Zeus @ Biltmore -- 10/21/11

Every once in a while, a show that I should be excited for just kind of sneaks up on me without fanfare. For some reason, this was one of those shows. Sure, I was looking forward to it; I had seen Zeus four times before and this, and it would be the first time seeing them headline a show (not counting the Bonfire Ball), but I was probably not as excited going in as I should have been.

Starting off the night was Daydream Vacation from Seattle; a collaboration between Smoosh and Head Like A Kite who were kind of a strange choice to open the show, with a strong electro-pop dancey sound. It wasn't bad by any means -- Asya from Smooth had a really nice voice and Dave was very animated, singing into a phone receiver and a few times jumping off stage and through the [light] crowd -- but it was just a bizarre fit. A lot of their songs had the same vibe, even the Neil Young cover they threw in, but it was still an upbeat and catchy set.

Vancouver's own Sun Wizard was up next, with their straight-ahead, throwback rock being more suitably paired with Zeus. I've seen them a couple times now, and they are an enjoyable band to watch at the time, but nothing overly engaging. They don't have too much of a stage presence and have a few really catchy songs, notably "World's Got a Handle", but a lot of them were also a little interchangeable. But again, it was a Perfectly Acceptable set and I wouldn't complain seeing them again.

Then it was time for Zeus. They mentioned early since there was a curfew, they'd keep the chit chat minimal and just play, blasting us with a straight hour of rock. The bulk of the set was off of last year's Say Us, but there were a few new ones, teasing the release of their album next March. Of the new ones, the do wop "Love In a Game" was probably my favourite.
Throughout the set there was lots of switching around with Carlin, Mike, and Neil swapping between guitars, bass, and keys, and all pitching in for vocals -- either main or chiming in for superb harmonies. And even though there wasn't much chatter, they still kept a captive crowd, getting the folks to sing along just by Carlin cupping his ear.
Other highlights were the intense ending of "The Renegade" with the band going absolutely nuts rocking out, and the stellar "The River by the Garden", during which Mike broke a string on his guitar -- and between songs, instead of standing around while he fixed, Carlin played a badass bass solo that launching into their great cover of Genesis' "That's All". They ended the main set with the new single, "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" before coming back for a quick two song encore, capping off the night with the driving"You Gotta' Teller"

It was an amazing set, and I immediately realised why I should have been more excited -- and chastised myself for not. It is going to be tough to wait until next March for the new album, and hopefully they're back not long after that for another show.

[New Song], [New Song], Kindergarten, Greater Times on the Wayside, The River by the Garden, That's All [Genesis cover], How Does It Feel?, Heavy On Me, Marching Through Your Head, BBO(?), Love is a Game, The Renegade, Are You Gonna Waste My Time?
(encore) Hot Under The Collar, You Gotta' Teller.