Bend Sinister @ Venue -- 07/19/12

It's been four years since the last full length album from Bend Sinister -- 2008's Stories of Brothers, Tales of Lovers -- and while there has been a couple of EPs to tide us over since then, the wait for their third full length is finally over with the release of Small Fame last week on File Under: Music. And to celebrate, they threw a hometown album release party at Venue.

The first band of the night was Young Pacific, who I unfortunately missed, getting there just as the second band, Fields of Green took the stage.
When I saw them in the Peak Performance Project last year, I thought they had loads of potential, but they were still young and needed some time to grow as a band, to become more cohesive, and in the past year they've made huge strides; not only earning a spot in the PPP again, but they also scoring top three of this year's Fox Seeds competition.
Their sinthy, prog-rock-ish sound comes with great energy from the whole band, especially drummer Johnny who is insanely animated, and their live show has definitely gotten tighter. My favourite of the set was a song which I missed the name, but included a fantastic instrumental section that started slow and soft and then grew to a huge climax of swirling guitars and intense drumming. I am definitely looking forward to see how they fare in this year’s Peak Performance Project.

And then it was time for Bend Sinister who hit the stage and immediately launched in to “She Don’t Give It Up”, as they played the whole new album front to back. The piano driven prog rock evoked sounds from some of the classics from the 70s, but never in a derivative way; they aren’t stuck in the past, but have made the sound their very own.
The band also has an unparalleled energy; Dan Moxon is a monster on the keys, and both guitarist Joseph Blood and bass player Matt Rhode were rocking out in power stances, and coming right up to the front of the stage to get people clapping along.
Highlights included the catchy “Got You On My Mind”, the intense “My Lady” with a great instrumental breakdown, and especially the back to back combo of “Hot Blooded Man” and “Black Magic Woman”; the former being an explosive and insanely high energy rocker, and the latter a slower and more sultry jam.
After wrapping up with the psychedelic “Quest for Love” they were back for an encore of a few older songs, including the anthemic and uplifting “Things Will Get Better”, a fantastic cover of Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” and ending the night with an old favourite, “Time Breaks Down”.

Bend Sinister was one of the first Vancouver bands I really got into when I first started exploring the local music scene, and they remain one of my favourite. Especially with shows, and albums, like this. There are few bands -- local or otherwise -- that can match the energy and intensity from the band, and their live show is hard to top.

She Don't Give It Up, 
Don't You Know, 
Man of Faith and Virtue, 
One Shot, 
Got You on My Mind, 
My Lady, 
We Know Better, 
Give It a Rest, 
Hot Blooded Man, 
Black Magic Woman, 
She Lost Her Rock and Roll, 
Quest for Love.
(encore) The News, Things Will Get Better, The Logical Song [Supertramp cover], Time Breaks Down.