Royal Canoe & Krief @ Waldorf -- 09/14/12

One of my favourite guitarists is The Dears' Patrick Krief, so of course I was a fan of his previous solo project, Black Diamond Bay. Well, Patrick is back with a new solo album, simply under the name Krief, and when I saw he was coming back to Vancouver I knew I needed to check it out. And then, when I found out Royal Canoe -- who played one of the best shows this past spring -- was on the bill too? Well, this was going to be one hell of a show.

Though there was a bit of confusion surrounding the show. There was a big mix-up with the set times of the show, so not even the bands knew what time they were going on until the last minute, and even earlier in the same day I had seen conflicting reports about whether it was Krief or Royal Canoe headlining the night.

One thing that was for sure, the opening band was Lost Lander, from Portland. It was the first show of a small tour of the Pacific Northwest with Royal Canoe, and they were an good choice for an opener. Strong, dark indie pop with some nice boy/girl harmonies between the guitarist & lead singer John Gnorski and Sarah Fennell on keyboard, they put on a very enjoyable set, with a good stage presence. Though there was a bit of chatting with the growing crowd a little between songs, there was also a few awkward pauses, and they wrapped up with the two best songs of the set, "Cold Feet" and "Belly of the Bird / Valentina" from their debut album DRRT.
They were nothing too mind-blowing, but put on an entertaining set, and I wouldn't mind checking them out more int he future.

Next up was Krief, whose set started a bit slow, as they had to chance the mic cable after the first song. But from the second song on, they filled the room with a blues inspired indie-rock sound, and deep & cinematic, beautifully textured songs. Krief didn't say much during the set, just letting the music speak for itself, and did it ever; the lush songs not only evoked emotion from the lyrics, but the musical arrangements as well. Highlights included "Simple Lives", with its soaring chorus, and the catchy "Perfect Bodies".
After the rocking "What We Wanted", an older Black Diamond Bay song, they closed out with the title track from the recent album, Hundred Thousand Pieces, starting soft then exploded with intensity, and featuring an extended, amazing, face-melting solo from Krief.
It was a pretty fantastic set, and hopefully it won't be another three years until I get the chance to see Patrick Krief playing his solo material live again.

That right there would have been a show worth seeing, but there was still Royal Canoe to wrap up the night. As with the other times I've seen them, they almost had more bodies and equipment than the stage could fit, the six members with an assortments of keyboards, synth, effects pedals, dual drums and more. There was one point where, to get to the other side of the stage, Matt Schellenberg had to hop off and walk around.
They started the set with "Hold On To The Metal", a great example of their complex, yet catchy wall-of-synth rock sound. Their live so is so tight and refined, with densely layered songs that still remain accessible. Highlights of the set were a couple new songs from their recent 7" Purple and Gold, a sexy slow jam called "Summer Sweat" & the crunchy "Show Me Your Eyes", and the bombastic "Bathtubs".
The set seemed way too short as they played right up to the curfew, not bothering with the encore fake-out, ending the set with the incredible "Nightcrawlin'", featuring Matt Peters again using the effects mic to run his voice through what I dubbed the "demonic processor", to give his vocals a deep and electronic quality.

I've said it several times before -- and I'm sure I will again -- but Royal Canoe is one of the best, and most unique, live bands in Canada right now, and I will be there without hesitation next time they're in town. And with Krief on the bill as well, for another excellent set, this was an amazing all-around show.