Starting the night was an all-too-short set from the violin looping Hannah Epperson. She came out on stage, alone and barefoot, to create beautiful sonic soundscapes using masterful loops of nothing but her violin, sometimes plucking, sometimes tapping on it to get percussive beats.
A couple of the songs were just instrumental, but she added fragile yet captivating vocals to a new song, "Shadowless" and "We Will Host A Party", which ended the set.
After a short turnaround, Jordan Klassen took the stage, alone at first launching in to a song that started soft and tender before the band slowly joined him one by one and the song swelled to a rich ending. It's a formula that a lot of his songs follow, the quiet start with the slow build and climactic finale, and he pulls it off well.
Klassen also has a great energy on stage, full of enthusiasm with his pure joy infecting the audience, and he clearly has fun on stage; as demonstrated when he introduced his bandmates with a rap.
A few old members joined him for "The Horses Are Stuck", which was a very fitting song for a venue like the Vogue. "Sweet Chariot" started with a very impressive vocal display from Jordan and Jocelyn Price, and they wrapped up the set with another high energy ending on "Where Is Your Sound".
The last time I saw The Belle Game, I mused that the Vogue would be a perfect venue for their rich, dark, orchestral pop, and that was certainly the case. The six-piece was at their best, despite a brief microphone issue during "Blame Fiction", as they filled the room with huge songs like "Bruise To Ash", a bit of a sexy slow-jam, and Andrea Lo's incredibly powerful voice captured the crowd, most evident on "River".
The band had a strong energy and stage presence, too, including Katrina sharing a story, confessing their disastrous first show with We Are The City years ago.
They wrapped up the set, as they usually do, with "Wait Up For You", getting people moving and building to an intense ending.
It seems like The Belle Game has been a go-to "opening band" for a lot of local heavyweights recently, and they are always in danger of stealing the show. Soon enough, they'll be the ones headlining the Vogue.
That alone would have been a satisfying show, but of course we still had We Are The City to come. The stage was adorned with a couple video screens, linked to cameras perched on Cayne's keyboards and Andrew's drums, which they moved around throughout the set.
When they took the stage, they launched right into "Bottom Of The Lake", the first song on the new album, exploding with a cacophony of drums. Their dense sound was intricate and layered, creating a much bigger sound than should come from just three musicians.
With a mix of old and new songs, the trio went back to their debut album for "Time, Wasted" and the gorgeous "Astronomers", and played most of their High School EP. "Happy New Year" started only for Cayne to pause the band and urge everyone to "lose it", and restarted with the floor section around the stage jumping wildly, and the entire Vogue singing along.
The trio was in awe of the support of the fans, expressing how they were incredibly grateful to be there a few times, and they were feeding off their crowd's energy with their own amazing and intense energy, backing their gratitude.
Among the new songs, highlights were the emotion-filled "King David", the calm and hypnotic "Friends Hurt" -- during which Andy dove into the crowd to surf a little -- and "Baptism", a beautiful song that bursts into a massive ending.
And the ending seemed like a definitive one -- the band even choosing "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House as the first song to play over the PA after they walked off stage -- but in what may have been a rare "actual encore", Cayne came back out alone to play one more song, "Mourning Song" after someone in the crowd shouted it out (unless he was calling for the similarly named "Morning Song")
We Are The City has been one of my favourite local bands since just about the first time I saw them live, when I knew they were going to be big, and it was incredible to see them perform in a venue like the Vogue. They've more than earned it.
Bottom Of The Lake; Legs Give Out; Get Happy; Time, Wasted; King David; That's It, That's All; Astronomers; An Angel in White; Happy New Year; Friends Hurt; Dark/Warm Air; Baptism.
(encore) Mourning Song.