Part one of the project was a "rock & roll boot camp" where the musicians went on a week long retreat to get lectures and advice from industry pros, to help them refine their craft. Phase two is a series of shows at Fortune Sound Club; four artists a night for five weeks, each playing a 45 minute set. The bands are rated by a panel of judges, which will go toward their final score in the project. They've also been tasked to learn a "Classic Canadian Cover" to play during their set. I always love hearing bands play cover songs, and it's always interesting to see who each act chooses, if it's someone obvious to their style, or something way outside the box.
Starting off the penultimate showcase was Victoria's Dougal Bain McLean. Occasionally a solo performer, Dougal came out with a full band to fill out his pop-rock sound. His songs were catchy, but what drew me in most was his voice; that kind of gruff-yet-smooth voice that sounds like he drank a bottle of whiskey before the show.
After a few tunes, including the jaunty "Camino", he traded his guitar for a violin for a couple songs. The first of which was actually my favourite song of the set; it had a greater intensity than the rest of the set, and made me wish he was on the violin more often. It definitely set him apart from some of the other singer/songwriters in the competition.
Staying on violin, Dougal went for more of a "modern classic" with his cover, a nice version of Patrick Watson's "Adventures in Your Own Back Yard", and he ended the set with the most high energy song of the night.
Coldwater Road took the stage next. The five-piece from Vancouver have kind of a pop-folk group, with split male/female vocals. They also had a cello to round out their sound, and a drummer that would occasionally swap out for guitar.
The band gave off kind of a fun, goofy vibe for a lot of their set, without being too silly or cheesy. Songs like "Seven Letters" were playful and perhaps a little tongue in cheek, though but they had a couple other, slower or more serious songs.
I thought for sure their cover was going to be something by Barenaked Ladies, but I was wrong and they went with a version of "5 Days In May" by Blue Rodeo.
They were a perfectly fun band to see live, but I don't know if I'd be going out of my way to hear more.
Next up was Bodhi Jones, for an unprecedented third time going through the project. He took part in the first and second years, and -- after a brief retirement from making music -- is now back this year. I said before I had a few biases going in to the shows this year, and Jones was one of them. I have never been much of a fan, but I tried to go into his set with an open mind.
He is by no means a bad musician, and he surrounded himself with great local musicians for his backing band, but his songs fall a little flat. None of them really seemed to "pop" to me, and some of the lyrics were a bit cliché. But he's definitely comfortable on stage and has a good presence, and seems to have a loyal fan-base.
Bodhi also chose to go more modern with his cover, "Weighty Ghost" originally by Wintersleep. He had people singing and clapping along at the end, which lead into his last song of the night, giving his set a big, grandiose finish.
Oh, and a couple songs in he had someone, whose name I didn't catch, come out and do a short rap/slam poetry. Which seemed a little out of place.
And finally, Lions In The Street wrapped up the night. They took the stage backlit, and stayed in silhouette for most of their set, with everything cranked up for the loudest of the showcases thus far. The four-piece had loads of energy with a swampy rock sound, though there wasn't much variation to their songs. I wasn't surprised to find they were a previously in Fox Seeds, as well, since they sounded like they would have fit in perfectly to that annual competition.
They kept up the same intensity and loudness throughout their entire set, including their cover as they added to the Neil Young count, going with a deep cut "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere"
The band is ten year vets of the business, and that certainly showed on stage, but for whatever reason their set just didn't click with me.
And that almost does it for this year's Peak Performance Project showcases. Next week will be the final one featuring Hannah Epperson, Amble Greene, BESTiE, and Oh No! Yoko.