When I saw Chersea for the first time earlier this year, I noted that she might just be someone to watch out for this year. Well, at least a few other people seem to agree with me, because since then she has made it all the way to the regional finals in the CBC Music Searchlight competition, being one of the top ten artists in the Vancouver region of voting (you can vote here, until Monday at noon PST, if you are so inclined). And that was even before the release of her debut EP, Grey Matter, which she celebrated with a release show at Fortune Sound Club this weekend.
Opening the night was Coquitlam band Community Trees, a four-piece with an alt-folk sound and coed vocals. The mix sounded a bit muddy and off for the first couple songs, but they soon settled into it. They had some interesting and catchy songs, but maybe a little scattered, like they just need to tighten things up a little bit. That aside, they were a fine band to open the night.
After a quick turnaround, Chersea hit the stage behind a complex setup of instruments. Looping everything from keyboard to synth to drum pads to trumpets to bass guitar, as well as a vocal harmonizer, everything on stage came live from one person (with the exception of a couple more complex loops, which she admitted were built between sets, for the sake of brevity due to the curfewed show).
Chersea started with the title track "Grey Matter", the moody backlighting matching the tone of the song, and from there the set ranged from dark ambient-pop to the summery and upbeat "Chemical Polarity", to the straight up danceable and electro-tinged "Requiem" (which was one of three songs to feature backup dancers up on stage). She even kept the dance-party portion of the set going with a cover of Love Inc's "Broken Bones".
She harmonized with herself, showing off her strong voice, for the "last" song of the set, the single from the EP, "I Could Lose It All", but had time for one last song before the curfew. Not bothering to leave the stage, she encored with a new song called "Mr. Cullum", a poppy jazz tune named after and inspired by Jamie Cullum.
For years now, I've loved watching loopers play live; watching them single-handedly build layer upon layer to create rich soundscapes in real time, and Chersea does a fantastic job at that. I wouldn't be surprised if this is just the beginning for her.