Bend Sinister & Gay Nineties @ Imperial -- 12/27/14

Just when you were getting sick of holiday parties, along comes "Relax, It's Not Another Christmas Party, Party!" A trio of Vancouver favourites teamed up for a show to benefit the Blanket BC Society for one last show of the year (in my calendar, anyway).

And it was a show that I was especially excited for, as not only are Bend Sinister one of the first "Vancouver Indie" bands I really got into years ago, but Gay Nineties are also one of my favourite [relatively] newer local bands.

Unfortunately I missed the first band of the night, The Tourist Company, who recently placed third in the Peak Performance Project (in fact, all three band this night had gone through the competition), getting there shortly before Gay Nineties hit the stage.

They were teasing their new EP, Liberal Guilt, which is out in a couple of weeks (but was on the merch table for people to pick up early) and started off with the appropriately named first track, "Intro", a slow burning build that burst into "Hold Your Fire".
The set ranged from sultry slow jams to high energy rockers; from the "shoop shoops" of "Good Times" to the driving pulse of "Turn Me On", they blended sounds from the last six or seven decades, but never in a way that felt derivative. Their sound is both familiar and fresh, taking those older influences and creating something new and interesting. The entire band also has a great stage presence, but especially frontman Parker Bossley, who has an effortless charm, looking like he would be ready to rock venues of every size.
Aside from their own songs, they slipped in their usual cover of Tom Petty's "American Girl" and the set drew to a close in the most explosive way, a psychedelic segue into their smash hit "Letterman".

Bend Sinister was out not long after, starting off with the aptly named "Thunder and Lightning" before launching into the incendiary "Hot Blooded Man" for a set that spanned just about their entire career. From their self titled 2007 EP to this year's new album and everything in between, songs ranged from the comparatively soft and slow "Through The Week" to the uplifting anthem "Things Will Get Better" to the absolutely balls-out rockers "Teacher".
Dan Moxon's voice went from raw intensity to soaring bursts as he pounded away on the keyboard with a huge energy, and the rest of the band were no slouches either. Especially Matt Rhode, who is one of the most fun bass players to watch live, the complete opposite of the cliché "bored bass face".

Part way through the set they brought out special guest Kristy-Lee Audette on trumpet to help with a few songs from the new album Animals, including the jaunty and ridiculously catchy "Fancy Pants", and my favourite from the new album, "I Got Love" a furious and almost gospel-esque song featuring a phenomenal breakdown. Other highlights included the haunting "Black Magic Woman", and an old favourite "Time Breaks Down".

The main set came to a close with the first track off Animals, the eight minute long "Best Of You" which twists and turns that pretty much encapsulates every aspect of their sound. And of course they were back out for an encore, the low-tempo "Don't Let Us Bring You Down" and then finally ending the night by inviting everyone from Gay Nineties and Kristy back on stage for a fun cover of Dan's favourite piano man, Elton John's Bennie and the Jets.

I always love when bands do that, end the night by inviting everyone back on stage for a cover that everyone can play or sing along to. It just makes the show seem more fun.

My only minor quibble with the set was that there were a couple times where the backing vocals felt a bit too loud, the harmonies overpowering  Dan's main vocals, but that wasn't nearly enough to ruin a fantastic set. Bend Sinister puts on such an amazing and high energy show, and I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing them leave it all on stage.
Combined with a great set from Gay Nineties, who I like more and more every time I see them, and it was a pretty strong musical ending to the year.

Thunder and Lightning, Hot Blooded Man, Don't You Know, Man of Faith and Virtue, We Know Better, Fancy Pants, I Got Love, Better Things To Do, Teacher, Black Magic Woman, Through The Week, It Will Never End, Things Will Get Better, Time Breaks Down, Best of You. 
(encore) Don't Let Us Bring You Down, Bennie & The Jets [Elton John cover].