Yukon Blonde @ Biltmore -- 01/15/15

A little over seven years ago, in December of Ought-Seven, The Stills were in Vancouver recording their album that would become Oceans Will Rise. While they were here, they played a one-off show at some brand new venue I hadn't heard of at the time. It was in a weird location and was impossible to find, but I remember liking it right away.

That wasn't quite the first show The Biltmore ever hosted (it was close) but it was the first time I was there, and certainly not the last. Over the last seven years, I've probably been to the Biltmore over a hundred times. Heck, when I was moving to East Van, one of the things I had in mind was "can I walk to the Biltmore?"

This is all a preamble to say that over the last month or so, The Biltmore has been celebrating their seventh birthday, which has culminated by a show from none other than Yukon Blonde. Who I was very excited to see, because other than a couple songs at Keloha last summer, it had been two and a half years since I saw the band play live.

Unfortunately I was running late and get there for the last half of the last song from Fountain, which is a shame because I only found out after that the lineup includes former members from the old Kelowna band Kingdom Cloud.

It wasn't long before Yukon Blonde hit the stage, the band returning for their first show in Vancouver from their year long break with a whole new lineup; frontman Jeff Innes and guitarist Brandon Scott were joined by some new (but familiar) faces; the drummer from Fountain, Rebecca Gray on keys, and James Younger on bass & helping out with harmonies & vocals.

They immediately got the crowd into it starting off with their hit single "My Girl" and one of my favourites from their last album Tiger Talk, "Radio", before launching into a whole host of brand new songs, giving the packed crowd a sneak peek at the album they finished recording. A few of the new songs were a bit more synth-tinged than the usual Yukon Blonde fare -- perhaps a result of Innes' solo project High Ends while they were on break -- but the two that stood out to me were an 80s-sounding rocker that I think was called "Saturday Night", and an incredibly sexy jam called (I think) "I Wanna Be Your Man" that is guaranteed to be on every makeout mixtape once the new album is released.

They finished off the main set with a few more Tiger Talk songs, "Breathing Tigers" building to a ferocious climax, and wrapping up the main set with "Stairway". The encore went back even further, for a few more fan favourites. Everyone was singing and clapping along to "Babies Don't Like Blue Anymore" from their self-titled album, and they went all the way back to their debut EP Everything in Everyway for "Nico Canmore", starting with a cool, space-y instrumental jam and slowly building to an intense and breathless ending, the perfect song to cap off the night.

The night was a great return for the band, the new lineup is pretty solid, and their harmonies as spot-on as ever. You could just tell that they were thrilled to be back on stage in Vancouver, as well.
And based on the few new songs, I am really looking forward to the new album; it sounds like a great progression of their sound.