Paper Lions @ Biltmore -- 11/26/16

With a brand new album just out, PEI's Paper Lions are crisscrossing the country to celebrate. And as they hit the opposite side of the country, they returned to Vancouver for a show at the Biltmore. 

With them was Toronto band HIGHS, taking the stage in front of a floral curtain draped across the back of the stage. The five-piece focused on their latest album, Dazzle Camouflage, playing their upbeat art-rock songs. Guitarists Doug Haynes & Joel Harrower, and keyboardist Karrie Douglas all took care of vocals, sometimes taking over lead vocals, but frequently harmonizing, their voiced swirling together nicely.
Highlights of the set included the soaring "I Do, Do You?", "Gabriel (Blind Boy)" with a darker intensity, and "Gold Teeth", which brought the set to an explosive ending.  
I've seen them a few times already this year, and they keep putting on fun and energetic sets. Not only that, but they were a great pairing to go with Paper Lions. 

And speaking of, it wasn't long after that Paper Lions showed off a few new elements to their live show, first taking the stage while the projection screen in the back played a test pattern, with their faces intermittently popping in among the colour bars. They also had a few blasts on confetti shot from the sound booth in the back throughout the set. However, thanks to the Biltmore's low ceiling, I don't think they quite had the intended effect, as half the crowd didn't seem to notice. 
But theatrics aside, the now-five-piece band is as tight as ever. Starting off with the ridiculously catchy "Don't Wanna Dance" -- which had the exact opposite effect on the crowd -- showcasing the new album Full Colour with the familiar Paper Lions Folk Pop melded with a touch of 80s influence. 
Aside from other insanely danceable tunes like "Take A Look At My Girl" or slower, more thoughtful songs like "End of July" off the new album, they also dipped back throughout their catalogue with songs like the raucous "Don't Touch That Dial" and "Sandcastles", one of my favourites off the previous album My Friends
Part way through the set the band went for a fully acoustic song, not only unplugging, but getting right into the middle of the crowd for "Polly Hill". I thought it would end in disaster, as the noisy crowd at first didn't seem like they were going to shut up. But by the end of the first verse it was silent (or as quiet as the Biltmore gets on a Saturday night) and at the end a good portion of the crowd was singing along for a magical moment. 
As they rocketed towards the curfew they ended off with a nice singalong to "Travelling" and the first single off the new album, "Believer", only to be back out for one more old favourite, whipping the crowd back up for "Lost The War". 

I always love watching great bands grow into the recognition they deserve, and with the memory of watching Paper Lions in a half-full Media Club, it made me very happy to see them playing to a packed Biltmore on a Saturday night. And I have no doubt that they'll be filling larger and larger venues soon enough. 

HIGHS setlist
Acting Strange
So Sad, Never Mad
Gabriel (Blind Boy)
Handsome Man
I Do, Do You?
Gold Teeth

Paper Lions setlsit
Don't Wanna Dance
Pull Me In
Call Back
Take a Look at My Girl
Best Out Of You
Don't Touch That Dial
Polly Hill
My Friend
End of July
Lost The War