It's been way too long since the last time We Are The City headlined a show in the city they now call home, Vancouver. Over the last couple years the band has travelled the world, won film making awards, and lied to everyone while breaking the record to make the world's longest movie. The result of the latter was their third full length album, Above Club, which they had on display at the Imperial in Vancouver.
Unfortunately I missed the first band of the night, locals Smash Boom Pow, getting there just before Toronto's HIGHS took the stage. I had been wanting to see them play live since falling in love with their self titled EP nearly two years ago, so I was glad they were opening.
The five members of the band took the stage to tease an upcoming album with their fun and upbeat art-rock. Vocals were mostly taken care of by guitarist Doug Haynes, but keyboardist Karrie Douglas and Joel Harrower, also on guitar, not only harmonized, but also took over for a couple songs, their voices swirling together magnificently.
They are one of those bands where you could tell each member was having fun on stage, and were even playing with such enthusiasm that Haynes' guitar strap broke during "I Do, Do You?". He (nearly) didn’t miss a beat, and they had to do a quick fix with gaffers tape to reattach the strap to the guitar before the last song.
My only disappointment of the set was that they didn’t play "Summer Dress", the song that originally got me into the band. But I don’t think they actually played anything off that self-titled EP, just teasing new songs from their upcoming full length. Which, don't get me wrong, did sound great and had me eager to hear it.
After some interstitial music featuring some local favourites, the lights dimmed, a neon "24/7" sign illuminated above the stage, and the three members of We Are The City took their places. There were no stage lights, just the couple dozen lining the back of the stage, giving everything a very moody atmosphere. Cayne McKenzie (vox & keyboard), David Menzel (guitar) and Andrew Huculiak (Drums) were lit up enough to see the band most of the time, but the colours changed -- either solid or swirling colours -- with the mood of the song.
Silhouetted in red light, they launched into "Heavy As A Brick" from the new album, the throbbing beat and haunting vocals setting the stage for the night.
They focused mainly on the last couple albums, without saying too much between songs; they thanked the packed room for coming, confessed it had been too long (correct), and Cayne even admitted "there isn't much to say... but lots of songs to play". Highlights included the cheeky "Keep On Dancing", the erupting emotion of "King David", and the absolute beautiful "Baptism". And the crowd was amped up, singing along to songs like "Friend’s Hurt" and even one guy crowdsurfing to "Everything Changes" (which puzzled Cayne as he joked -- “really? for this song??”)
Several times throughout the set, the thumping of the bass drove through your chest, and ran along the floor to buzz up your feet, none moreso than during "Dark/Warm Air" which saw Andy take over lead vocals, before getting back behind the drums and just murdering them. He is one of my favourite drummers to watch live, with a controlled chaos.
The set built before finally ending with the album closer, "Kiss Me, Honey", Cayne repeating "All pop hooks like jokes in the funny paper" in the chorus. And they did what I wished more bands would do, didn't bother with the phony-encore, just playing right up until the end.
From the very first time I saw them play, I knew We Are The City was going to be a band like no other. And in the years since, they have more than lived up to that. They put on a phenomenal live show, and I can't wait to see what they do next. (I just hope it's not another two and a half years until I see them perform live again).
Heavy As A Brick;
Keep On Dancing;
Legs Give Out;
That’s It, That’s All;
Love is In All Things;
Kiss Me, Honey.