If you've been wondering why you haven't heard from Vancouver's JPNSGRLS in a while, well, I have some news for you. The band has undergone a bit of a transformation, with most of the old members gone and frontman Charlie Kerr now joined by Colton Lauro on lead guitar and Mike Noble on bass. And not only that, but they're now going under the moniker Hotel Mira. And last night they finally made their grand (re)debut at the Biltmore Cabaret.
First up, though, was Whisper Disco, a three piece from Vancouver with a garage rock vibe. Their set was full of energetic and raucous songs, and while I didn't catch the name of any -- they didn't say much between the songs -- the two that stood out for me were a bit of a darker one, singer Viviane Chiamulera's voice matching with a haunting tone, and the final song of the their set, which wrapped it app up in an explosive finale (even with a bit of equipment problems on the drums mid-song). They're definitely someone I'm going to want to keep an eye/ear on.
Victoria's Band of Rascals were out next, with a much more straight ahead rock n roll sound. They started strong, with a broken string on the very first song, and kept up the pace throughout their set, wearing their influences on their sleeve. Even though nothing really stood out for me, they put on a solid set that had the crowd into it and kept everyone pumped.
And finally, after a video hype package, the screen lifted to bright white incandescent lights illuminating the stage for Hotel Mira.
The lights started out stark white before shifting to coloured midway through, as the set ramped up. They mostly teased new songs like "3am Lullaby" pouring forth raw emotion and "Jungle" showing off the bands' harmonies. And while each member on stage had a strong presence, Charlie Kerr was on another level, hardly standing still throughout the set. He stalked back and forth, danced up front, and even literally got in the faces of those in the front row, it was almost exhausting just to watch.
While the set was mostly new songs, the name & lineup change didn't preclude a few older ones slipped in, as they got the crowd moving with a few familiar numbers like the frenetic "Smalls", the intense "Bully For You", and especially "Southern Comforting" which had the crowd singing along.
The set drew to an end with a more maudlin "Stockholm" before they were quickly back for one more song, "Oh My God", Kerr asking everyone to lose their shit, which the crowd happily obliged.
Despite the changes, Hotel Mira still feels like an extension of JPNSGRLS, rather than an entirely new thing (which is probably why they billed it as a renaming, not an entirely new band). With Charlie's distinct vocals and a similar, more polished sound, I'm looking forward to hearing more from them.
Beautiful Thing, I am Terrified
Tell Me I'm Alright
For Your Benefit
Bully For You
Oh My God.