Elliott BROOD @ Railway Club -- 02/23/16

It seems that Elliott BROOD is establishing a pattern of playing bigger venues, followed by some of the ones they hit while up and coming; one time they'll play the Commodore, then the Media Club, back to the Commodore, and now the historic Railway Club.
I believe they mentioned the venue was the first one they had sold out in Vancouver, and of course this night was the same, as it was shoulder-to-shoulder packed with 150 of the most rabid Elliott BROOD fans in the city (some even making it a second night in a row, after their show in Whistler the night before). 

Opening the show was a quick set by standup comedian Dustin Hollings, whose material I definitely should not be repeating here. He's also an old friend of Mark so was glad to be opening the show for the Brood. 

Very shortly after Hollings, the trio of Mark Sasso, Casey Laforet, and Steve Pitkin took the stage, launching into fan favourite "The Valley Town", which got everyone stomping and clapping right off the bat. It was just a warm up for much claps and stomps throughout the night. 
The self-styled 'death-country' band hit songs from their entire oeuvre, from some of the first tunes they ever wrote, like "Bowling Green", to an incendiary brand new song, "The Coast". 
They also pulled some deep cuts; they admitted they probably wouldn't have played "Rusty Nail" in the bigger venues, but were glad to play at shows like this. Casey joked about the "house party" vibe, and that it was like a songwriter workshop with how much backstory they were giving each song. In fact, they were really loose on stage, joking and bantering with the crowd between songs.
They spanned from the "disco dance number about World Was I" (as Mark jokingly introduced it) "Their Will"; to slower, more sombre tunes like "If I Get Old"; to the absolutely facemelting "Chuckwagon", an instrumental off of Mountain Meadows that is one of my favourites, especially to see played live. The packed room sang along to favourites "Oh, Alberta" & "Northern Air", and they even slipped in a cover of CCR's "Bad Moon Rising". 
As the set wound down, over an hour after they started, they finished off with another one of my favourites, "Miss You Now", a melancholy slow burner, before standing awkwardly on stage for a minute, confessing they had nowhere to go, and then playing the final song of the night. 
It was, of course, their big finale "Write It All Down For You", which had the crowd yelling "HEY HEY HEY!" at the top of their lungs and stomping so hard that I'm surprised we didn't collapse through to the store below. 

Elliott BROOD is such a solid and amazing live band, whether it's in front of a thousand people, or a hundred fifty. And I really like the idea of alternating between the bigger venues and the tiny clubs. I hope they keep doing it, and while I am eagerly anticipating the next blowout at the Commodore, I can't wait to see which small club they choose after that. 

The Valley Town; 
Nothing Left; 
Jigsaw Heart; 
Northern Air;  
Oh, Alberta; 
Bowling Green; 
Owens Sound; 
Rusty Nail; 
Little One; 
Their Will; 
Bad Moon Rising [Creedence Clearwater Revival cover]; 
The Coast;
If I Get Old; 
The Banjo Song; 
Fingers and Tongues; 
Miss You Now.
Write It All Down. 

#SingItFwdFinale @ Vogue Theatre -- 01/14/16 & 01/15/16

This is it. The end of an era. Since 2011, David and Ambrosia Vertesi have been organizing the annual #SingItFwd event, with proceeds going to the St. James Music Academy, a music school for underprivileged children in the Downtown East Side. 
But this year, the shows came to an end with a giant, star-studded two night finale at the Vogue Theatre. They brought back old favourites, and new voices, for two completely different lineups to say goodbye. 

Each artist got a short, 3-song set (usually) and while in past shows they had been more acoustical, this year saw a mix of stripped-down and full-band sets.  Hosted by Tamara Stanners (of The Peak) and Cory Ashworth (formerly of The Peak), the night also included interstitial videos of various bands with the SJMA kids. 

Both nights are covered in this post, so click through to see everyone that played, the surprise (and not-so-surprise) guests, and who covered which David Bowie songs! 

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Miss Quincy & The Showdown with Cobra Romone and Savvie @ The Cobalt -- 01/07/16


I couldn't think of a better way to start of 2016, concert-wise, than an "East Van badass babe revue". Miss Quincy returned to Vancouver for the first of The Cobalt's Thursday night "Fuck Fridays" in the new year, and bought along some pretty killer rock 'n' roll. 

First up was a bit of self-described "sex rock" from Savvie. Savannah Wellman was joined by a talented bunch of locals as her backing band -- though noted it was the first time that particular combination played together -- to highlight songs from last year's Night Eyes album.
Starting off with "It's Okay", songs ranging from the coy lyrics "Break You In", the grittier "Gravity", and "The Tower" about looking forward, not back. My favourite of the set, "Dreams of Surrender", was an intense heartbreaker with Savannah's voice soaring over the chorus and a wicked guitar solo from Connor John Tkach.
And though the sound seemed a little bit off for the set, it was still enjoyable and a great prelude for what was to come. 

Next up was the bluesy rockin' Cobra Ramone, consisting of Cobra on guitar & vocals, Trevor Snakedust on organs & guitar, and one of my favourite drummers, Pat Steward (who I think needs a serpentine pseudonym when drumming with the band; Python Steward, or something). 
At any rate, they kicked off with some high energy rock and barely slowed down until the end.  A song Cobra introduced as "about breakup sex", the ferocious "Bang Bang" and the slow-burning "I'm A Mess" stood out to me, as the set built towards a frenzied ending. I had only seen Cobra Ramone once before, a couple years ago, but really dug the set and I am looking forward to hearing more in the future. 

And finally, as the lead singer urged everyone to cozy up to someone because it was "just dark enough, and just late enough..." Miss Quincy & The Showdown hit the stage with the appropriately seductive bass groove of "Making Money" to start off the set, which included a bit of the blues standard "Good Morning, School Girl". 
Highlights of the set included the dark and moody "Damn You" which just launched a new video, Miss Quincy telling the "Fuck Friday" crowd to repent in advance with the hymnal "Take It To The Well", and aside from songs from their most recent album Roadside Recovery, the trio slipped in some new ones, including a sexy slow jam which I think was called "You Remind Me Of Myself". 
Near the end of the set they brought a guest on stage, Shawn "The Harpoonist" Hall, to play a little harmonica on the raucous "Wild Fucking West" before the set concluded with a pair of explosive songs. I think they may have blown out a speaker during the badass and sultry "Bad Love", which would have been a great ending, but they somehow managed to top the energy for an all-out rocking cover of "Boys Wanna Be Her" by Peaches.

Rich Aucoin w/ The Elwins @ Fox Cabaret -- 11/03/15

It was four years ago, almost to the day, that I first saw Rich Aucoin perform live. He was opening for Arkells at the Commodore (on 11/11/11, appropriately enough) and I knew right then, I never wanted to not see him play. Since then I have made sure to see catch his shows every time he's back, and have never been disappointed. So of course I wasn't going to miss when his latest tour, dubbed the Karaoke Carnival Tour, hit the Fox Cabaret this weekend.

Starting off the night, though, was The Elwins from Keswick, Ontario. The alt-pop foursome came out fast with "Off The Wall" from their new album Play For Keeps, and barely slowed down. Focusing mostly on the new album, they played high energy, upbeat songs like "It Ain't Over Til It's Over", which had lead singer Matthew Sweeney hop into the crowd and get people singing along, and "Bringing Out The Shoulders" where bassist Frankie Figliomeni took over lead vocals. Other highlights included the bouncy "Away Too Long" and the quirky "Is There Something", as well as mustachioed keys/guitar player Feurd Moore at the front of the stage, tambourine in hand, getting the crowd clapping along to "Forgetful Assistance", before spotting a familiar face in the crowd and pulling Spencer Schoening of Said the Whale on stage. They drew things to a close with their single "So Down Low", for a really fun and tight set. I have seen them play a few times now, and I enjoy them more and more each time. 

After a quick turnaround and setup, Rich Aucoin took the stage for what can only be described as a multimedia experience. Before anything else, he usually starts the crowd with a crowd vocal warmup, this time it was singing Happy Birthday to someone in the crowd. That was followed by the usual 20th Century Fox fanfare and THX introduction, before a motivational speech, and finally the "opening credits" featuring people from the crowd given amusing attributes (like this nice shoutout).
Most of that was scored by an instrumental of "Meaning in Life" the first song off the latest album Ephemeral, before launching right into the singalong with "Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E.", words flashing on the projection screen behind him, with videos or movie clips synched up to the songs. 

With the insane drumming of Tony Dallas as the backbone, Rich played samples and loops and keys from his station, though more often than not he was along the front of the stage, or even in the crowd. During "Four More Years" Rich create a large hole in the middle of the dance floor, as he ran around the rim singing to people before everyone came in to dance.
Not only can few people control a crowd like Aucoin, but there's always something special about those crowds at his shows. All pretentiousness is thrown out the window as people are more than happy to dance, jump, sing, yell, throw their arms around total strangers, and do all of the above under a giant parachute. 
Which, of course made its appearance during "Are You Experiencing?", the rainbow parachute extending from the stage to the bar, encompassing the entire dance floor, Aucoin leading the crowd underneath, everyone singing along with what almost feels like a mantra for Rich Aucoin, and his live shows: "When you give it all up, you get it back"

And as fun as the live show experience is, it would be nothing without his anthemic, electro-pop songs. You don't just sing along with songs like "Want To Believe" or "Let It Go" (not that "Let It Go") because the words are there, you do it because they are catchy songs with poignant lyrics that remind us we are, as the album says, ephemeral.  Which was proven with the set-closing "It" as the crowd chanted "We won't leave it all in our heads" well after the song was done. 

The set ended spot on the curfew, with Rich putting his actual phone number up on the screen, with a promise of free music if you text him, and that's usually where the show would end... but after some crowd clamouring, Aucoin came back out, admitting he isn't much of an encore guy. Instead, he lived up to the "karaoke" part of the tour by piping in the karaoke version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and leading the whole room to a giant singalong, a pretty great way to end the show. 

I've said it before, but you don't just watch Rich Aucoin play live. You experience it. There are a few bands that I have seen that give you that warm feeling and giant grin plastered over your face after the show -- or even days later just thinking about it -- and Rich Aucoin is up there as one of the best at it.

Meaning in Life, Brian Wilson is A.L.I.V.E., P:U:S:H, Four More Years, Undead, Let It Go, Want to Believe, Are You Experiencing?, It.
(encore) Bohemian Rhapsody Karaoke.