It's been a few months since the release of Centerfold, the latest album from Toronto's Darcys, and while the duo has been to Vancouver since, it was always opening for someone else. Now they're back for their first headlining show since the new album, and the changes in both their band (dropping down to just two members, Jason Couse & Wes Marskell) and sound.
Opening the show was Vancouver's Sex With Strangers, their indie-dance-rock a nice compliment to Darcys. As usual, singer Hatch Benedict was bursting with energy and he barely stood still for a second, his raw vocals contrasting with those of Shevaughn Ruley. Near the end of the set, as they went into "Gift of Fear", Hatch jumped off the stage and onto the dance floor to, well, dance. He went around the growing crowd, singing to/at people, urging them closer, and encouraging them to move, while ending off the set with a cover of "Don't Change" by INXS.
As it was a curfewed show, it was a fairly quick turnaround for Darcys, as the duo took to a somewhat tropical looking stage; plants lining the sides, a light up palm tree, a projection screen behind them showing a tree-lined road, and a large neon sign with their name emblazoned.
They mostly played off the new album Centerfold, with songs like the catchy "Arizona Highway", "Miracle", which got everyone moving, and one of my favourites, the frantic "Coming Up For Air". But they also threw back to a couple older ones, both "The River" and "Shaking Down the Old Bones" bringing the old songs into their "new" sound nicely.
During the set, Jason and Wes joked a lot, both with the crowd and with each other, clearly having fun. They shared stories from the road, bantered about early shows (it was almost definitely still light outside when they started their set), and seemed like they were trying to entertain each other as much as the crowd.
As the curfew drew closer, they wrapping the set up with the simmering slow burn of "Lip Service", erupting into an intense ending before thanking everyone and taking off. But they made the crowd work for the encore -- blaming it on the distance from the stage to the bathrooms -- before coming back to play a couple more.
I've said before, I'm not really a fan of the whole encore process, unless the band uses it to have some fun, not just play more of their songs -- or worse yet, their big hit. And that's exactly what Wes & Jason did. After joking with the audience about not knowing anymore songs (and barely knowing the ones they were about to play) they launched into a pair of amazing covers. First was their recent release, a version of "Kiss" by Prince, followed by Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is". Both were super fun and had the crowd singing along, and a perfect way to end off the show.
It can be hard when a band you really like goes through changes. As much as I love the dark art-rock sounds of their previous album Warring, the new album is ridiculously fun and catchy, and even with a bit more of an 80s pop sheen to it, the new songs still sounded like The Darcys, still have that slightly dark edge creeping in underneath the shine. And even with all that aside, they're still a great live band.
I Want It All
Shaking Down the Old Bones
Coming Up For Air
San Diego, 1988
Kiss [Prince cover]
I Want to Know What Love Is [Foreigner cover]
You know how you have those few bands that just seem to be "cursed"? By which I mean, you just always seem to miss out when it comes to seeing them live. I am a fan of Spencer Krug in all incarnations, but have always had bad luck seeing his live shows. I saw Sunset Rubdown back in '09, but didn't see him again until last year's solo piano Moonface show at the Lido
Which is just a long way of saying the anticipation was high to see not only Moonface, but Siinai along with him as well. Having just released their second collaborative album, My Best Human Face, it was the first time in Canada for Finnish Siinai as they came to Fortune Sound Club in Vancouver.
Opening the night was Krug's Wolf Parade compatriot Dante Decaro, but unfortunately I got there just at the tail end of this set. He was on stage with a guitar, joined by a keyboardist, playing some slow burning songs.
It wasn't long after that Moonface and Siinai took to a dimly lit stage, the five members shrouded in shadows, only occasionally lit by passing spotlights in soft blues and yellows, adding to the mood of the music.
Starting off with "Quickfire, I Tried", Spencer Krug's distinct vocals filling the room, before kicking into the frantic "Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips". They played from both collaborative albums, including explosive songs like "I'm Not The Phoenix Yet" and the simmering intensity of "They Call Themselves Old Punks", to the more mellow "The Nightclub Artiste".
Near the end of the set a girl from the crowd shouted "Play Yesterday's Fire!" and Krug quickly replied "you got it" and without hesitation or missing a beat, the band immediately launched into the song. It was either ridiculously fortuitous timing, or the quickest & best request fulfilment I've ever seen. (It was probably the former, but I like to think the latter) .
After that, he fielded another request for "City Wrecker", the haunting song finishing off the main set. But of course, they were back -- not without Krug pointing out what an absurd tradition the whole encore thing is -- with one last "slow and loud" song, "Lay Your Cheek On Down" finishing the night.
Spencer Krug is great at pouring emotion into his songs, and Siinai more than kept up with him, keeping the audience rapt the entire time. Krug even pointing out how 'quiet' the crowd was, but not necessarily in a bad way. There was still wild applause and cheering between songs, but little to no chit chat, which is always nice, meaning the bad had the room's full attention. And I couldn't think of a better way to spend a Sunday evening.
Quickfire, I Tried
Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips.
The Nightclub Artiste
I'm Not The Phoenix Yet
They Call Themselves Old Punks
Ugly Flower Pretty Vase
Lay Your Cheek On Down