Peak Performance Project Showcase #2 @ Fortune -- 09/25/14

Can you believe it's already the sixth year of the Peak Performance Project? This year they've changed the project up a little. 102.7 The Peak and Music BC have pared it down from a Top 20 to a Top 12, but that was only to make room for a Top 12 of Alberta bands through the newly launched 95.3 The Peak, and Alberta Music.

Part one of the project was a "rock & roll boot camp" where the musicians went on a week long retreat to get lectures and advice from industry pros, to help them refine their craft, and team up with an Albertan band for a collaboration song. Phase two is a series of shows at Fortune Sound Club; three artists a night for four weeks, showing off what they learned to not only an audience, but a panel of judges. They've also been assigned to learn a "Classic Canadian Cover" to play during their set. I always love hearing bands play cover songs, and it's always interesting to see who each act chooses, if it's someone obvious to their style, or something way outside the box. (And yes, I do have a running tally of bands that chose Neil Young)

While the first showcase was more of a folksy affair, this one was a little more rockin'.

Altered By Mom: This is the second year in the project for Devon Lougheed. His previous band beekeeper competed a couple years ago, but have since broke up, leading the way for this new band with an unabashed 90s alt-rock influenced sound, who were one of my early favourites this year.
With a stage adorned in balloons -- including a large A, B, and M -- the band started as Devon made his way through the crowd, pumping people up, before jumping on stage. And then jumping around the stage. Devon has always had an unlimited reserve of energy on stage, and this was no different. At one point he even brought Peak DJ Carly Walde up on stage for a faux proposal during "Small Joys", and later ran through the crowd to hand out Altered By Mom cootie catchers/fortune tellers.
Their cover was a grunged out version of "Old Man" by Neil Young, which they had in their pocket from before the project, and they closed the set with some of their strongest songs; a slower, more heartfelt song called "Larger Than The Ribs" dedicated to all of the bands' moms, before doing a 180 music- and lyric-wise into the very cheeky "Cup Of Coffee, Babe". They brought up a couple guests for their last song, their first-place-winning Bootcamp Collaboration song, Kevvy Mental from Fake Shark Real Zombie and Jasmin Parkin of Mother Mother, the set ended with a giant singalong, Devon splitting the crowd for duelling vocals, for an amazing finish to their set.

Miss Quincy & The Showdown: Another one of my favourites going into the project this year is the all-girl blues rock band from up north. Miss Quincy's raw, powerful voice drove the set as they started with "What Is Life If It Ain't Strange" off their recent album Roadside Recovery (produced by PPP alumni Matthew Rogers of The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer). They didn't say too much through the set, mostly letting the music speak for itself, from badass & sultry songs like "Bad Love" to the almost hymnal "Take It To The Well", which had the crowd stomping and clapping along -- and singing by the end.
Miss Quincy teased a few old standbys for her cover, someone you might expect a rock band to play, before subverting expectations and launching into "Boys Wanna Be Her" by Peaches. I never would have guessed a Peaches cover, but as soon as they started, it made the most sense in the world. It was a great cover, and unexpected, which made it my favourite of the night.
(side note: the other two covers of the night were the third time each song has been covered by PPP bands over the years)
And finally, they wrapped up the set with the my favourite of the set, "Wild Fucking West", a gritty garage blues rocker that was the perfect way to cap off the set.

Goodwood Atoms: The final band of the night, they were a bit of an anticlimax compared to the first two. From Vancouver, the band was the only one of the night I wasn't familiar with, and had a pretty generic folk rock sound. They started with lead singer Francis Hooper out alone, moody back lighting casting him in silhouette, before the rest of the band joined him for what was a pretty by-the-numbers folk set, shaky harmonies and all. I wouldn't say it was bad, but just did nothing to grab my attention.
Their Classic Canadian Cover was a pretty obvious choice as they did a pretty straightforward version of "The Weight" by The Band, trading off verses, joined by fellow PPP'er David Newberry.
They also had an inexplicable and superfluous belly dancer come out intermittently throughout their set to dance back and forth at the front of the stage. I'm not against backup dancers in general, but they have to make sense in context, and be backup dancers. She was neither, out in front of the band, and there did not seem to be any reason for her to be there other than boobs. It didn't feel like part of the show, it just felt exploitative.

Aside from that, it was a good showcase with two of my three favourites from this month's project. They're taking a break next week, but will be back at Fortune in two weeks with a showcase that includes my third favourite, Shred Kelly, The Tourist Company, and Jodi Pederson.