Hot off their new album Light The Sky, Acadian hip hop duo Radio Radio trekked across Canada to finish in Vancouver. It had been a while since they were last here, and the packed Biltmore Cabaret greeted them with great enthusiasm. I had heard many good things about their live show, but hadn't seen them perform before, so I was excited.
An added bonus was the opener, Kaylee Johnston. I had seen her play a couple tribute shows in the last few months, and was floored by her talent. But somehow hadn't seen her doing her own material, which I was glad to change. It was her first time playing with her current backing band -- a guitarist and another on keys and tracks -- with Kaylee front and centre, occasionally playing acoustic guitar, letting her powerful voice fly over her pop music. And it was pop music, with a bit of an edge to it. She promised a song called "Kickdrum" would kick us in the face (it did) and "Are You The One For Me" soared before breaking down into a quasi-rap verse. Johnston also slowed it down with songs like the heavy-hearted "Let's Pretend" and a sultry cover of "Hotline Bling".
She ended with her upcoming single "Getting Over You", showing off her great voice, and projecting such confidence, as she did throughout the set.
There were a couple times in the set where you could kind of tell it was their first time playing together (nothing distracting, they just need time to gel together) and I think a live drummer would have also helped. But she teased her upcoming album and a release show in a few months back at the Biltmore, and I will be certain to be there for that.
Not long after, as the crowd built in anticipation, it was time for Radio Radio as Gabriel L.B. Malenfant and Jacques Alphonse Doucet jumped on stage -- almost literally -- and didn't stop moving for an hour and a half. The duo was full of energy, jumping around, dancing (sometimes synchronized) to their electronic hip hop. From songs that got the entire room dancing and jumping with them, like the aptly named "Solo Dance Party" and "My Dance Floor" to songs like the delightfully absurd ode to HGTV with "Remodel (Mike Holmes)".
Other highlights included "Jacuzzi" and "Then Came The Music", which has one of my favourite choruses of the year:
I don’t need another melody
I don’t need another bass line
All I need is some words you see
So how about you bring me some poetry
While their new album is entirely in English, their previous albums were in Chiac, a mixture of French and English, and they not only sang in both languages, but addressed the crowd as well. And during "Tcheindre together" they even lead everyone in some "participaction", singing along in French -- or a close approximation for those who are unilingual (like me).
There was plenty more participaction throughout the set; with "Deskshoo" -- another highlight of the set -- the entire crowd sang joined in yelling "HEY" and gave our best Nature Boy "WOOOs", before they ended the set with the title track from the new album "Light The Sky" and more orchestrated singing along.
But they were not quite done, as they made the crowd work for the encore, and pulled out any remaining stops with a few more songs, pushing right up to the curfew.
Hands down, Radio Radio is one of the most flat-out fun live band I have seen, leaving the crowd a tired, sweaty, and satisfied.
setlsit (disclaimer: best I can remember, may be some errors)
Living A Dream;
Cause I’m a Hoe;
50 Shades of Beige;
Solo Dance Party;
Sunrise/All Inclusive War Tour;
Then Came the Music;
Remodel (Mike Holmes);
Tonight's The Night;
My Dance Floor;
Light The Sky.
Ça c'est nice;
Jacuzzi After Party;
Comment ça va?