Cobra Ramone with Miss Quincy & The Showdown and The Wild Romantics @ The Waldorf -- 03/03/17

It's been quite a while since the last time I saw live music at the Waldorf. Since the old promoters had a little trouble with the rent a few years ago, I believe they've only been doing DJ/dance party nights. But what a way to return, with three of the city's most badass bands together on one bill. (And, I don't think I can state enough how much I liked the poster)

Starting off the night was The Wild Romantics who kicked things off with a sultry number, then cranked up the rock, living up to both the 'wild' and 'romantic' parts of their name.
The couple of Aleisha Kalina & Evan Miller, splitting vocal duties, have a great chemistry on stage, playing off each other and getting in each others faces all throughout the set. They played a number of new songs, but included some familiar like the chilled out "Memphis TN", and ended off with a great pair, an incendiary new song called "Heart Attack" and the raucous "Fist Fight". 

Next up was Miss Quincy & The Showdown, Jody Peck on guitar joined by Jen Foster on drums & Jessie Robertson on bass. With their blues-tinged rock, Jody's voice went from a raw growl to soaring, sometimes in the same song. Highlights included the sexy bass groove of "Making Money", and a new one, half-jokingly introduced as they first song that is neither a sad song nor a drinking song. 
After the heartbreaking "Remind Me of Myself", they cranked the dial back up with "Wild Fucking West" and the seductive "Bad Love", before their kickass cover of Peaches' "Boys Wanna Be Her" to end things off. They're always an energetic & fun to watch band live, and this night was no different. 

And finally, wrapping up the night was Cobra Ramone (who, along with Evan, was celebrating her birthday that evening). She was joined by Trevor Snakedust on keys and the non-serpentine-named Pat Steward on drums for some straight up, boot-to-the-chest rock songs.
Cobra Ramone has a captivating stage presence, her powerful voice filling the room, with songs about breakup sex, another she introduced as written in prison, the frantic "Bang Bang", and the venomous "She Don't Know". Ramone also teased new material, including one I really liked but didn't catch the name of. 
The set came to a close with "I'm A Mess", starting low and intense before building & erupting into a bonkers climax, the perfect ending for a set. But then, after that, I witnessed one of the rarest things in live music: a legitimate encore. They had left the stage and the house music came back up, but there was still a pocket of people chanting "Cobra! Cobra!" so Ramone & the band came back out and rocked out one more song. 

Each of these three bands can put on a hell of a show, and it was a nice night in East Van to see them all share the stage. 

Pink Mountaintops @ Waldorf -- 12/15/12

Most people know Steve McBean as the frontman of  Black Mountain, but he's also got a solo project that's been a little quiet for the past few years, Pink Mountaintops. The first -- and only -- time I saw them was a few years ago at my least favourite local venue, whose terrible sound put a damper on the show. So I was a little more than excited to see them again, especially at a much better venue, the Waldorf.

I missed the first band, Ford Pier Vengeance Trio due to a holiday party, arriving between sets and just in time to see Sex Church. Which I didn't actually realise until after, thanks to them only mumbling their name noncommittally once (maybe twice). They were a good fit for an opening band, a psychedelic rock sound with fuzzy guitars, which I was really liking, up until the lead singer joined in. The vocals wasn't very coherent, mumbled into the microphone, and I swear at one point he was just muttering random syllables. The band was full of really good musicians, and I really wanted to like them, but the vocals just didn't land for me.

Not too long after, Steve McBean took the stage alone and Pink Mountaintops began. The first song, "Comas" was just McBean and his guitar, but then a drum machine kicked in for "I (Fuck) Mountains" and the rest of the set to flesh out the sound. It was a contrast to the last time I saw them, a half dozen members large, this time more focusing mostly on McBean and his psychedelic guitar work, which was mind boggling at times. I also wasn't sure how McBean would fare on his own, as he's never really been one to interact with the crowd -- and for the most part he was silent -- but his presence while playing more than made up for it, especially evident in songs like "The Gayest of Sunbeams" with its upbeat, driving guitar.
Mid-way through the set he enlisted in the help of a couple friends, one on a floor tom and percussion and Ashley Webber on backup vocals, who were on and off stage for the rest of the night. (There was also a third guy who joined them for a song who was not playing any instruments, but rather handing out slices of cake to the crowd)
Other highlights from the night included "While We Were Dreaming" with the graphic but strangely moving line "
And if I could find your heart / 
I would pull it from your chest / 
And smash you with my fist / 
Til it was beating" 
and the heartbreaking "Tourist In Your Town" which ended the main set. McBean was, of course, back out for an encore of a couple more, the haunting "Vampire" and "Can You Do That Dance?" ending off the night with another high energy song.

When he first came out alone, I was a bit trepidation, but I should have known better to question Steve McBean. It ended up being a strong show, and I can only hope that this means more Pink Mountaintops is on its way soon.

Royal Canoe & Krief @ Waldorf -- 09/14/12

One of my favourite guitarists is The Dears' Patrick Krief, so of course I was a fan of his previous solo project, Black Diamond Bay. Well, Patrick is back with a new solo album, simply under the name Krief, and when I saw he was coming back to Vancouver I knew I needed to check it out. And then, when I found out Royal Canoe -- who played one of the best shows this past spring -- was on the bill too? Well, this was going to be one hell of a show.

Though there was a bit of confusion surrounding the show. There was a big mix-up with the set times of the show, so not even the bands knew what time they were going on until the last minute, and even earlier in the same day I had seen conflicting reports about whether it was Krief or Royal Canoe headlining the night.

One thing that was for sure, the opening band was Lost Lander, from Portland. It was the first show of a small tour of the Pacific Northwest with Royal Canoe, and they were an good choice for an opener. Strong, dark indie pop with some nice boy/girl harmonies between the guitarist & lead singer John Gnorski and Sarah Fennell on keyboard, they put on a very enjoyable set, with a good stage presence. Though there was a bit of chatting with the growing crowd a little between songs, there was also a few awkward pauses, and they wrapped up with the two best songs of the set, "Cold Feet" and "Belly of the Bird / Valentina" from their debut album DRRT.
They were nothing too mind-blowing, but put on an entertaining set, and I wouldn't mind checking them out more int he future.

Next up was Krief, whose set started a bit slow, as they had to chance the mic cable after the first song. But from the second song on, they filled the room with a blues inspired indie-rock sound, and deep & cinematic, beautifully textured songs. Krief didn't say much during the set, just letting the music speak for itself, and did it ever; the lush songs not only evoked emotion from the lyrics, but the musical arrangements as well. Highlights included "Simple Lives", with its soaring chorus, and the catchy "Perfect Bodies".
After the rocking "What We Wanted", an older Black Diamond Bay song, they closed out with the title track from the recent album, Hundred Thousand Pieces, starting soft then exploded with intensity, and featuring an extended, amazing, face-melting solo from Krief.
It was a pretty fantastic set, and hopefully it won't be another three years until I get the chance to see Patrick Krief playing his solo material live again.

That right there would have been a show worth seeing, but there was still Royal Canoe to wrap up the night. As with the other times I've seen them, they almost had more bodies and equipment than the stage could fit, the six members with an assortments of keyboards, synth, effects pedals, dual drums and more. There was one point where, to get to the other side of the stage, Matt Schellenberg had to hop off and walk around.
They started the set with "Hold On To The Metal", a great example of their complex, yet catchy wall-of-synth rock sound. Their live so is so tight and refined, with densely layered songs that still remain accessible. Highlights of the set were a couple new songs from their recent 7" Purple and Gold, a sexy slow jam called "Summer Sweat" & the crunchy "Show Me Your Eyes", and the bombastic "Bathtubs".
The set seemed way too short as they played right up to the curfew, not bothering with the encore fake-out, ending the set with the incredible "Nightcrawlin'", featuring Matt Peters again using the effects mic to run his voice through what I dubbed the "demonic processor", to give his vocals a deep and electronic quality.

I've said it several times before -- and I'm sure I will again -- but Royal Canoe is one of the best, and most unique, live bands in Canada right now, and I will be there without hesitation next time they're in town. And with Krief on the bill as well, for another excellent set, this was an amazing all-around show.

Christopher Smith CD Release w/ Snowblink & The Belle Game @ Waldorf -- 09/12/12

Last night was the CD release party for Christopher Smith's latest offering, Earning Keep. He was joined at the Waldorf by fellow Vancouverites The Belle Game and, a last minute addition to the show, Toronto's Snowblink. They were supposed to have a show at the Rickshaw on the same night, but I guess something happened and they were added to this bill.

Starting off the night was The Belle Game, the six of them (seven when Andrew Lee was out to play trumpet) packing the stage of the Waldorf. They filled the room with their indie-rock-slash-chamber-pop sounds and Andrea Lo's powerful voice -- even though they admitted she was feeling under the weather -- with songs from their upcoming album Ritual Tradition Habit.
Highlights included "Wasted Light" and the powerful "River", and the whole set was brought to an explosive climax with the first single from the new album, "Wait Up For You"; which, despite featuring the ever-prevalent singer-on-a-floor-tom for the intro, had an amazing energy & soared to an ending with Alex Andrew hopping off stage to finish off his frantic solo in the crowd.

Next up was Christopher Smith, joined by a few familiar faces; including Peter Carruthers on bass and Michelle Faehrmann out for a few songs on cello. He had a folksy, yet lush, rock sound, though a lot of the set was about the same tempo. It picking up slightly towards the end, with the last song, "No Light Could Pass Though Me so I Have a Shadow", being the highlight of the set, and definitely having highest energy, building to a grand crescendo of the band rocking out.
There wasn't much interaction through the set, a couple "thanks", here and there, but he preferred to let the music speak for itself. 
It was a perfectly enjoyable set, but he was overshadowed by the other two acts of the night.

And finally, Snowblink took the stage to round out the night. I'm not sure if it was because it was pushing midnight on a Wednesday, or that they were a last minute addition, but sadly a lot of the crowd had dispersed, leaving only a couple dozen people. But that was their loss, as from the moment they hit stage, the duo of  Daniela Gesundheit -- whose guitar had antlers mounted on it -- and Dan Goldman -- also on guitar -- were amazing.  Daniela had a great presence and charisma on stage, as well as a stunning voice, and their ethereal dream-pop was captivating.
Even though the set wasn't technically "perfect" -- they had a couple issues throughout the night -- it felt very natural and loose, with them playing off the glitches perfectly and connecting with the small audience; at one point handing out bells so they could ring them on cue during one of their songs, and almost chatting one-to-one with people.
Highlights of the set included current single, the infectiously catchy "Black and White Mountains", which had  Daniela on a drum pad, and a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper", which was introduced with  Daniela simultaneously apologizing and saying "you're welcome".

All in all, it was a great night of music, with the acts being different enough, but still working perfectly together. I would see any one of the three again, especially Snowblink, who I hope is back soon for a longer show.

Black Mountain @ Waldorf -- 08/25/12

It's been a long time since I last saw Black Mountain (almost exactly a year) so I was more than a little excited to see Vancouver's psych-rockers at the Waldorf's Outdoor Summer Concert. Joined by a returning Ladyhawk, Basketball, Toronto's Quest for Fire -- who will be touring with Black Mountain -- and Von Bingen, they packed the Waldorf parking lot for an evening of rock.
Unfortunately I was off earning some money, so I missed the bulk of the show, arriving mere moments before Black Mountain hit the stage.

Right out of the bat, Steve McBean broke a string on the first song, and the intensity of the show didn't let up from there. Launching into "Tyrants" early on, the eight minute song ebbs and flows from ear shattering, head banging guitars and drums to the powerful beauty of Amber Webber's voice; and mirrored the structure of the set, which flawlessly went between straight ahead rockers like "Old Fangs" and the calmer moments, like McBean grabbing an acoustic guitar for "Buried by the Blues".

Other highlights of the set included "Angels" -- which McBean dedicated to his mother who was wed at the Waldorf years ago -- and the moody "Queens Will Play", that was yet another great example of Webber's strong and haunting voice.

The climax of the set was the explosive "Stormy High" and they ended with "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" from their first, self titled album. But they were, of course, back out for a few more including the driving "Let Spirits Ride" and finishing off with "Roller Coaster"

Maybe it's because they don't play all that often -- they don't over-saturate themselves -- I always forget just how incredible they are live. McBean amazing shredding, his & Webber's voices blending so well together, and Joshua Wells' wailing drumming; they're all factors that make Black Mountain one of Vancouver's best, most intense, and ass-kicking-est, bands to see live.