Gig Review: The Diviners

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The Diviners take post-Roots oriented songs and update the genre with melodic pop vocal harmonies and deeper rhythms.

At the recent 2016 IPO Festival in Vancouver, Donald Delano and Janis McKenzie brought the full band along and delivered one of those clear, crisp sets of songs that sets the evening right and has audiences smiling and singing along by the 2nd chorus.

It’s the blend of their voices that sets The Diviners apart. Donald and Janis sing together as one, and very well. The band backs this beautifully, starting with bassist and music promoter Gord Badanic. Gord lays down very fine bass that leverages vocal harmonies into melodic bass runs. He doesn’t just support the guitar riffs, he helps propel them.

Drums then need dynamically augment, which is something veteran stick handler Tony Lee does comfortably, barely breaking a sweat while adding energy on stage to keep the show moving along.

Blending three guitars in a live setting takes a careful ear and deft tonal control, which is precisely what Gary Economy excels at. Where Donald strums on acoustic and Janis supports with her electric Gibson, Gary instead chooses to add textural colors with his Gretsch and amps he custom builds.

Together, The Diviners produce a fine and glorious sound in support of uplifting melodies singing bittersweet lyrics.

Just the kind of music needed as summer transitions to fall.

Gig Review: D Trevlon at IPO

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Night two of the International Pop Overthrow Festival began with the compelling song craft of D Trevlon, a gifted singer/songwriter performing solo last Thursday night at The Fairview Pub.

His fully produced recordings convey a transcendent time, place and haunting mood.

Luckily for those in attendance for the stripped down solo set, Trevlon was able to simply make that mood more intimate, more haunting. His voice carries so much life and living.

His singing narrative and solid solo presence also transfixed the crowd, allowing lyrics to fill each corner of the room. There is that sense of his songs being lived in, being genuinely based on past and present life-events.

The best of both worlds would be to have a gig where he sings some songs solo and some songs with a full band – to expand the mood and accentuate the unique story telling.

Give his Man of Investigation album a listen, then go see him perform live.

Gig Review: Pill Squad at IPO August 31st

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Pill Squad simply launch themselves into action as they take the stage, with zero pretensions, zero give-fucks but full on honest, snotty punk attitude.

Just the thing for the last day of August.

At last Wednesday night’s IPO the band ripped through a tight, truncated version of their usual full set. In a way that sometimes serves punk better – gets to the point and ramps up the energy, leaving audiences clamoring for more, which they did at The Fairview Pub.

Tim Chan  was born with a guitar in his hands and slings his six string shooters without ever casting an eye to the neck, making the riffs seem effortlessly energized. Standing in one spot is simply not going to happen and Tim utilizes every square inch of stage available to frame Pill Squad songs  with feisty punk presence.

Ed Hurrell likewise slings his street-battered bass around the other end of the stage, cracking wise with band and audience alike. Bass in the hands of such a happy jester can sometimes turn out badly, but this is not the case here. Ed pummels bass lines into punchy, rocking grooves long before the bass has a chance to  even think about getting jazzy.

Scott Beadle propels the band relentlessly as someone that lives and breathes punk drumming. Live music is always about the people on stage, not just the music in the air. It it is therefore Scott’s happy-go-lucky, all-in attitude that fills the stage, fuels the beats and breaks – and broadcasts humanity beautifully. Keith Moon himself would have been proud of Scott’s complete commitment to rattling around the drum kit and driving the band.

Speaking of feisty, Tracy Brooks brashly belts out Pill Squad punk songs with credible force and conviction. Somewhere along the way, Tracy has lived at least some or all of these lyrics. Band banter always sets a tone and in that regard, Tracy’s banter with Ed, Scott and Tim ensures the playfully edgy tone keeps things moving right along.

Together, Pill Squad entertain and entice feet and butts onto the dance floor where fist pumping into the air is something you want to do, smiling all the way.

Gig Review: The Ford Pier Vengeance Trio

Saturday, August 28th at Lanalou’s

Power Trios forge a tough and unforgiving path every time they play live.

There is no safety net. There is no fourth member adding tonal color or texture from guitar or keyboards. There is no lead singer emoting and being the visual focal point.

In a Power Trio, each member has to be entertaining and deliver both music and stage presence. And that is exactly what all three musicians do in The Ford Pier Vengeance Trio.

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Drummer Bradford Lambert is the definitive rumbling, thunderous powerhouse driving the band and not letting up for even a split second. His no-compromise and no-nonsense approach ensures every beat counts both in terms of sound and in terms of keeping the attention on the band. No prisoners are taken or spared.

Bass can hang back and groove, or in Eric Napier’s hands the bass becomes all lightning and stormy growls under the guitar and vocals. Equally propelling and driving, bass has to be 100% committed within the Power Trio format, or it just doesn’t work. Luckily for audiences, Eric is far more committed than a mere 100%.

Ford Pier himself is a man of many artistic talents & pursuits – the bulk of which he puts aside to let it all rip on guitar and vocals. Gibson humbucking guitar into a roaring tube amp is usually the most effective, most direct and dynamic way to push a three-piece rock band.

Emotional intensity has no bounds when Ford refuses to be restrained in any way. This makes for a joyous and raucous sound, existentialism existing with all its emotional might.

Together they deliver what three-piece Power Trios do best: rock’n’roll. And when you are in the mood to let your ya-ya’s all out, check and see where and when The Ford Pier Vengeance Trio are playing in your area.

Go for the ride.

Gig Review: Top Men

August 26th 2016 at Seven Lounge on Broadway

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Timing could not be better for synthesizer-based bands since the release and success of Stranger Things and its fantastic all-synth music based on John Carpenter’s thrilling soundtracks..

That being said, an all-keyboard band is hard to pull off, live. Luckily, Nanaimo’s Top Men deliver an exceptionally engrossing live show.

There are no bands in recent memory that put their lighting technician on stage with them – but that is precisely what occurred with illumination wizard, Adam Barron, adding another texture of mood to the stage.

Utilizing absurdly inexpensive but effective (and home made) stage lighting, the band would kick into high gear often and the lights would follow. Simple lights percolating along with the arpeggios … then blinding, pulsating big lights along with the powerful crescendos. Very effective.

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Dynamics, dancing  and dazzling visuals effectively bundled in a very good presentation.

While the lighting drew the audience in, the musicianship was top notch and the performance of the band was greater than the sum of all parts.

Good music played well by good musicians. The audience was truly captivated.

Drummer Paul Carpenter had no easy task keeping the groove, pulse and percussion dynamics tight among the electronics,  but he does so with passionate delivery and a big sound from a modest drum kit.

Also very smart and thoroughly enjoyable is how Chris Thompson, Brendan Holm and Liam Gibson share synth-bass, synth-lead and chording duties which keeps the sound fresh and changing. Brendan adds bass guitar to many tracks, adding an additional tonal range.

Classic-style vocoder vocals supplied a clear and present melodic narrative that was unusual and compelling.

They know what they are doing, are young and likely going far.

See them live  because they are one live band worth seeing, hearing and throwing shapes to while swaying, dancing and letting yourself become immersed.

Top Men are a very good band. Follow them on social media and catch them live.

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Gig Review: Shitlord Fuckerman

Friday, August 26th at Seven Lounge

Preface: the late 1960’s through the late ’70s was a golden age of Art Rock. Those not around to witness legendary shows may not quite understand what all the fuss was about.

Sometimes somewhat less melodic than say, Progressive Rock, Art Rock was not so much concerned with entertaining as it was with shaking things up and sometimes delivering a message.

Often times the visual message and delivery overwhelmed the music but making an artistic statement was central. Often times that turned out to be very entertaining.

Art Rock reached a zenith with DEVO as they made a name for themselves first in live shows and later on via innovative forays into music videos.

As the ’80s progressed and MTV/Much Music expanded, music videos adopted Art Rock visuals but then became much more commercial – basically turning into Commercials for bands, singers, records and tours. Mainstream Art Rock fell by the wayside. 

Which brings us to shitlord fuckerman, summoning the better parts of Art Rock ‘s live music form.

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Calling on total commitment and bravery, shitlord took the stage at Seven Lounge on Broadway Friday night and delivered a fantastic, all-in tour-de-force Music Experience.

Songs and sounds  are only one aspect of making live Art Rock music. Putting on a show is essential. And there is where shitlord fuckerman excels.

Words ultimately fail where art and Art Rock are concerned. See for yourself.

Those looking for this kind of “indescribable experience,” both visceral and thought provoking, need to keep tabs on shitlord‘s next appearance.

Well worth attending as she takes avant-garde into new territory.

I shit you not.

Gig Review: The Food, Rash for Life, Parrenthesses and Bad Moon Water Girls bring summer fun back to the WISE.

WISE Hall, August 13th, 2016

On a summer night lingering under sunshine glow, sunset dreams can turn into magic when bands take the stage.

Saturday night was no exception to this – a totally fun night of music that left everyone smiling and tingling after a perfect lineup of bands fell into place naturally.

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Anthony Charrette and Andrew Koltek took the stage first, debuting as Bad Moon Water Girls for the first time – a guitar/drums duo covering an intense and diverse sonic palette.

Aided with room-warming Taurus bass pedals, Koltek’s guitar figures ranged from melodic splendor to staccato rage before diving back into ambient wash while bracing for compelling new riffs that followed.

Meanwhile across the stage, Charrette’s radiant Cheshire cat grin simply drew  the audience further into the music as his arms rambled around the drums, coaxing syncopated grooves and dynamic pulses out of a modest kit.

Together the pair opened the evening’s music with a surprising array of flare, fun and melodic intensity. Their natural ease with having fun on stage sparked up the summer tone inside the WISE just right.

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Next, Parrenthesses unleashed their denser, long-form conceptual music. A perfect contrast to BMWG and yet stemming from the same Power Duo headwaters. Performed with a deceptively  casual nonchalance, the music of Parrenthesses grew and grew in intensity.

Fans of ambidexterity get their money’s worth witnessing drummer Levi Bakker playing complex piano runs with right hand, while drumming left handed across a full drum kit. Needs to be seen to be fully appreciated because he sounds like two different people playing two different parts … while also singing, no less.

Which in no way diminishes guitarist Elliott Vernon’s masterful fret and pedal prowess as he shifted moods and tones with clockwork precision. His overflowing passion driving home the final narrative of spirituality vs. identity, which hauntingly hung there in the room like a dream.

Their music deserves repeated listening because the sum total of the songs add up to something quite moving and is well worth seeking out.

And just when the summer night seemed headed off into something darker, more serious and more Progressive in nature ~along came The Rash For Life.

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The Rash For Life are fun and entertaining, they’re real and they’re fabulous. Smiles crept across dancing faces one and all, each happily succumbing to The Rash’s irresistible onslaught on all things proper and calm.

Benson Musaev knows a thing or two about proper and calm but willfully chooses to eschew both in the name of knocking decency flat on its ass. Bass can decently hold the band together, or can indecently lead,  which is what Musaev does with wild abandon and gleeful aplomb.

No riff is sacred – as it should be when there is this much fun to be had.

And fun naturally beckons Anthony Charrette to join in with his more primal drumming for this band (Spoiler Alert: a Gong is abused).

Which does not mean fun rules out sensitive balladry from a sensitive lead singer. Or maybe it does. You decide when you attend their next gig.

Because singer Patt Skuce reveals all and emotes all things shoutable, while wearing a large mirrorball on his head. A mirroball helmet complete with LEDs on the inside.

Skuce best answers the question: what if Hank Williams Jr. invented rap and fronted The Beastie Boys?

Just go see them at their next gig. You will have fun. You will smile and dance. Music is suppose to be this much fun.

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And fun is what The Food bring more of in abundance. Before long everyone in the room is dancing, smiling and having tons of summer fun.

If you have never experienced a live baritone sax section, do yourself a favor and check out the one-two punch of Scott Bristow and Al Norine as they give riffing guitars a run for their money. Together, their interwoven horn arrangements hearken back to the fine soulful pulse found in late ’60s R&B bands.

It’s then up to guitarists Michael Celli and Elliott Vernon to notch out a different set of sounds and comping riffs – which they tidily do while ratcheting up the groove.

Underpinning all: the grounded, bouncing bottom-end lines from bassist Jeremy Evers, punctuated by brisk beats courtesy of Levi Bakker.

Surfing over all this glorious, infectious sound is ring leader/lead singer Joseph Musters and harmony heroine Kimberleigh Roseblade. Partners in crime leaving no audience members untouched by their energy and joy.

(Missing from this performance was oboist Lisa Jensen.)

If fun and dancing be the food of life, seek out any or all of these bands – or follow them online. Go to their next gigs. You will come away satisfied and happy* and, especially for The Rash for Life or The Food, you will have danced your ass off.

*Inexplicably as happy as you feel on a perfect summer night.