Archive for commodore ballroom

Sia at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Aug 19 2011

Posted in music journalism, rock & roll, writing with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2011 by bex0r

Credit: Ash Tanasiychuk for The Snipe News

Aussie songstress Sia (not to be confused with American drumstep artist Ana Sia) along with two pals, Ximena Sarinana and Oh Land, impressed the sold-out Commodore Ballroom crowd Friday night with a show featuring all aspects of the feminine. From the cute and petite Spanish soul stylings of Ximena, to the waifish avant-garde posturing of Oh Land to the gutsy barroom growls and toilet bowl humor of Sia Furler, each female brought a distinctly different character and a sound for every palate.

Definitely the black-horse up ‘n’ comer Ximena stole the award for straight-up star quality, charisma and talent. Putting the insubstantial and at times inane Oh Land to shame, Ximena had a solid crowd gathered to worship her powerful voice and exotic lyrical stylings.  Seeing her on stage you would never guess the petite singer/songwriter was barely 5’2 – her voice projected in a manner of operatic divas three times her size.

Next up the theatrical Oh Land took the stage to treat the audiences to her latest rehash of late 2000’s electro-clash meets ’90s Euro house. This reviewer admired her costume, but that was about it.

Finally, the performer everyone had been waiting for appeared before us in a ruffled cape (which she joked was covered in vaginas) and cascading tiered skirt. “Quirky, extroverted and fun” pretty much sums up Sia’s onstage presence. Her stage set was decorated with custom carpets, crocheted blankets and every other stand and boom had been yarn-bombed in true East Van style.

Her witty, infectious banter won the crowd over in between her trademark gut-wrenching, pitch-perfect vocal performances. Bringing out material from all three of her major label releases, she also performed her crowd-pleasing cover of Madonna’s “You Can’t Hurt Me Now” – her unique homage to an ’80s pop inspiration and not ironic in the slightest. She left her two biggest hits, “Breathe Me” and “Clap Your Hands”, for the encore, which seemed fine with everyone. “And now for the two songs you all paid to see,” she snidely quipped. We didn’t mind at all.

Review: Crystal Castles March 7th, Commodore Ballroom

Posted in drugs, femme, reviews, rock & roll, writing with tags , , , on March 9, 2011 by bex0r
Crystal Castles

Credit: Alfred Hermida

Ballsier than Joan Jett, punker than Siouxsie Sioux, and louder than Shirley Manson – Alice Glass, along with producer Ethan Kath, performed a punishing set on March 7th, 2011 at the Commodore Ballroom.

Crystal Castles, who perform a mix of goth-psych rave, glitchy thrash-rock and anthems for the 8-bit Nintendo generation, assaulted the crowd with subterranean bass, ear-shattering beats/glitch, and a perfectly choreographed light show that often resulted in painful sensory-overload (as observed by the dozens of techno-seekers frantically escaping the crush of bodies). For those tough enough to withstand the onslaught, CC delivered a truly mind-blowing set of material from last year’s Crystal Castles (II) and debut release Crystal Castles (2008).

Kath apologetically opened the show with an announcement that Glass had broken her ankle. His bandmate is infamous for staging last-minute hi-jinks before, during and after performances, often appearing intoxicated, passing out on stage, physically assaulting fans or just straight-up refusing to play (which Kath seemed to be momentarily insinuating with his pre-set disclaimer).

Crystal Castles

Credit: Alfred Hermida

There was a pregnant pause in the audience while gossip flew from group to group through the haze of pot smoke. Would she play? Had she in fact, hurt herself? According to Wikipedia, Alice Glass broke her ankle on January 18th while in Tokyo, but continued the tour on crutches, ignoring her doctor’s orders. While the crowd hung in suspense, Kath gave a huge grin and confessed Glass would play anyways, prompting an explosive crowd reaction as they launched into their first song and scorched many a retina with a near-nuclear light show.

If Glass was still suffering from her injury, it didn’t stop her from taking a mid-set break to launch herself into the crowd, surfing high above adoring hands. Nor did it stop her from delivering what is one of the most amazing performances by a lead singer ever witnessed at the Commodore. This woman is a revelation to modern music. While more hot mess than Winehouse, flakier than Courtney Love and with a penchant for on-stage antics that would give Karen O a run for her money, Glass truly delivers the musical goods when it comes to giving her fans what they want – and sometimes more than they can handle.

It’s a shame the night was tainted by the loss of both the bass and drum channels for about five minutes during the climax of Crystal Castles’ encore. Many of the previously ecstatic concert-goers began heading for the exit, while the hardcore fans looked about at each other helplessly, wondering “What the hell is going on?”

Possibly the bass and drum channels were overloaded, as the sound was very low-end-heavy, often drowning out the subtleties of Glass’s vocals and Kath’s more delicate synth lines. But what was lost in subtlety was more than made up for in sheer intensity, turning this concert into a kind of perversely enjoyable endurance test: too loud/bright to withstand, but too good not to. Exactly what one should expect from Crystal Castles, when so many bands worry about alienating potential and current fans – CC just doesn’t give a fuck.

Review: Morcheeba @ the Commodore Ballroom, March 4th

Posted in reviews, rock & roll, writing with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2011 by bex0r

Beauty. Elegance. Class.

Such are the values Skye Edwards, reunited with trip-hop group Morcheeba, brought to the Commodore on the evening of Thursday, March 3rd. An authentic throwback to the more glamorous times of soul singers and immaculately presented ingénues, Ms. Edwards took the stage in pure style and with little pause for effect, and launched into full-blown numbers such as “The Sea”, “Friction” and “Part of the Program”. With a mellow sound as smooth and sexy as Edward’s inimitable voice, the band was tight from the get-go and pumped the crowd with flawless guitar lines, throbbing bass and big-ass beats.

Morcheeba - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - Mar 3rd 2011

Credit: Michael Caswell

Touring in support of Blood Like Lemonade, Morcheeba‘s first release with Edwards in nine years, the band seems to have hardly skipped a beat since 2002’s Charango – although the crowd of adoring fans obviously had been anxiously awaiting their return (and, more importantly, avec Edwards).

To turn and see a few dozen jaws ajar, eyes transfixed, heads and bodies undulating in perfect synchronicity demonstrates the hypnotic charm and almost theatrical control Edwards commands over a crowd. She displays an effortless grace in perfectly phrasing a lyric and delivering it with both conviction and emotion, along with a self-awareness speaking of both maturity and vulnerability. If there ever was a modern-day singer that captures the spirit of a young Billy Holiday, it is Skye Edwards.

Morcheeba - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - Mar 3rd 2011

Credit: Michael Caswell

 

On “Never Was An Easy Way”, guitarist Ross Godfrey ripped solos fueled by pure passion and free-flowing musical mojo – nary a macho ego-driven wank to be heard. In fact, the whole band seemed to emote that dry brand of humble Brit charm that is a rare treat to see for such a lauded act.

Morcheeba then proceeded to win this reviewer’s heart by treating the Commodore to a raucous cover of Arlo Guthrie’s classic tune “Coming into Los Angeles” that had the band channeling ’60s psych-rock and which prompted many a joint to be lit among the audience. Although Edwards admitted previously falling victim to our curiously strong BC bud, she good naturedly reminisced smoking up with old school fans in Vancouver and dedicated “Slow Down“ to the hardcore ‘Cheeba-heads.

Overall this concert was reassuring, like something that is lost and then found again. In a music biz filled with money-grabbing reunion tours and a lot of over-the-hill has-beens STILL milking it, it’s comforting to see a reunion that not only reaches previous heights but often surpasses them.

Morcheeba - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - Mar 3rd 2011

Credit: Michael Caswell

 

Friendly Fires @ Commodore Review

Posted in reviews, rock & roll, writing with tags , , , on December 2, 2009 by bex0r

I haven’t done one of these in awhile, and i’m also currently studying for my LSAT (on saturday!) plus finals next weeks,  so I’m gonna try to cram as much musical goodness into one post as humanly possible…

Here’s what you will find within:

1) Friendly Fires + the XX show review

2) Upcoming Gigs to check out in Vancouver

Enjoy!

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