PEAK PERFORMANCE PROJECT 2015 BC SHOWCASE #3
October 8, 2015 - @ Fortune SoundClub, Vancouver
By Kevin Gau
Six years have passed since I took the stage in the first Peak Performance Project Showcase. The muscles in my cheeks hurt from all the nostalgia. Maybe that's how Tamara Stanners manages to completely avoid aging? She looks exactly the same as she did in 2009 when I fronted The Left and we placed second in the PPP.
Since then, over 100 bands have passed through that gauntlet, and we have come out the other side a family. A nervous family. This is not a normal show, there is an anxious energy as the performers get ready to execute what they started almost a year ago. For almost all of the bands, this will be their last show for the project. As if an extensive workload, business plan, and performance schedule weren't already enough, Heineken's are 7$.
Mike Edel held nothing back with his rootsy acoustic Canadian folk music. A beautifully shot video opened the show, with Mike explaining the meaning behind the name of his latest album, India, Seattle. Two places that are different, and yet the same. His opening song Julia is Dan Mangan-esk, with lyrics like “And I know it's only two weeks in Calgary,” that juxtapose regret and nostalgia. Wait, am I projecting? Maybe a little.
His voice is so smooth, it makes silk feel like sandpaper, so I could easily forgive the odd campy melody. The band bravely came into the middle of the crowd and got everyone to stop talking, which is harder than it sounds at Fortune Sound Club. They played a song acoustically, which for me, was the highlight of the entire show. To see the crowd hush so Mike could be heard created this surprisingly intimate moment that I've never seen anyone actually pull off. Peak bands have tried in the past to get everyone to be silent, and if they fail it's uncomfortably awkward. The risk paid off, and the only people making noise were singing along.
Next up was CHERSEA, a fantastic singer and musician complimenting herself nicely with a loop pedal. Accompanying her piano she layered trumpet, driving beats, and soaring melodies. Some songs leaned toward disco while others, rock, and some songs had a bit of a hip-hop feel. Whatever style she did, she had the most hauntingly beautiful voice. Some were reminiscent of Feist's 1234, keeping heads bouncing and feet tapping. Certain riffs got repetitive, but I guess that is the nature of the loop pedal. She really knew how to entertain and use the stage, throwing giant plastic glitter balls into the crowd to play with was a nice touch.
Little India closed the show and Vancouver almost danced. These boys play halfway between catchy and cool, with tonnes of energy and great harmonies. I will put them on next to Passion Pit next time I host a party. It's really hard to listen to them and not feel great about yourself. They have crisp, tight, creative drums beats with delayed guitars, and noodling melodic basslines. In their songs, Sleep and, Oola Little India grab from the same bag of tricks that Bombay Bicycle Club grab from. Specifically, when they string quarter notes up a major scale and call it a chorus, or when the singer and the guitar player play and sing the same thing at the same time, note for note. These tricks have been used by hundreds of bands like XTC, long before Bombay Bicycle Club, so it doesn't bother me that they weren't “first” to re-popularize it. They'll be fine. Overall, a great show.