If there was one thing I realized yesterday at Lee's Palace: yes they have air-conditioning! That wouldn't have been apparent if you were at Monday night's Pernice Brothers show. The air-conditioning must have been on the fritz. Even if thinks heated up during controller.controller's and VHS or Beta's set, at least the air-conditioning kept it reasonably comfortable. (I'd like to conserve energy as much as the next person, but when it comes to air-conditioning, I'm an energy whore.) Apparently, Camouflage Nights were a last minute addition to the night because I don't remember ever seeing them being advertised as openers. Of course, I missed their set.
Fresh from a slot at New York City's Siren Music Festival came VHS or Beta. Their music was a good compliment to controller.controller's. Whereas controller.controller's influences tend towards more classic post-punk influences such as P.I.L., The Slits and Joy Division, VHS or Beta have some British alternative, indie, and shoegazerish qualities that are quite refreshing. VHS or Beta displayed a good dose of danceability courtesy of the wicked bass guitar arrangements but also showed a sense of melody courtesy of the sometimes-shoegazerish guitars and the lead vocalist's vocals which harkened back to a late 80's British alt-rock aesthetic. Keeping things solid on the backend were the drummers persistent drumming style and the keyboardist's spacey drones and supplementary percussion. The most succinct description I can make of VHS or Beta's music is to think of them as a cross between The Cure and Gang of Four. At least that's what their music reminded me of. If some of the members emo haircuts were kind of a turn off at first, they turned out to be a decent band at least. Additional brownie points for an asian guy being the lead vocalist. Myself being asian, it's comforting to find more and more asians in indierock. Respect. Although, the lead vocalist's attempt at a joke totally tanked. [Does the joke of a band saying "it's nice being in Montreal", when they're in Toronto, still work these days?] Maybe there's a reason why 'we' aren't comedians. ;-)
Screw the whole getting-out-of-Lee's-Palace-weeknight-shows early because the whole night was off schedule. controller.controller were scheduled to come on at 11:15 pm but VHS or Beta's set was already off schedule so that meant controller.controller probably didn't come on until at least after 11:30 pm. Even though controller.controller had recently played an opening set at Sneaky Dee's at the beginning of the month, the Lee's Palace show felt much more special, and almost like a homecoming. This was probably due to the fact that Lee's Palace is a little bit of a larger venue than the usual hole-in-the-wall venues that they've usually played. For a Wednesday night there was a good size crowd on hand. They played a selection of their old "History" favourites as well as a bunch of new tunes. The new tunes were great including the Gang-of-Fourish punk-funk of "City of Daggers" which featured brief moments of pouty shout-out vocals by guitarist Scott Kaija. "PF" sounded like a "History"-era track but I still liked it. They also played another new tune which had a buzz-y, almost Ramones-y feel to it. I think the band sounded a little more casual and loose this night, although that attraction was counteracted somewhat with a slightly harsh sound. It probably didn't help that I was near a speaker(and was wearing ear protection) but when a friend of the band came onstage to sing background vocals on one song(if I recall was "Disco Blackout") her vocals sounded distorted. I don't think I'll ever get tired of their music, but I think I'll stand away from the speakers next time.[photos from the show]
One Louder chimes in, and has photos from the Hard-Fi show yesterday at Rothko in New York City.
Angry Robot has some interesting commentary on the album art for Echo and The Bunnymen's "Ocean Rain" which happens to be one of my favourite album covers EVER!
Lookie here, a black and white photoset of Broken Social Scene.