On Wednesday August 10th, the electric indie rock band The Backseat Lovers played in Vancouver for the first time since 2019. Only having heard a few songs on Spotify, such as “Sinking Ship” and of course, their viral Tik Tok hit “Kilby Girl,” I was looking forward to an upbeat indie performance. What I got was a full-on rock show.
Set in the historic Commodore Ballroom, I was surprised at how well the acoustics filled the large open space. As I entered the packed venue, I could tell I was in the presence of hard-core fans. Every conversation around me was about what album/EP they preferred or what song they hoped they were going to hear. The energy was all anticipation, I knew I was in for a rowdy time.
The Backseat Lovers entered like a burst of fire. The lead singer Joshua Harmon ran onto the stage shirtless, red lights beaming on him as he promptly led the band into a 3 and a half minute instrumental jam, showing off their powerful electric guitar skills that carry their signature sound. No intro, no lyrics; just head-banging guitar shredding. Not at all the opening I expected from this Utah-based indie band.
The crowd swarmed the stage screaming; instantly there was a mosh pit of vintage t-shirts, mom jeans and cowboy boots dancing across the beer-soaked floor. They finished their instrumentals, looked out at their audience with massive grins, and jumped into their single “Pool House,” to which every person sang along to. The Backseat Lovers had their audience entranced, and they knew it.
The stage was minimalistic, with three long rectangles of painted glass windows framing the drum kit. There wasn’t any need for eccentric effects or dramatic lights when you have lead guitarist Jonas Swanson and Joshua Harmon sprinting back and forth across the stage, flipping their hair, and sweating all over their guitars. The band gave everything they had into their performance.
They played a 13 song set consisting mostly of songs from their well-known 2019 album, “When We Were Friends,” along with singles such as “Out of Tune,” “Just a Boy,” as well as a sneaky little acoustic rendition of “Address Your Letters.” They went on to play a couple soon-to-be released tunes such as “Growing and Dying,” which made the night even more special. The song was carried with a heavy acoustic guitar, accompanied by light Beatles-like vocals from Harmon. This feel-good tune was supplemented by a crew member throwing sunflowers into the crowd. Quite a vibe change from the heavy metal entrance. The audience didn’t mind, we were all swaying together, eyes glued to the stage, absorbed by the music.
The band was ecstatic to be back in Vancouver, addressing the crowd with grateful smiles. They reminisced about Vancouver being their first show outside of the United States back in 2019, which they had played in a skateboard shop, and now, 3 years later, to a nearly sold-out show at the Commodore Ballroom.
They closed the show with “Maple Syrup,” but the crowd was not ready for the show to end. The moment the four band members took their exit, every soul in the venue chanted for an encore. The Backseat Lovers did not need much convincing; after about thirty seconds (and a couple of bras tossed on stage), the boys were back with the same fire they entered with. The crowd turned into a roaring cheer as the band hopped on their instruments to play “Sinking Ship.” Joshua Harmon and bass guitarist KJ Ward came together, singing face to face, as Jonas Swanson jumped up beside drummer Juice Welch, shredding his guitar and flipping his hair so hard his hat went flying off the stage.
The boys closed the show with an unforgettable encore, leaving the stage with adoring fans chanting “Backseat! Backseat!” as the lights dimmed.
The finale of an international headlining tour, Bob Moses joined their family and friends in Stanley Park’s Malkin Bowl on Saturday May 21st. The duo took a risk that paid off, as the Vancouver weather gods shone through with sunshine and cloudless skies.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Malkin Bowl, it sits nestled between the tall trees in Stanley Park and is a truly a beautiful stage for bands to play on. Front man Tom Howie spoke about how it was their first time at the Bowl, playing – or otherwise, and that “It feels so good to be home with our Vancouver family.”
The set was an undulating ebb and flow of rock and electronic music..slow and fast. Howie‘s voice proved to be beautifully mellow and sweet, ringing out over the entire crowd in crystal clear clarity.
Spotted around the park grounds, were several parents/family members of the band. Their delight at the sold out show and very friendly crowd was evident as they walked through. At one point during the show, an audience member came and cleared all the discarded cups off the grass, showing just how considerate Bob Moses fans are.
While there wasn’t much talking throughout the concert, Jim Vallance spoke about their new album “The Silence In Between” and how their latest single “Love Brand New” just went number one in the US alternative charts, creating a special moment to find out about it in their hometown amongst family, fans and friends.
Powering into each song, Howie‘s vocals stayed on point the entire performance, receiving great backup vocals from their touring bassist Julio and powerful drum performance from Joe.
During their grammy-nominated song “Tearing Me Up”, Howie invoked audience participation by getting the crowd to sing the final chorus along with him.
While this was an all ages concert, there were only a handful of parents with young children, the majority of audience members being an eclectic mix of “hiking vancouverites” and the subset of “ravers and party goers”.
As the sun set and the park was shrouded in night, the visuals on the LED screens shone through. While simple in design, they were effective and well designed to suit each song. The lighting crew did a great job in basking the band in a warm glow that flashed and danced with each track.
Overall the entire set was an exploration of Prog rock, 80’s synth pop and electronic music. With nods to both Vallance‘s history in trance and techno music as well as Howie‘s rock background.
The final few songs included a cover of Australian band INXS “Need You Tonight” and a shout out to their entire crew and band members that have helped keep them safe while touring.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Bob Moses live, we highly recommend it. There was a lot of hometown pride seeing one of our own up on stage and having achieved so much. The support for this duo was obvious from the sold out crowd, and the eagerness to sing along to the songs.
Been a minute since we’ve seen live music in a busy venue and Fruit Bats were the perfect act back. They took down Hollywood Theatre on March 18th, 2022, a mere couple weeks after BC’s mask mandate ended. There were folks aplenty ready to move to their new and older stuff.
Fruit Bats came out to a sold out Hollywood Theatre on an ethereal stage of clouds and suns. Opening with The Bottom of It, the opener off Gold Past Life before moving into My Sweet Midwest off Absolute Loser. Eric said this was actually an internet request.
A few songs following this, including Cazadera, were shouted out as their Canadian debut. They then moved through their catalogue, from older to new and back again. The packed crowd swayed with them. People were dancing, making out (I haven’t seen that in a while), and back at live music. It was a delightful show.
Much as Sometimes a Cloud moves back and forwards through their discography, this show did too. Eric himself said part of the album is the “collection that you buy for your friend that’s Fruit Bats curious” and that part of the album is for longtime fans. I would say the show did that as well, reminding everyone at the Hollywood Theatre what the Fruit Bats can do.
They left they stage for one of the most telegraphed encores we’ve ever seen, which would have been demanded by this crowd no matter what. They saved one of their biggest, Humbug Mountain Song, for the encore and, in more of a surprise, came back again for a second encore. Everybody left satisfied and wanting more.
Going in, I was familiar with their bigger songs, but not the whole catalogue and was quickly drawn in. Will definitely be back next time they are in town.
After a successful inaugural weekend in 2021, Day In Day Out returns for its second edition this August! Taking place at the Fisher Green Pavilion, in the heart of Seattle, this year’s festival features a wide range of acts with genres spanning across the board.
Ritt Momney was my first concert since covid hit. I had been starving for a solid night out with some kickass live music in an intimate venue. This Gen Z band of thrift shop t-shirts and pencil moustaches was just what the doctor ordered.
Set in the ever-iconic Fox Cabaret, the acoustics played out well in the venue. When it was time for Ritt Momney’s set, there were no dimming lights, and no stage changes (other than adding a few instruments). Using the same blue mood lighting and red velvet curtain backdrop as their openers, Ritt Momney and his touring band walked on stage, greeted by a mass cheer and without an introduction got to it, opening with “Paper News” from his 2019 album, Her And All of My Friends.
If you’re unfamiliar with Ritt Momney (aka Jack Rutter); he’s a Salt Lake City-based artist with a lofi-meets-indie-pop/rock sound. Ritt Momney had a major rise in popularity after his sleeper hit cover of Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” went viral on TikTok.
Ritt Momney started the night slow and chilled, silencing the crowd with soft, pull-on-your-heartstrings tunes such as “Not Around”, “Show Runner 99” and “Command V”. Everyone had their hands to their chest swaying in unison as if under a trance. That trance was broken when Jack Rutter brought on a crowd favourite “Escalator”. The intro beat started, Rutter jumped from the keys sending the audience into a frenzy.
Rutter bounced around the stage changing instruments; from piano to lead guitar and just straight vocals. He got the crowd dancing, and incorporated the two opening acts into the set; performing his single “Sometime” ft.Shane T and “Set The Table” with Hannah Jadagu. The band’s chemistry on stage was fun-loving and comfortable. Their energy was contagious, you could feel the comradery and love for performing.
With a decently bare stage set up, a relatively small crowd and the familiarity in which Jack Rutter addressed his audience, it felt like you were at a bumping house party. The energy was high and it appeared nearly every person there was a loving fan, dancing and singing along, giving their full selves to the experience of the show. Even Rutter’s stage banter about losing his bag at the skate park and breaking into private rooftops to get a better view of the mountains was told as if he was chatting right to you.
At the end of the show, Rutter apologized as there was not enough time for an encore. This didn’t seem to bother the crowd, not because one wasn’t wanted, but because they had heard everything they desired.
Ritt Momney was very open and cordial with the audience. When the set was over Jack Rutter took the time to take pictures and chat with fans. Beer in hand, Rutter stayed behind for an hour or two answering questions and shooting the shit with his admirers… me being one of them.
I had heard a few songs by Ritt Momney and wasn’t sure what to expect from him and his band in a live performance, but they blew me away. With an electric stage presence, top tier talent and respect for his fan base, Ritt Momney gives it his all. It’s not a show to be missed.
The action doesn’t stop in between the two weekends. Primavera a la Ciutat will be running from June 5th to 8th; access is included with either of the weekend passes.
There will be live acts at different venues across the city. You’ll find some of the headliners such as Jorja Smith, Interpol, Megan Thee Stallion and Phoenix listed as a part of these events, as well as some acts not featured on either weekend bill, like Disclosure and Jamie XX.
Both weekends are officially sold out, but those hoping to get on the waitlist can do so by clicking here.
The Rio Theatre was absolutely rocked on November 9th by COIN. With the absence of the opening act, Valley, who were unable to get across the border, Chase Lawrence (lead vocals/synths), Ryan Winnen (drums), Joe Memmel (lead guitar/backing vocals), and Matt Martin (bass) came out to a somewhat cool crowd, murmuring with excitement.
The first live sounds of the night came from Memmel‘s Fender Mustang for their song Chapstick, a single they released in early October. The tone of his opening riff cut like a knife through the anticipation of what the night had in store. There were no more questions at this point; we were in for a show.
As the night went on, it became more and more apparent why COIN has experienced the success they have; not only were they all incredible musicians, but they each had a distinct knack for showmanship. Whether it was Lawrence jumping on top of his keyboard mid solo or Memmel becoming a human extension of his guitar and falling to his knees at the strum of a chord, there was always something going on up there that caught your eye. The passion they have for their music was evident and contagious.
I was able to get my hands on their setlist after the show, and this was the order of the songs they played.
Before playing You Are The Traffic, the only song they performed from their most recent album, Rainbow Mixtape, Lawrence mentioned that they wrote 26 new songs in the last year. Which, under normal circumstances, would be basically impossible for a band trying to balance a touring schedule. The feat becomes even more impressive when you consider the quality of the 26 songs that they produced. But, as we all know, time can seem endless during a lockdown; something Lawrence credited as the main reason they were able to write so much.
I was slightly disappointed they didn’t play more of their new songs from their recent albums Rainbow Mixtape and Green Blue + Indigo Violet; the night was primarily focused on their album Dreamland, which they didn’t get a chance to tour in 2020 due to COVID-19. I can’t blame them; it’s a strange position for a band to release an album, then get halted from touring due to a global pandemic, sending them into a writing frenzy that resulted in two new albums in one year. The good news, there is a lot more new music that they will be performing soon.
The night ended off with their most popular song to date, Talk Too Much. Even after seventeen songs, they were able to muster up a powerful performance that had the entire building singing along with them. Lawrence ended the night by simply saying, “see you next time,” with confident assurance in his tone that was well deserved after that performance. He knew, as well as everyone else in that crowd, that we were going to be seeing him again.
The last instalment of Rifflandia took place in downtown Victoria from September 13th – 16th, 2018. In its 11th year, it has established itself as an excellent west coast mid-size festival experience. The festival grounds themselves were a manageable and excellent size. The crowds felt busy and excited, but not overwhelming. Even bathroom lines were reasonable; something not every festival can boast.
This festival took place throughout the city. Philips Brewery had stages in their backyard and the main festival grounds were at Royal Athletic Park. However, once the main acts were done for the evening, various bars and clubs throughout the downtown core continued to play Rifflandia events well into the night.
NineEightSeven took the “Tsawwassen –> Swartz Bay” ferry across on Thursday night, and pre-gamed with a BC Burger. Night One started with Adventure Club at the Phillips Backyard. We arrived and found ourselves slightly not in the mental state of the largely UVic crowd who had been partying longer. Realizing our mistake, we set out to remedy this issue and stumbled upon the biggest surprise of the festival:
Diamond Café took the stage at the Capital Ballroom, and is all we’ve been talking about since. The group is young, but the lead singer’s voice is enormous. They have an 80s sound, and a dancey, sensual vibe. The lead singer would frequently carry the room away with a note hitting a higher range or held longer than anyone expected.
NineEightSeven entered Royal Athletic Park for Blitzen Trapper at the RiffTop Tent. Royal Athletic Park had two stages: Rifftop and Main. Given the size of the festival grounds, they essentially alternate. Blitzen Trapper hails from Oregon, and they have a decidedly Pacific Northwest vibe, perfectly at home in the Victoria surrounds.
Royal Athletic Park closed the night with Daniel Caesar. His soulful voice and rarely-flashed heartbreaking smile made the crowd fall in love completely. His voice and sound brought a private show feeling to the Main Stage in Victoria.
NineEightSeven then returned to the Capital Ballroom for a completely contrasting musical experience, Fucked Up. Their sound inspired a (admittedly low key) mosh pit and let audience members release any lingering energy.
There were two acts that NineEightSeven were most amped for going into Rifflandia, and they happened to both be on Saturday (late afternoon/evening).
Before that, though, Sonreal delivered some feel-good sing-along rap. He moves like no one I’ve ever seen. Legs seemingly on springs, microphone nearly parallel to the ground, and then he’s suddenly up and back and sing rapping in a completely different part of the stage.
However, for us, the whole festival had been opening for Bishop Briggs – and she delivered. Moving around the stage like a boxer, one moment sprinting, another ready to fight. Her demon, pixie dream energy somehow directly correlated to the deep, full vocals behind banger after banger. She charged from stage left to stage right, and made us all fall in love. She took moments to address the crowd and her higher, more reserved speaking voice nearly quivered with gratitude and excitement. She belted out high energy, big vocals hits like “White Flag”, “Hallowed Ground”, and “Wild Horses”. She sheepishly apologized for her first love song, “Baby” (about Sir Sly frontman, Landon Jacobs), and warned parents in the audience of some mildly explicit lyrics. And, of course, delivered her biggest hit (so far!), “River”. We love Bishop Briggs.
In the Saturday closer, a different kind of female lead took the stage: Jessie Reyez from Toronto. She’d made cross-Canada radio waves with “Figures” in late 2017. But anyone who thought “Figures” was her whole sound would have been incredibly surprised at the R&B/rap sound she brought to stage. She angrily dismantles sexual harassment in the music industry in “Gatekeeper”; laughs at fuckbois in “Bodycount”; even more angrily yells at fuckbois in her collaboration with Eminem, “Nice Guy”; dances along to the Dua Lipa/Calvin Harris “One Kiss” that she penned; and slows down and opens up in “Apple Juice”. She spoke to the crowd frequently throughout the set, bringing us in and making it more a of a conversation than simply a collection of songs.
It’s clear that, after 11 years of running this annual event, Rifflandia has this whole festival thing down. Can’t wait for the next edition 🙂
This was the first year of Constellation Fest and NineEightSeven’s first year covering it!
Constellation took place on Hendricks Field in Squamish from July 26th – 28th. The Greater Vancouver festival market has been notably lean in 2019 as older mainstays such as Squamish Valley Music Festival and Pemberton have bitten the dust while Skookum and Rifflandia took a year off.
Constellation aimed to bring a west coast mid-size festival experience to the Pacific Northwest, and it did just that. The weekend was met with idyllic July weather (apart from a brief Friday shower). The festival grounds themselves were an excellent size. The crowds felt busy and excited, but not overwhelming. Beer, food, and bathroom lines were manageable. Similar to Rifflandia, Constellation used two alternating stages, with the main stage facing the Stawamus Chief.
Beyond the music, Constellation mixed in local vendors and artists, with several art installations evolving over the course of the festival. One paint-by-numbers zone had a large canvas and allowed everyone to get involved.
It is also worth noting that Constellation had many initiatives to go zero waste. They appeared to be partnering with waste giant, GFL, which allowed for waste-of-all-kind depositories and kept the festival grounds spick and span.
NineEightSeven’s 2019 Constellation Festival began in Vancouver Friday afternoon. By locating in Squamish, getting to the festival was relatively easy via car or festival shuttles. While camping was available off-site, NineEightSeven stayed at a nearby hotel to maximize sleep, bathrobes and water slides.
Our festival began with Canadian act, Dear Rouge performing local radio mainstays “Black to Gold”, “Live Through The Night” and others. Lead singer, Danielle McTaggart, partnered with purple smoke bombs and a black and white robe, brought NineEightSeven right into Constellation’s mode.
Following them, Edmonton band of brothers Scenic Route to Alaska took the smaller Creative BC Stage to smoke and a brief rain shower. They have a ‘Central Canada‘ guitar sound that fit right into the evening and fed into Friday headliner Serena Ryder.
She began with her biggest hit, high energy, “Stompa”. From there, through the smoke machines, she mixed in slow songs and heavier guitar and eventually caused the only rainstorm of the weekend.
After a brief pit-stop, NineEightSeven hit up the official after-party at the best nightclub on the Sea-to-Sky, The Knotty Burl. Truly having everything one might look for in a post festival experience, The Knotty Burl provided a nightly option for a sweatier dance party after a day in the grass with more relaxed music. Hot Hot Heat’s bassist, Parker Bossley, played to a packed crowd eager for the night to continue.
NineEightSeven made it in for Vancouver’s own, Peach Pit. Well, we made it in before that but got stuck at festival sponsor, Nude’s activity zone, sipping beverages and playing corn-hole. The Saturday crowd was a wide range of ages, with a surprisingly large number of kids. The family atmosphere felt at-one with a Squamish weekend while little posses of children roamed around coming up with games that only they could understand. Peach Pit came with facial hair, and a Vancouver hipster look and sound on the main stage.
Following Peach Pit, rapper (and briefly Studio Q host) Shad was on the Creative BC Stage. He mixed older classics with some newer tracks and upped the hip-hop significantly after a couple days of largely Indie Rock.
Following in the hip-hop vein was A Tribe Called Red. They began with a message, letting the crowd know that one of their members had been profiled and taken out of the festival. In response, the crowd booed and were firmly siding with A Tribe Called Red. Once the set began, some truly spectacular indigenous dancers and hoops wowed and accompanied classics such as “Electric Pow Wow Drum”.
NineEightSeven’s surprise favourite of the weekend followed, Cosmo Sheldrake. A couple of his songs have hit the mainstream in a few surprising ways, “The Moss” and “Come Along”, popping up in places such as Apple ads and the intro to The Masked Singer. He seems to mix lyrics you might associate with Dr. Seuss into a looped DJ set. His soft-spoken London accent matches his on-stage persona: perfectly: unassuming, but in full control. Fortunately, this was not the last time we saw Cosmo that evening.
In the roll of the Saturday closer, Jessie Reyez. You probably know her by now, but if not, she made cross-Canada radio waves with “Figures” in late 2017. However, only associating her music with Figures misses the R&B/rap sound of much of her other stuff. Unfortunately, Jessie hurt herself a few weeks prior and for a while Constellation looked dicey. However, she made it and began in her signature hoodie and hat. She went through classics such as “Gatekeeper”, “Apple Juice” and “Body Count” before lying down on the stage. Typically, she rips back and forth and today her movement was decidedly slower. She then said:
“You guys my back is killing me. I don’t want to stop the show, but I’ve got to sit down”.
All of a sudden, a couch appeared on stage and she lay on it and kept singing all the way through a closing “Figures”. As she likes to, she frequently brought the crowd in, telling stories of coming up performing on the street, and dealing with industry low-lifes.
However, the night was far from done as Cosmo Sheldrake was performing at The Knotty Burl. Reprising some tunes from earlier, with some new loops and mixes, he nearly didn’t play his biggest hit, “Come Along”. Fortunately, some aggressive crowd cajoling brought him back on stage to finish off Saturday at Constellation with this tune.
Sunday began slowly for NineEightSeven and the festival. Following legalization, cannabis giant Aurora sponsored a Weed Garden, enabling Aurora plastered hats to be on almost each on every head in the grounds. We checked it out before taking in songstress, Begonia. She has a big voice (think Lily Allen) perfect for larger venues and for taking in on the grass in front of the main stage.