Throwback: King Princess

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We all have that one friend that is quirky, cool af, and all-around badass. Add a killer voice, talented band and captivating stage presence and you have King Princess.

Performing to a sold out show at The Vogue Theatre on Thursday April 25th, 2019, King Princess treated the audience to a mix of tracks off their upcoming album and familiar classics that got the crowd bumpin’.

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We arrived to the venue as the opening act finished up, leaving just enough time to find a decent spot to stand among the excited fans. Barely time to grab a drink, the lights dimmed and the crowd goes crazy. King Princess walks out casually in a simple white tee and slacks, following her band – a guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist, the most hipster-cool band I’ve seen.  

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Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, King Princess (aka Mikaela Straus) has a soulful voice far surpassing her 20 years of age. Opening with ‘Cheap Queen’, Michaela had us all captivated right off the bat; calm, cool and collected as she playfully teases the audience with her coy smile. Shifting gears to the rock-and-roll vibes of ‘Upper West Side,’ she grabs her guitar and rocks out, crowd still singing along. A casual chat at the end of this song revealed that their second album is close to being completed. In a bold, surprising power move, they launch into the third song, a fan-fave and arguably their most loved song to date, ‘1950’. What a power move. This tune is my personal fave as well, so I was stoked they were playing it so soon. Mikaela is a quirky character, gliding across the stage with sassy little dance moves and taking a drag of her vape as she gets ready to hit the next tune.

After a new song I don’t know the name of, they come out with ‘Pussy is God’ someone in front of me proudly waves a paper sign that says “TOP ME”. Bras are waving in the air, the mood is light and everyone is having fun. Before beginning almost every song, Mikaela playfully says ‘Give it to me Mr. Antoine,” her guitarist who passionately strums away. A special guest, Banoffee (the opening act), pops out on stage midway through ‘Forget About It’. The chemistry on stage was electric and wildly fun. At one point, Mikaela reaches down to the audience, receiving a sex toy from a fan. She laughed deeply and set it down gently on stage.

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After performing ‘Talia’, they all exit the stage, but not before a guitarist grabs a film camera and snaps a pic of the crowd. Such a simple move but so damn cool, just like King Princess.

After chanting ‘encore’, stomping their feet and clapping their hands, the audience managed to coax King Princess out for a couple more tunes. The lighters come out for the second last song which brought out all the feels, followed by a sultry, rock and roll tune ‘Ohio’. The spotlight was a glowing, smoky halo around Mikaela, making the moment dramatic and sincere. With a quick wave and drag of her vape, Mikaela exits the stage. The crowd disperses slowly, letting the performance we all just watched sink it. Damn, that was a good show.

9.87/10

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Review: Kaeli Finlayson

Photos: Mikhail Din

 

Chats with Nylez K

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I never thought I’d get to enjoy the likes of Drake, Usher and Kanye West when I descended the stairs of the Biltmore Cabaret. Winner of Play Surrey Contest, Nylez K delivers when it comes to hip-hop and R&B tributes. Opening the night with Kanye West and closing with Ginuwine’s “Pony”, the Vancouver native knows how to work a nostalgic crowd. While well-versed in the classics, he holds his own performing his own tracks including “Remind Me” and “VibeTing” and kept the crowd chanting “Nylez, Nylez, Nylez” throughout the show. We were all begging for an encore at the end. I caught up with Nylez after the show:

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A: You just played two back to back shows at the Biltmore and at Surrey Canada Day. How was the Biltmore show different from Canada Day?

N: I could personalize and be more intimate with the crowd. I was more emotionally connected with the audience. This was the first time I played with a full band, except for back in the day when I used to do Bollywood songs. I never imagined I’d have my own band and do my own songs.

 

A: What was it like playing at Rifflandia?

N: I was able to bless the stage thanks to my really good friend DJ Hark. Me and him produced the song “Remind Me”. We did that track together and when he told me he got an opening for Rifflandia, I said “heck yeah we’re going to perform this song”!

 

A: What was it like going to the Much Music Video Awards?

N: Getting to experience the red carpet…it was very very special to me. After that moment, I knew that I wanted to be who I am today. I knew that I wanted to make sure music is my main thing. I never wanted to look back after that

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A: Your dad is a performer. What did he do?

N: He was mostly in the Bollywood genre and did a lot of Hindi songs. Back then, he used to do a bunch of stage performances, fundraisers, stuff like that. For him, it was always for fun

 

A: Do you have any shows coming up?

N: Not as of right now. My main focus is I want to finish off this project I’ve been working on. I’m trying to come up with an EP right now. I really want to hit the hearts of my fellow R&B and hip-hop listeners. I really want to home in on who I really am in this new EP and show, here’s what’s missing. That’s actually the title of the EP.

 

A: Last question. Bud Light Lime or Craft Beer?

N: I would say Craft Beer. If it’s from Vancouver, I’m definitely going to be drinking it.

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Watch for his EP, dropping by the end of the year.

 

Review + Photos: Ashley Yip

TANGLERS take Western USA

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They have the looks, they have the vibes; it’s no wonder this Vancouver-based group of friends are killing it in the music scene.

Established back in 2016, TANGLERS consists of 6 lifelong pals; which shows in the chemistry they have on any stage they grace. It’s tough to pin them down to one genre, but if forced to laymanize it, perhaps they’re like an “indie/surf rock/psych/grooves to make you move” kinda band.

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Currently touring Western USA in support of their newest album, “Tangled In Time,” this six piece ensemble are cruising down to Cali and back, taking over each major city in their way.

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987 was fortunate enough to catch TANGLERS‘ tour kickoff show at The Biltmore on the 12th of July. This was the second time we’ve seen them live. We liked the first, but LOVED the second. TANGLERS have proven that hard work really does pay off. Each member added a crisp element to the sounds we experienced in the sweaty basement club that night. They got the crowd moving; including myself, who usually stands at the back with a Bud Light Lime (or equivalent) sporting major RBF. The best part (or one of): the guys on stage looked like they were having as much fun as we were. It’s such a treat to see artists who truly love what they do.

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They recently released a music video for their extremely addictive hit single “Tallboy” – which perfectly captures the sounds, style, atmosphere, and vibes that is TANGLERS, check it out:

If you’re ready to get into some serious summer moods, have a listen to TANGLERS (here)

9.87/10

 

Review: Mikhail Din

Photos: Yasmin Hannah

 

Throwback: Rise and Shine (2018)

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Rise & Shine is a smaller festival that literally takes place in a backyard (albeit a large one). The intimate setting lends itself to a unique experience in a world where “the festival” has gone the way of the corporation and can tend to feel like more of a money grab than musical celebration. It also differentiates itself by taking place over one day and having 100% of their proceeds go to Rise & Shine: Captain Camps. Yes, that means that all these RAD artists are volunteering their time for a good cause: #partywithpurpose

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Our one-day (and night) began in Vancouver. After eating at one of the Vancouver brunch hot spots while waiting for one of our crew to arrive, we drove to Pemberton where Rise and Shine takes place. Pemberton sits about 30 minutes north of Whistler, in a valley that accumulates residual heat. This effect makes for painful heat later in summer, but allows for nearly perfect conditions in June. Rise and Shine was met with sun that allowed for all festival goers to tent and party all night in total comfort.

 

Camping

Upon arrival at the festival grounds, we were directed to camp virtually wherever we pleased. There are essentially two campgrounds divided by a small ditch (that one member of NineEightSeven would later have trouble navigating). Each camp is a stone’s throw away from the festival stage – leading to an atmosphere that allows any festival music to be heard and felt upon entrance to the property, at the campground, and almost anywhere onsite. One campground came complete with a secondary stage / party scene operating out of a bus (ft. a beach volleyball court). The other campground had to pause partying while a school bus, surfed by one Rise and Shiner, found its spot.

Nine Eight Seven brought disc slam to the fest. We found that there were few who weren’t keen to take a toss or two of the Frisbee when walking by our campsite. The site itself is less camping-à-festival, and more one total experience.

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Festival

The way the festival (and the acts themselves) is set-up creates a constant supply of beats to lose yourself in. We filtered in and out of the stage area over the course of the afternoon, evening, and night and each time were greeted with something dancey and different. From the more mellow afternoon WMNSTUDIES, to the vocals and drums of DiRTY RADiO, to the violin mastery of Kytami, each act progressed the night in a new way, and R&S founders/duo Average Gypsy throwing down a late set for the ages.

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As the sun set and prior to his turn, we found ourselves in line for burgers with Shadi of DiRTY RADiO. Bonded by hunger, we chatted about the venue, and our excitement for the live vocals in their act. As we parted, we promised we wouldn’t miss their set.

DiRTY RADiO delivered, uniting the entire festival with a “commanding vocal performance” (as once described by Pitchfork). But more importantly, delivering the entire festival from the last rays of sunlight into the night.

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The rest of the evening is a blur of dancing and music, and bright lights suspended in the stage-side shrubbery.

Can’t wait for this year.

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Photos: A handful of rad Rise & Shine volunteers

Review: Alex Jardine

Parcels // Fortune Sound Club

parcels2In a world so tirelessly fixated on nostalgia, it can be easy to become cynical towards the current wave of young bands borrowing sounds from the past.

This issue has been a cause for discussion in music media recently because of bands like Greta Van Fleet, who came under fire for sounding too much like their main influence, Led Zeppelin, cashing in on our fondness for familiarity without offering anything new.

parcels1Parcels focus on recycling rather than regurgitating by celebrating both past and contemporary sounds. The band are a smorgasbord of 70s funk and disco, and the kind of indie pop regularly featured on Urban Outfitters and Topman playlists. The fact they were discovered by Daft Punk and self-produced their glistening debut which was released on hip electronic music label, Kitsuné, adds a layer of authenticity to their intention as a throwback band.

Parcels performed the 10th consecutive sell-out show of their expansive 2019 world tour at Fortune Sound Club.

Sporting flashy matching jumpsuits, support act, Penthouse Boys, played a set of old school hip-hop influenced synth-pop. Their cheeky lyrics, fun personality, and energetic dad-dance breaks could be a hit for a liquored up and flirty 2am crowd. Unfortunately, in the context of this show, Penthouse Boys felt a little jarring. The performance was overshadowed by overzealous use of that siren sound and a lack of memorable tunes. Like a personal joke between a group of friends that you’ve been left out of, it was difficult to follow the punch line.

parcels13The enthusiastic crowd was already chanting “Parcels” long before the lights dimmed. The band launched straight into the first track of their debut album, Comedown,” pausing dramatically to allow the audience to release a deafening scream before the bass dropped in.

Breaks were few and far between and the set flowed almost seamlessly. This was both a blessing and a curse as their sound is so consistent that it was sometimes hard to distinguish between individual songs until they got to the hooks in the choruses.

parcels4Parcels are an extremely talented band that were exhilarating to watch live. The percussive, muted guitar plucks, pounding bass, and tight drumming led a driving rhythm that kept everyone dancing from beginning to end. The four-part harmonies were pitch-perfect and the band members switched lead vocal duties which allowed the unique qualities of each of their voices to shine through. Keyboard duo, Louie Swain and Patrick Hetherington, were the stars of the show, delivering unconventional sounds and impressive displays of talent as they frantically bashed the keys while never missing a note.

Despite their cool and artsy visual aesthetic, Parcels had a playful and charming aura. It was a pleasure to see the band truly enjoying themselves and bouncing off the positive energy in the room. Hetherington was particularly fun to watch as he looked as though he was having the time of his life.

parcels14As the band wear their influences on their sleeve, comparisons to acts like The Bee Gees and Chic, as well as tunes off Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories album are a given. But they blend the retro sounds so well and have just enough of a modern twist to feel fresh. Parcels’ live performance felt like a loving tribute and they radiated an infectious sense of joy that left me hoping that this was not just a lightning in a bottle moment.

Photos: Yasmin Hannah

Review: Adam Bouteloup

VHS Collection // Fox Cabaret

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With a wide and brimming instrumental to simmer against a typically cold Vancouver night, VHS Collection took to the stage at the East Side venue of Fox Cabaret. There was little aplomb as they dove into their first song “One”, throwing out a quick “What’s up Vancouver?” before flinging themselves wholeheartedly into the set.

Frontman James Bohannon delivered an earnest performance around the stage, with a vibrancy that was matched only by his equally enthusiastic vocals and lively melodies. With each song, lighting was timed to match the rhythm, making for a cohesive and moody show.

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Hailing from New York, VHS Collection felt like a culmination of a chilled rock band, oozing with cool millennial indifference, only to be surpassed by the energy and movement from the lead singer. The crowd lapped up every moment, the front row bleary eyed with happiness as they sung along to each song and held their hands out to grasp the moment out of the air.

James managed to overlook the phones and hands waved wildly in his face, and used the stage as his own private dance floor, while fans moved along with the building beats and melodies.

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With cool vibes and a great stage presence from the entire band, the music felt like the perfect soundtrack to be enjoyed with friends at a lake getaway.

The opening act – Whelming, provided a modern take on what singer/guitarist Erik Severinson describes as “Bohemian Rock”. There was a positivity and a freshness in the performance, making Whelming a great opener for VHS Collection.

The reverb on the vocals and careful licks of the guitar made for a well oiled performance from the Vancouver natives.

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Ending on crowd favourites, VHS Collection wrapped up a successful show with their popular songs “Waiting on the Summer” & “Ghost” from their 2016 album Stereo Hype.

A great night, filled with energy and creative music, both VHS Collection and Whelming delivered a sweet set that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Photos: Louis Lay

Review: Melissa Riemer

Dan Mangan // The Vogue

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Playing to a packed crowd at The Vogue, Dan Mangan pulled from 20 years of song writing and performing to deliver a magical night to the local friends and family who filled the theatre. The show kicked off with Lynchpinoff Dan’s latest album More or Less. However, it wasn’t long before he caught everyone off-guard with a funky mid-song transition into Road Regrets, and the crowd couldn’t help themselves but sing along.

There was a moment in the middle of the show where Dan was left on stage by himself. He first took suggestions from the crowd, presenting the option to hear Jeopardy or Leaves, Trees, Forest. He decided “to play them both”. I don’t think we can emphasize enough how involved the crowd was. At times, it felt as if Dan had invited a 1200-piece choir to the show. There was even a moment during Jeopardy where Dan asks, “What time is it?” and someone from the crowd politely yelled out “nine thirty!” (We checked, they were right). The banter even had Dan laughing, struggling to finish the song with a straight face.

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Dan took a minute during the show to promote his latest project, Side Door. The platform, developed alongside business partner Laura Simpson, is taking aim at the music industry gate-keepers, connecting musicians with performance spaces. Anyone can become a host as long as you have a space for 30-150 music enthusiasts. With over 700 artists on the platform, Dan was keen to encourage the crowd to sign up. The 987 crew is looking into it, stay tuned for our very own Side Door gig!

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Of course, the encore included the hit Robots from his 2009 album Nice, Nice, Very Nice.

The show concluded with Dan stepping down into the crowd, microphone in hand, standing on a metal chair, signing with friends and family. With the lights dimmed, Dan was illuminated by “the hammer” (a mic boom wrapped in LED strip lights) while the band, horns, and La Force played not for the crowd – but with the crowd.

Overall, a fantastic night that reminded the whole crew at 987 why we love supporting our hometown heroes.

Thanks Dan.

Photos: Mikhail Din

Review: Graham Russell

Throwback: SKOOKUM 2018

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Sometimes it takes a couple months to digest and meditate on what you saw.

This was the first year of Skookum Fest and Nine Eight Seven was stoked to cover it!

Skookum took place in Stanley Park from September 7th – 9th. It aimed to bring the larger festival vibes, that Pacific North-Westerners experienced at Squamish, Pemberton and Sasquatch (sort-of), to Vancouver.

Musical acts ranged from newer and more local acts to the well-established festival headliners, Florence + The Machine and The Killers.

While we may have had to bust out our Arc’teryx, the rain certainly didn’t detract from any of the performances. It also allowed the red Virgin Mobile ponchos to take centre stage as the look-du-Skookum.

 

Day One

Nine Eight Seven’s 2018 Skookum Festival began at Cactus Club – Coal Harbour, reviewing the set list and debating the must-see acts over bellinis, before making the long walk into the festival grounds.

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The acts of day one served as a perfect intro to the weekend. Nine Eight Seven made it in just in time for frequent Vancouver visitors, Dear Rouge, to perform “Black to Gold” on the Mountain Stage. From there, the late summer light faded into Black Pistol Fire, followed by the synth-pop party of Chromeo. Nine Eight Seven took in Chromeo’s set from high up on the Vype Tent’s upper deck. This vantage point, Mountain stage right, provided excellent viewing opportunities and short beer lines all festival long (and free water bottles!). Chromeo’s stage presence was electric and allowed the festival to party.

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Arkells were the day one headliner. Their Canadian alt-rock sounds led a festival wide sing-along. Nine Eight Seven was looking for the people’s champ the whole walk back to the city.

 

Day Two

Day two began wet. At times the weather allowed jubilant dancing, and at times forced the crowds to gather under awnings and in the far-too-small hallways of the Brockton Oval field facilities.

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Nonetheless, the musical acts played on. We began at local favourites, Said the Whale, on the Mountain Stage. Having just dropped their new single, “UnAmerican”, the crowd was amped and their indie-rock stylings felt perfectly at one with the (at best) overcast Vancouver afternoon.

From there, Rodrigo y Gabriela lit up the Skyline Stage with acoustic harmony. As they covered Rage Against the Machine, a quick burst of audience laughter was followed with enthusiastic backing vocals.

St. Vincent followed. Her voice, her set, and her stage choreography conveyed the exact curated weirdness that speaks to so many Vancouver-dwelling festival attendees.

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Metric did not disappoint with their energetic set on the Mountain Stage, followed by Hey Ocean on the Forest Stage. We danced and sang along with both these long-time Canadian indie-rock staples. Female leads may have been the theme of Day Two, including the night’s headliner, Florence + The Machine.

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Florence appeared ethereally, clad in flowing white. Throughout her set, she ran all over the stage, moved into the crowd, and delivered powerful song after song after song. As a festival set, she mainly played her greatest hits, uniting the crowd. When she spoke, she was quiet and plaintive. When she sang, she boomed and captivated.

As day two of the festival wrapped following her encore of “Shake it Out”, we all spilled out on to the seawall, dream-like.

 

Day Three

Three days is a lot. I woke up groggy and apprehensive to again dance in a rain jacket. But Skookum delivered, again.

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After, perhaps, having one too many pre-drinks at Nine Eight Seven HQ, we found that perhaps every taxi in the city was already en-route to the grounds. Nonetheless, we made it in (barely) for Mother Mother playing “Wrecking Ball”.

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Father John Misty then took the Skyline Stage. His occasionally sleepy, and always meditative presence was the perfect afternoon tonic, slowly ramping me up (and maybe the rest of the crowd). Thematically, perhaps, Bahamas then played, allowing the day three festival crowd some low-key world-class music.

Then…the final act:

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I liked The Killers before. I loved The Killers after. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more complete show. From firing the confetti cannons, to sing along after sing along, including (but not limited to) “Spaceman”, “Mr. Brightside“, and “All These Things That I’ve Done”, the crowd was all the way in it. Brandon Flowers had a lot to do with that. He is as much showman as he is musician, conducting the crowd with ease, merrily directing us to have the best night of the festival. The Killers capped Skookum, leaving us energized with ringing ears, hoarse voices, and a bit of sadness as we wait for next year.

9.87/10

 

Review: Alex Jardine

Photo: Yasmin Hannah

Still Woozy

Still Woozy performed a sold out show at the Biltmore last Friday and it was super good.

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Still Woozy (aka Sven Gambsky) hails from Oakland Cali, and makes jazzy, dreamy pop, apparently entirely on his laptop in his garage.

He’s thought to be a part of the “bedroom pop” movement aka DIY music (self-composed, produced, released, etc).

Gambsky started Still Woozy just over a year ago, and hasn’t yet released an album or EP, just 7 singles as well as 2 music videos which are…pretty funny to watch. Really cool track art though. 

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His first ever show as Still Woozy was around a year ago, which makes it that much crazier how he’s been able to sell out most of his hefty North American Tour, and land a slot at Coachella this year.

It all makes sense if you listen to his music. It’s unique, globally appreciated, and catchy af.

About the show itself: Still Woozy is technically just composed of one man, although on Friday he was accompanied by two band mates who played the drums and guitar. They danced A LOT and got the crowd amped while Gabsky mainly stuck to singing, guitar, and his Macbook.

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He and his pals were pretty entertaining to watch. Having a good time just dancing and belting it out. Considering their “bedroom pop” categorization, it was surprisingly more “real” than I was expecting. Not just Sven and his laptop. All the jams sounded pretty similar: dreamy, funky and very chill…and it was damn good! The show was short but sweet.  Pretty much his 7 songs on Spotify, shuffled, plus a couple unreleased tracks he graced us with.

Have a listen. He’s on the up for sure. Absolutely deservedly.

Photos: Michaela D-W

The Dirty Nil // Dead Soft // Eamon McGrath

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November 3rd, the Biltmore Cabaret had the pleasure of turning the noise levels up to the Master Volume for the first time with Ontario rockers, The Dirty Nil. Hot off the press, the new album delivers uncompromising energy, huge riffs, and sing-along choruses that were clearly designed for a live setting.

The first songs I caught by opening act, Eamon McGrath, were rooted in folk and country rock. All smooth lap guitars and gravelly crooning, hometowns and heartbreak. The performance took an unexpected turn with a feedback-laden noise section. This led into intriguing heavier cuts that explored more unusual sonic textures and intricate instrumentation.

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McGrath ended his set with a fast rock ‘n’ roll number that contrasted the heartfelt, melancholic tracks. Although the country vibe wasn’t to my personal taste, tracks like “Cold Alberta Nights” got two thumbs up and a Spotify ‘Save’ from my Albertan roommate.

The crowd was fairly sparse for the beginning of Dead Soft, which was a damn shame, because first tune, “Phase,” is a total banger. The band blend some of the best 90s and 00s alternative rock sounds to create a delicious smoothie of melodic, grunge-tinged pop-punk. The result is reminiscent of Weezer and Canadian heroes, Pure, with a touch of Archers of Loaf during their more intimate moments.

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Set highlights included the gloomy, “I’m Afraid,” and head-banging, Bones” from 2018 EP New Emotion, as well as the staccato rager, “Death is at My Door” from the self-titled album.

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While lead singer, Nathaniel Epp’s, softer vocals were occasionally lost in the mix, the clean melodies really cut through when backed-up harmonies from guitarist Kyle Schick and bass player Keeley Rochon. And he sounded punishing when pushing his vocal cords raw.

The Dirty Nil bounded onstage to Darude’s club anthem, “Sandstorm”. This may seem like an odd choice for a punk rock show, but it perfectly encapsulated the good-natured fun and excess of their live performance.

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The crowd began singing at the beginning of the set for “That’s What Heaven Feels Like,” and continued right the way through “Bathed In Light” and “Pain Of Infinity”. The fact so many audience members knew all the words to the three tracks that introduce Master Volume is a testament to the album’s memorability. Especially when you consider that it only came out last month.

With tongues placed firmly in cheeks, The Dirty Nil embraced all the cheese and flair of classic rock. From guitarist and lead vocalist, Luke Bentham’s, star-spangled shirts and bubble gum-blowing bravado, to the floor-sprawling guitar solos, and cliché, cocky stage banter. This could come across as cringe-inducing coming from anyone else, but The Dirty Nil radiate enough charm to somehow pull it off.

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Bassist, Ross Millar, was a particularly curious presence as he karate-kicked, fist-pumped, and made outrageous bass-faces throughout the performance.

The set featured a nod to the older fans with “Cinnamon” from the demo compilation, Minimum RnB, as well as “No Weaknesses” and “Know Your Rodent” from 2016’s Higher Power.

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But it was Master Volume that truly stole the show. The band slowed down the pace to a waltz for “Auf Wiedersehen,” an alluring drawler that builds towards a heavy crescendo for which Bentham turned the mic to the crowd for impassioned shouts of “FUCK YOU!” during the climax. They even pulled a shredding punk cover of Metallica’s “Hit the Lights” out the bag which elicited a predictably hectic response. Of course, before the mayhem ensued, Millar took to the mic to do his best James Hetfield “YEAH” impression.

The Dirty Nil seem destined for bigger things and larger stages. And while these accolades are probably well-deserved, the promise of success is almost bitter-sweet when their sweat-box performances feel this good.

Review: Adam Bouteloup

Photos: Yasmin Hannah