My Friday night at Canadian Music Week was one for club-hopping. It started out at the always-lovely Burdock, where I caught an early and incredibly intimate set from Merival. I reviewed Merival‘s latest release, Lovers EP, and called it “absolutely devastating” – and that’s an apt description for her set last night. From her fingerpicked guitar to her melodic, hushed-yet-powerful voice, she had the audience enraptured with every note. The only ‘criticism’ I have of her set is that she should absolutely, 100% record the unreleased songs that she played last night. They were incredible.
I stuck around at Burdock to check out a set from East Coast synth band Alana Yorke, which is actually Alana Yorke (keys/vocals) and her husband Ian Bent (keys/synths/backing vocals). They have a very much 80s-influenced brand of dreamy synth-pop, punctured with delicate piano and ethereal vocals. An interesting component of their set was the backstory behind their song, “Wichita Years” – a song that was inspired by a 1950s collection of home movies of a family she didn’t know, posted by a Wichita man on archive.org. Check out the Globe and Mail piece on it, or watch this video from a Wichita news outlet, if you’re interested in the power of nostalgia and memory.
The next stop on my list was a quick jaunt over to Velvet Underground to one of CMW’s most anticipated sets: a showcase from Vancouver’s White Lung, a hardcore punk band that was celebrating the release of Paradise earlier that day. White Lung is fronted by what can only be described as an ticking bomb of a frontwoman, Mish Way. She thrashes, she headbangs, she dances, she growls and she sings her goddamn heart out. The set, peppered with new tracks and old favourites alike (like “Face Down”) was a blistering experience in just how visceral hardcore punk can be, even as the band integrates more clean singing. White Lung is an experience, and if you weren’t at the Velvet Underground last night watching White Lung play so hard that they broke their kick drum (briefly), then you missed out big time.
After recovering (just slightly) from the aural onslaught of the last set, I headed over to the Bovine for The Beaches. A band that seemingly gets better and tighter every time I’ve seen them, The Beaches put on a hell of a show last night. They play a very shiny and glossy brand of indie rock, think a combination of Metric, The White Stripes and The Strokes. The songs are loud, melodic, and the guitars are crunchy. The band played a big chunk of new material, and judging by the reaction of the (pretty significant) crowd, they’ve got another hit on their hands for their next record.
And my final stop of the night was at the Rivoli, for a set by Peregrine Falls at the Music BC showcase. Peregrine Falls is a duo from Vancouver that’s made up of two musicians, Gordon Grdina (guitar) and Kenton Loewen (drums) – names you might recognize as members of Dan Mangan and Blacksmith. In Peregrine Falls, the musicians get to explore their more experimental and improvisational tendencies, creating what’s been described as ‘mathy sludge’. The band has only released one EP called Two Fish, which was in 2014, but watching this set made me want more. Within the first five minutes, Grdina took out a bow and looked like he was hacking his guitar open, creating walls of screeching noise that were expertly accompanied by thrashing and booming drums from Loewen. According to the band’s Facebook, however, they’re putting the finishing touches on their debut record, so I might not be waiting too long.