Thursday, 14 March 2013

First You Get The Sugar + Elephant Stone at Divan Orange

First You Get The Sugar + Elephant Stone at Divan Orange


Divan Orange is a smaller, but still rather spacious venue in the plateau on St. Laurent, and it has a very rustic and DIY aesthetic. The walls are painted a dark red, the floor is wood, and the ceiling is bare and unfinished as to show exposed heating vents and gas pipes. The stage is about three feet off the floor and is illuminated by sparse stage lights, and the back wall of the stage itself appears to be but a mere bed sheet. It feels very much like a warehouse or some other kind of space that was not supposed to be a venue but became one just for the bands that were performing that day. 

On the evening of February 15th I stepped into the venue, and within moments I could tell that something truly great was about to happen. There were a ton of people for this particular show, enough that the number of bodies in the venue made it feel like a sauna in that way that densely-packed spaces do. A feeling of anticipation filled the air; everyone else knew what I knew when I walked into the building. Then the bands started playing.

First You Get The Sugar entered the stage. They are a four piece, with a drummer, two guitarists and a bassist. The bassist and guitarists all share vocal duties more or less equally, and they frequently switch instruments throughout their performance. Their set was that of some intense genre-bending, as they would switch styles from song to song and even from riff to riff. The styles ranged from 50s rockabilly to surf to modern indie and beyond. There were even some parts where one guitarist would play a particular style while the other guitarist played a different one, much like how a DJ mashes two songs together with turntables. I could, however, detect a strong Beatles influence among the vocalists, which made for a very interesting mix when applied to the music they were playing. I was definitely nodding my head and moving to the music while they performed, and I highly recommend that you go see them.

Then came Elephant Stone...

Elephant Stone’s set began with a sampled tampura drone as the stage’s backdrop, with the aid of a projector, shifted from the plain white to their new album‘s cover art. Within moments the band entered the stage and revealed itself as a four piece; synthesizers, bass, guitar, drums, and sitar were the instruments of choice for this evening. Rishi Dhir started the set with some sitar wizardry and soon the rest of the band came in with full force. He would go on to switch between bass guitar and sitar for the rest of the set. 

This band was as loud as hell. I could detect a heavy My Bloody Valentine influence in the music as well as a sizeable dose of merseybeat, but these guys went far above those influences and claimed their own niche in the psychedelic shoegazer sound. There were droning synthesizers all across the sonic spectrum along with some seriously reverbed-out guitars.

There was epic, but never excessive, amounts of delay on all of the instruments. The band’ music was vast and inviting much like a warm blanket in the morning, however their expertly crafted pop melodies and hooks were never lost in the hypnotic layers of sound. Interspersed between hooks were some really tasty jams where the synthesizers truly shined, as Stephen Venkatarangam skilfully twiddled synth knobs to shift timbres and create an ever-evolving layer above the rest of the band. There was this one part of their set where Stephen appeared to take feedback from the microphones, run it through a tremolo effect, and then proceeded to apply a filter effect to that effect in time with the rest of the music - very inventive and really cool sounding!

The crowd was very much into this experiment in music; I saw a few people absolutely go berzerk on the dance floor during these jams. By the time they were finished, I found myself wanting more of that experience which I had undergone. Elephant Stone are an excellent and very innovative band that you absolutely must see before they become huge.

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