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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

besnard lakes august 2013


 The Besnard Lakes + Hôtel Morphée  |  An Osheaga Pre-Party

HANDCRAFTED SUBTLETIES  |  MARY NIVEN
PHOTO  |  SF CRITIC

Entrée en jeu:

Why can’t headliners play first, and who decided that they have to play last?

I don’t get it, maybe I am merely a simpleton, destined to toil away my life as an indentured servant for the Man.

However, when you arrive at the show you are obviously, understandably, and notably pumped to see the band for which you purchased the tickets. But no, you have to wait through one, maybe two other bands that can range from just really bad, to heartbreakingly mediocre, to the phenomenal rarity (if the universe happenstances to be on your side).

The music that they were playing for this show between sound-checks and what not was a Lady Gaga type playing radio station. Ugh, why? You know, the ones that are all too often boisterously blaring away just about anywhere you go in public spaces; shopping stores, hospital waiting rooms, hardware stores, you name it. Shamefully, ubiquitously spreading their influence like a disease, the nasty, festering kind for which the human race has not yet found a cure (so they say).

I know, maybe you are thinking that is a little harsh. Well, harsh for me is that these people earn astronomical amounts of money that are unfathomable to a normal person while, at the very least, homelessness and hunger persistently perpetuate. And yes, these things can be reversed if more people would be empathetic and not selfish (teetering on sociopathic). We can supposedly put men on the moon, recently sent a Canadian into outer space (work related), and sent Guy Laliberté into outer space (for tourism), but we can’t take care of the homeless? I don’t buy it.   

Ok, what do you have to say for yourself devil’s advocate?

But, they’re artists and work hard to ‘earn’ that money. If not, how will Beyoncé afford to drink only out of titanium straws (15,000.00$ apiece supposedly) and refuse to use any toilet paper other than that which is the color red?

Seriously, how can anyone even pretend at that point to be a viable artist/musician? (Dear Jay-Z, Tupac is rolling in his grave)

Call me naïve, but music is about empathy, love, soulfulness, being a vehicle for revolutionary ideas aimed at the betterment of humanity/society, and on and on. There is almost nothing more irritating (like a bad rash or an s.t.d., if that is how you roll) than to be held captive with Orwellian nightmarish, commercialist, capitalist, soulless, generic music playing. And the lyrics can be so lamentably lame; the profundity of the depth to which they can strikingly sink and stagnate never ceases to amaze me!

But, all of that aside, if you happen to be a responsible citizen and get to the show when the doors open, you’ve thus far been standing and drinking for a couple of bands. And just because they are openers does not necessarily mean that they play shorter sets.

So, by the time the headliners surface and play, you’re tired, cranky, peeing a lot more than usual due to the beers, and are just plain ready to be done. Then you find yourself in the unfortunate, uncomfortable, ambiguous conundrum of wanting to go, but at the same time not wanting to NOT see your band until the very end, including encores.

My sincerest apologies,

I digress (revenons à nos moutons)!

The Corona Theatre, which on their website is deplorably referred to as the Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre, sniff, sniff…, is a rad building in and of itself (and please, don’t feed me that bullshit-bile where in Virgin is only economically viable when they are able to brand this historically artistic theatre).

I wish more concert venues were held in old theatres that date back to the early 1900’s, as they usually have so much more character than the modern, built to made venues.

An exception to the rule is the Douglas Fir in Portland, OR: such a swanky place, equipped with bonfires outside, an onsite motel where you can spend the night if you so desire and where your balcony gives directly onto the bonfires. With in, lounge rules the day and you find 60’s style fire places scattered around, among other things.

Regrettably, the acoustics at the Corona Theatre fared poorly (I’ve seen other shows there with the same dubious sound quality, the Girls among others). For the first band, Valleys, Dusted, I felt as if I were going to have a bass heart attack. I have no idea what the sound engineer was thinking, but it distorted every aspect of their sound. I can’t even review a band with sound quality issues to that degree. They are a two-piece, which, in my opinion, always takes balls to undertake, having the guy on guitar and vocals, and the girl on vocals, synths, drum machine, etc.

The second band, Hôtel Morphée, is a five piece with the only girl in the band on vocals, a tiny bit of violin, and somewhat more guitar. They have a keyboard/miked violin player, two guitars, a drummer, and a bass. Happily, they had their shit together, were tight, commanded the stage, and had a much better acoustic quality than the first band. However, once again, there was that annoyingly squeaky, piercing guitar monitor hiss feedback present too many times. The violins were pretty much non-existent, as well as any vocals except for the lead singer’s, and other such sound inconsistencies.  

Now, finally, I can see the summit, we are almost there, don’t give up!

As I reach the top, with no further ado, I present to you:

The Besnard Lakes! ladies and gentlemen (insert whistling, clapping, and cheering).

As soon as they took the stage and started creating their musical soundscape, I was immediately taken back to the Sonic Youth show that I saw at the New Daisy Theatre in Memphis, I think it was on their Washing Machine tour (The Besnard Lakes have the same number of members as Sonic Youth, pretty much the same instrumentation, the same male to woman ratio and I swear, Jace Lasek looks uncannily similar to Thurston Moore and the same goes for Olga Goreas (bass player) and Kim Gordon (bass player), at least from far away).

What a great memory to have been taken back to. I love how music can transcend space and time, instantaneously transporting you far away in your memories in the flash of a second. Anyway, that was the first time I had ever experienced such an intricately layered wall of musical sound before in my life. It made a huge impression on me, and still does for that matter.

Thus in the same vain, The Besnard Lakes were elaborately weaving a tapestry of sound made up of the fabrics of vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and the like. The ebb and flow of the music was seamless, effortless, and natural, like they had been standing there doing what they do infinitely, like an image out of a Borges short story or Alice in Wonder Land.

I can most definitely see how they have been asked to do music for film. They have the ability to create a musical setting all of their own: not invasive, with the appropriate balance of self-awareness and control. And live, they have a strong communicative presence. They were most decidedly captains of their own ship: there is a good wind, the sales are out, and they are purposefully advancing, right where they need to be.

I would also like to point out that the show was only 5.00$, what a total steal! Their acoustics were by far the best of the night, but there was still too much of that high pitched, piercing guitar feedback in the monitor. Also, they had a guest vibraphone player that I could barely pick out, dommage!

In conclusion, if you are into musical sound-scapes heavy on interacting layers comprised of delicately chosen interplay between electric guitars, bass, vocals, etc., I decidedly recommend The Besnard Lakes live.

And, like a dust ball rolling past you in a dry, deserted land as if out of a Steinbeck novel, or a flower petal sliding down a sentient stream, or a fleeting cloud, languidly hovering above in the sky like the trace of a memory that once was, I walked out of the theatre…


(bèmol : watch out for the compromised acoustic quality at the Corona Theatre)




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