Written by: Jake Templeman
A fuzz-filled night that left my ears ringing for about the length of three Harry Potter movie marathons.
Where: The Matador, East Vancouver
When: Saturday 23rd April 2016
Hosted by: Sleep Debt Productions
The night started with Low Levels, a three-piece post-punk band. They were the first of three Vancouver bands playing that night, with Sparkle Water travelling in from Nova Scotia. I was very impressed with the calibre of all four bands, and wouldn’t label any of them as the “headline” act. This was mirrored by the crowd for Low Levels, which was surprisingly packed for the first band of the night. Low Level’s star player was their drummer, who kept an amazingly tight beat going throughout the whole performance. The band as a whole was extremely tight as far as post-punk goes, a genre known for its messiness. The fast, punchy guitar licks rebounded off the drums in such a way that only an experienced band could achieve.
Sparkle Water played the shortest set of all the bands, lasting around 25 minutes. The three-piece from Nova Scotia had both a male and female lead vocalist. I would describe the vibe as fun, garage punk. Many of their tracks were carried by bass, featuring a shrill, screeching sound coming from the guitar. They experience a false start on one of the tunes, but were very light-hearted about this, joking that songs don’t actually get any easier the more you play them on tour. The crowd was extremely supportive, cheering them on whenever they got caught up in themselves. There was also a slight feeling of disappointment amongst the crowd when they left the stage after such a short time.
Next up was Seven Nines and Tens. A self-proclaimed “skygaze” band, the main component of their songs was reverb. I would say about 80% of their material was completely instrumental, with the occasional vocal added to the stirring pot. For the most part, the two singers used their voices to simply add to the noise, not exactly contributing anything in the way of lyrics. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact their voices added to the atmosphere being shaped by the rest of the instruments. One of my favourite things about this band’s performance was the start of the songs. Several of them had very chilling beginnings, and the best melodies were found there. The introduction to one called “Metropolis” even had the air of a My Bloody Valentine tune. Speaking of introductions, Seven Nines and Tens only stopped two or three times to chat to the crowd, mostly in the form of setting up a song before they launched into it. The rest of the set blended together, creating a uniquely immersive experience.
Last but not least, there was Little Wild. This was the band I was most excited to see, as I had actually heard their music before going to the gig. They played about a 30 minute set. Little Wild had by far the clearest vocals of the night, and were the band I’d describe as most listenable, or radio-friendly. By this I mean that their songs featured clear guitar riffs and recognizable lyrics. The lead singer’s voice even reminded me of Jack White at times. As a guitar player myself, I was very impressed with the lead guitarist. He had several solos that left me in awe, and it really added to their overall product. I also have to mention their bassist, who I felt grounded the band throughout the set. These things combined made Little Wild my favourite act of the night, and the band I have listened to most since the gig.
If you would like to listen to any of the bands from this show, they can all be found on Bandcamp. Links are available above.