The PEAK Performance Project Showcase, Night #1 @ The Red Room, Vancouver, Sept. 8, 2011

It’s September, and aside from the “back to school” blues, there’s a lot to look forward to this month, as well as the few months to follow.  You see, one of the largest radio talent search contests in the country is going on right now in BC, and it’s called the PEAK Performance Project, brought to you by 100.5 the PEAK and Music BC.  The winner of the competition receives $100,500, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Nick and Dave of the Never Surprise

The first of five showcases was this past Thursday at the Red Room in Vancouver, and it was a fantastic kick-off to what’s sure to be a stiff but entertaining competition.  The night began with the subtle, folk-rock dears, the Never Surprise.  As I’ve yet to really listen to much of their music,  I wasn’t certain what to expect.  I have to give them supreme props, though, as they were the very first band to kick-off this showcase portion of the project that’s chalked full of major talent. That has to be an unnerving position to be in.

Although they began a little soft, the Never Surprise turned it up a notch a few songs in and got our group’s full attention.  They kept the upbeat, rockin’ trend right through to their Vancouver 125 song*, which finished off their set.  My only critique of their set is that there may have been a few more “softer” tunes than I’d personally prefer, particularly at a showcase performance.  I know that their sound and style tends to the mellower folk, but I was hoping for a little more energy out of the gate. Either way, a solid performance once the feet began tapping, and not much turning back. Well done!

Hilary Grist with her minor horn section

Next up was the smooth and sultry Hilary Grist, who hails from Maple Ridge.  She opened with a tune that had some glimmering keys and haunting melodies and caught my attention from way in the back of the Red Room.  The great thing with Hilary’s act was that it just got better and better.  As she’s often behind her keyboard, it was great to see Hilary not only stepping out from behind it but really putting on a show for the packed house at the Red Room.  She serenaded the crowd as she did her best to get everyone in the crowd dancing and clapping, which is key to becoming a strong performer.

Musically, I overheard comparisons to Feist, which is of the utmost compliment.  Her band was tight as her guitarist played a beautiful Gretsch and smoked an amazing guitar solo that suited Hilary’s music to a tee, while the rest of the rhythm carried solid tempo.  Hilary even got a few minors into the club, dressed them up in fancy duds and got them out on stage for a couple of tunes as her horn section. And I’m not talking 16 year-old minors—these kids were barely 10, if that.  Award for cutest performance of the evening, for sure.

Jasper doing his thang, and doing it well

Following a great act isn’t always a fun task, but a crowd favourite like Jasper Sloan Yip made it look pretty damn easy.  When Jasper took to the stage, the dancefloor was inundated.  And let me tell you, this kid can play guitar.  Oh – he can sing, too.  He and his barefooted band played some groovy tunes that swayed from high tempo folk pop to quiet hymns and everywhere in between.  While he could barely keep his glasses from falling off, JSY was definitely able to keep everyone’s attention and rocked his set with swagger and mostly an acoustic guitar, but played an electric for a few songs. A few more tunes with the electric would’ve been great, but maybe that’s just me..

Lastly, but far from least was the Belle Game.  I think “belle” is french for the feminine form of beauty. If that’s the case, the “beautiful game” is just that: a beautiful, female-led musical game of intertwined instrumentation and harmonious celebration.  Listening to the Belle Game is a beautiful thing indeed, but watching them perform commands a level of respect for this young 7-piece band.  They appear mature beyond their years in terms of performing and play their music at a level of tightness that is not often seen by such a young group of people.  I think they may have learned a thing or two at PEAK Boot Camp.

A beautiful thing, the Belle Game is.

They played a solid set, as I’ve mentioned, and dazzled the crowd with their latest Sleep To Grow, older hit Shoulders and Turns and their Vancouver 125 song, Your Offer.  Andrew Lee smoked on the horns, Alex Andrew and Adam Nanji killed on guitars, Katrina Jones rocked backing vocals and keys, Ian Cook and Rob Chursinoff pounded the melodic and percussive rhythm on bass and drums, respectiely, and Andrea Lo quite simply blew the collective audience’s mind into bits on lead vocal duties.  I know it’s a little too early to say, but based on their performance, the Belle Game may be one of the bands to beat in this competition.  A job well done.

That’s how the PEAK Performance Project Showcase Night #1 went. For those who missed it, be sure to catch the next showcases at the Red Room every Thursday night at 8pm until October 3rd. $12 gets you in the door but don’t come too late as you will wait in line.

Check out the PPP Showcase Night #1 band pages:

The Belle Game:

Jasper Sloan Yip:

Hilary Grist:

The Never Surprise: 



~ by DR on September 11, 2011.

3 Responses to “The PEAK Performance Project Showcase, Night #1 @ The Red Room, Vancouver, Sept. 8, 2011”

  1. Great review~
    I am sure that we were standing next to each other for most of this entire show and didn’t even realize. My photos are from the same spots!
    Next showcase we’ll definitely hang out – Can’t wait!
    So much amazing talent in this city 🙂

    • Thanks Jess!

      I will be at—hopefully— two more showcases, so I hope to see you there and I’ll say “hi” now that I know what you look like (Vanessa’s Facebook photo). Until then, take care 🙂


  2. Hey, this is Melissa from Cordova Bay Records – Acres of Lions are signed to our label. Just updating our blog contacts and wondered if you would like to be on our list when we send out new music/press releases/etc. Send me an email! Thanks!

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