PEAK Performance Project Showcase, Night 4 @ The Red Room, Vancouver, Sept. 29, 2011

Bright lights, glow sticks, Behind Sapphire.

And then there were two.

As of last Thursday at 8pm, only two PEAK Performance Project showcases remained.  Up to this point, 12 bands had performed their hearts and souls off on the Red Room’s stage in downtown Vancouver over the past 3 weeks.  This particular night, however, was argued to be the most stacked line-up for a showcase to date, as The Matinee, Redgy Blackout, Behind Sapphire, and Treelines all displayed why they deserved to be in this year’s project.

The Matinee were first to take the stage.  This simple fact was a direct indication as to how strong of a showcase this evening was going to be.  I saw the Matinee perform in the Shore 104FM Song Search contest earlier this summer, and was a little shocked they didn’t win the top prize in that contest.

Needless to say, on this night, they didn’t fail to impress; in fact, they’ve improved!  It may have been the atmosphere, the sweaty crowd or the beers, but something about their performance was that much better than the first time I saw them.  Lead singer Matt Layzell was on fire as a frontman, as usual.  The other founder of the band, Matt Rose, was absolutely deadly on his Gretsch hollow-body and acoustic guitars, slaying the audience with riffs and rhythms that would make Edgar Winter blush.  The rest of the rhythm and keys were tight and carrying the alt-country/roots/rock vibe right through their 45 minute set.  To close out their set, there was a guitar fatality in the colour of blue-stained maple: Matt Rose destroyed an acoustic guitar and I shed a tear, but enjoyed the dramatic climax to their set, all the same.

Following the Matinee’s smokin’ set was the quartet of Redgy Blackout.  As far as my knowledge goes of this band’s material, I really only know their hit tune Bottom of the Sea which is a pretty killer track.  Prior to them whipping that one out, the boys from Redgy Blackout had a few tantalizing tricks up their sleeve.  Their best trick was boldly covering Arcade Fire‘s Wake Up. I don’t know if I’ve heard a cover as of yet in the showcases, but this one was pretty well done as a four-piece.  Another trick was to toss just about every other PPP musician who was at the showcase that night on stage with them to sing the outro to their Vancouver 125 tune.  Group effort for the win!

Once the Blackouts were through, it was time for the always-strange-and-equally-delightful Behind Sapphire.  The band ventured onto the stage one at a time, wearing masks they no doubt purchased when they were touring China during the past month.  It was truly quite odd and a little creepy.  Fortunately, they removed their masks after their mainstay opener Oh My What A Fine Day and laid down a pretty decent set.  UNfortunately, from where I was standing, it seemed the sound was a poorly mixed.  I’m not positive if it actually was the sound mix or maybe just a different type of performance from Behind Sapphire than what I’ve seen numerous times in the past.  I missed a few aspects of their usual live show, such as Matthew’s semi hollow-body’s tone and a little more acoustic guitar.  I know this was their big showcase set but I felt that they were trying maybe a little too hard and were lacking the innocent, happy-go-lucky appeal that had me fall in love with them 6 months ago.  

Or maybe it was just the glowsticks and glitter…

The final band of the evening was likely the most anticipated act of the night, and possibly the showcase series thus far – Treelines.  With a rather large following of fans—a large percentage of them being of the female variety—it’s no doubt that Treelines are a fan favourite to win this project.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), the winner of the PEAK Performance Project isn’t chosen strictly based on fan choice.  Fans do get to vote on their favourite band to win, but the vote only accounts for a portion of the judges’ final decision.

That all being said, Treelines are a seasoned group who’ve played a lot of shows and teased many a crowd.  Quite simply, they’ve been around the block.  They are a fusion of Against Me, Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters, which puts them in a pretty good position, competitively, and musically speaking.  I am indeed a fan of their work and they always put on a good show, as they did on this evening.  Full of energy, catchy riffs and high kicks a-plenty, the boys from Treelines didn’t disappoint their fans who’d been waiting for three and-a-half hours to see them.  They played their hits like Ghost Towns, When I Get Grown, and Young Man and proved why they deserve to be in this contest.

My only minor critique for their performance would be the lack of creating “moments” for the crowd.  I know this isn’t an integral part of being a solid rock act (or maybe it is..), but most of the other artists I’ve seen perform at these showcases have really done a great job in wooing and dazzling the crowds in some unexpected aspect.  Perhaps it may feel a little gimmicky, but if it’s something that the judges of this contest are looking for, you should toss in a “moment” or two for them, at the very least.  Your fans may even like you all the more for it.

Either way, a great set from MattLock and the boys of Treelines!  And with that great set, another fantastic night of music was done.  Until next Thursday at the Red Room for the final PEAK Performance Project showcase of the year, featuring Lindsay Bryan, Maurice, 41st and Home, and Rococode!

-Dylan

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~ by whet_hopped on October 6, 2011.

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