PEAK Performance Project Showcase #1 @ Red Room, Vancouver; Sept. 13, 2012
There’s a nip in the air, the leaves are dying, pumpkins are turning orange… yep, it’s that time of year again: every Thursday night for 5 weeks you can hear swells of music resonating from the Red Room in Vancouver. Not just any music either, it’s music from the Top 20 in the PEAK Performance Project showcase series!
This past Thursday saw the first of five showcase series from BC’s biggest music project, showcasing some of BC’s biggest and brightest unsigned artists. This first evening at the Red Room saw Ali Milner, Beekeeper, Redgy Blackout, and Jordan Klassen all perform their guts out to a near-capacity crowd.
Ali Milner was up first and kicked off her set with some funky, danceable keyboard-infused jams that filled the dancefloor in very short time. Milner’s voice sparkled throughout her set as the rest of her 4 piece-band sounded tight and fresh, adding the perfect musical backdrop to Milner’s pop-rock, shimmering tunes. Personally, the highlight of Ali’s set had to be her hauntingly beautiful cover of Neil Young‘s After the Goldrush. Her rendition of the 1970 Canadian classic had the Red Room likely at its quietest moment of the entire evening, a rare and impressive feat.
[Side note: This year, as part of the PPP 2012, the Top 20 bands had to perform a cover of a Canadian band or artist during their showcase set]
Next up were one of my personal faves—but don’t tell them!—Beekeeper.
They’re possibly the most intriguing band of the entire PPP this year, and maybe even in the entire PPP history. That statement may seem a little lofty, but if you were at the Red Room on Thursday, you just might agree. The 3-piece absolutely killed their set from beginning to end. Prior to coming on stage, the house and stage lights all went out, green lasers started shooting out into the crowd as a back-lit ‘BEEKEEPER’ sign glowed, and a recorded, robotic, female voice warned us that Beekeeper were about to come at us.
A wonderful build up to what was a solid set that featured the fun-loving Devon Lougheed singing his strange tunes with enviable enthusiasm (Pets Eat Their Masters, Sudden Cuckoo) and playing some splendid guitar leads. The other two thirds of Beekeeper saw Luke Cyca on drums and backing vocals keeping excellent time along with Brandi Sidoryk (of Sidney York) carrying the back-end wonderfully on bass and operatic backup vocals. In fact, Brandi led the group for their Canadian cover of Alanis Morissette‘s You Learn and did a lovely job. Seriously! Felt like I was 13 again.
For their last tune, Beekeeper invited the crowd to join them on stage for a group photo and kept the crowd on stage for their final tune. It was a dazzling time and one of the best sets I’ve experienced in my 2 years of covering PPP shows.
Redgy Blackout had a tough act to follow, but they were up to the task. After being through the whole project last year, this was no new territory for them, and boy have they polished up. Scott Perrie and Jeremy Breaks—founders of Redgy Blackout—have honed their sound and taken their musicianship and songwriting to the next level, all of which being quite evident during their showcase set. Breaks has become quite the lead guitarist in both precision and personality, not shying away from centre stage to showcase his immense talent while Perrie has become a noticeably confident frontman, playing everything from electric and acoustic guitar to trumpet to keys, all the while keeping his vocals solid.
Last year for their PPP showcase, Redgy Blackout covered Arcade Fire’s Wake Up and did a stellar job of it! This year, they went back to the same formula covering Arcade Fire yet again, but this time spicing it up with the anthemic Rebellion (Lies), masterfully replacing the violin melodies with trumpet lines. (These Canadian cover songs were icing on the musical cake for each act, let me tell you.)
Lastly but never the least, Jordan Klassen and his band of merry gypsies took to the stage as the final act of what turned out to be a fabulous night. Klassen stood front and centre with his hair neatly slicked, his white collared shirt contrasted with black suspenders, holding an acoustic guitar. I overheard a friend compare him to a Canadian Marcus Mumford. I couldn’t fully disagree with that statement. The band sounded tight, and particularly so during their Canadian cover of Sky’s Love Song. Yep. Sky. Remember them? I’m not sure if Jordan anticipated the sing-along or the fact that everyone would have the lines “Then she decides that the dogs they belong inside” floating around in their brains for the rest of the evening, but that’s exactly what happened. Well, it happened to me at least and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.
Klassen also played his radio single Go To Me, arguably his most popular song and fan favourite. Klassen proved he is a serious contender in this year’s project.
As the night was getting late and I had an hour-long drive home ahead of me, I had to bail out of the first PPP showcase of 2012, but enjoyed the night thoroughly and look forward to what wonders the other showcases will hold.
If you want to check out a showcase, you have 4 more opportunities to do so. Tickets are just over $10 and you can buy them at the PEAK Performance Project’s website.