by Michael Thomas
QB and BC were the order of the night, with one act from the former and three from the latter.
My night began with Milk & Bone, playing for the first time ever in Toronto, at the Great Hall for Osheaga’s 10-year anniversary party. The band’s smooth electro-pop ballads translated well and the two were calm and serene throughout despite belting emotionally resonant songs. They started with “Elephant,” a great tone setter, before moving to Little Mourning standouts “Pressure” and “Coconut Water.” They also pulled out a new song that immediately fit in with their current material, before ending with “New York.” Sadly their set was only six songs, and no doubt the crowd would have liked more. But the duo will return and undoubtedly be playing their own headlining sets in Toronto very soon.
Next stop was the Supermarket for Vancouver’s David Vertesi. Playing with a keys player and drummer, the trio played what Vertesi described as “sad dad cruise ship music” which was weirdly accurate. Vertesi’s pop-leaning instrumentals took on a new life with his deep vocals and emotional lyrics. His set was fairly evenly split between Cardiography songs and newer material, beginning with the pseudo-tropical “Soft Skin” ans ending with “Mountainside.” He showed he could turn up the intensity with “Waterways” and he even unironically covered a classic Spice Girls track. In true rock fashion, his last song had him descend into the audience and play guitar standing on two chairs.
My last stop of the night was the Music BC showcase and I arrived exactly as Hot Panda began playing. They must have taken an extra shot of energy before starting, because their 45-minute set barely ever let up. Their music at times could be as intense as punk music but without the screaming; there was always a sense of humour about everything. Chris Connelly and Catherine Hiltz were dynamic guitarists to Aaron Klassen’s manic drumming, and it seemed early on that a mosh pit would break out. It didn’t, but the band had a very enthusiastic front row and the crowd loved every minute of their high-octane weirdness.
Finally, Rococode brought a rich, textured sound brought to you by three keyboards, guitars and drums. Their music teetered between dark electronic music and guitar pop, but it was always fun to watch. Laura Smith was the main vocalist and never kept still, while Andrew Braun looked positively blissed out as he pounded away at the keys or occasionally took over vocal duties himself. Their single “Banks” came second-last in the set and showed off the true power they’re capable of, and overall the set ended on a bit of a rock and roll note.
Quebec and British Columbia really knocked it out of the park, and with one night to go, here’s hoping the next acts I see can do the same.