Dominique Fricot Haunted By Love Single Release Party March 31 at the Interurban Gallery – review

A solid sixty people had come through the fittingly named Interurban Gallery’s doors by the time opener Christopher Arruda took to the stage around 10 p.m. For those who aren’t familiar with the Gallery, it’s on the corner of East Hastings and Carrall, attached to Scratch Records, with which it is affiliated. The multi-purpose space is clearly still working out a few kinks as a live venue (including a tiny, unfortunately-placed bar area), but it has major potential for helping to improve the community, especially if its staff/members are all as helpful and dedicated as those manning the door and bar last Saturday night.

Victoria’s Christopher Arruda (formerly of The Lady Esther, Open, Parachute!) quickly identified the night’s major issue after his very first song. “It’s fuckin’ loud in here!” The already well-lubricated crowd added their own exclamation mark with a solid “WOOOOOHH!”, to which Arruda promptly retorted with a frustrated “Shut the fuck up!!” … Okey dokey… maybe not the best way to set the tone for the show.

While Arruda may not have dealt with the boisterous room all that well, it’s worth noting that the room was filling up quickly with eager partyers and if it was loud on the floor (and it was), who knows how loud it was on the slightly elevated stage in a venue that wasn’t specifically designed to handle concert sound.

Nevertheless, Arruda persevered and warmed up the room with his songs on piano and guitar, including an interesting cover of Radiohead’s “Black Star”. The man’s dramatic demeanour was mirrored by his vocal delivery, which bordered on the theatrical at times, and succeeded in underlining the sincerity of his performance.

The towering Dominique Fricot (formerly of Spark That Screams, The Painted Birds) took to the stage next and teased the audience with a single song, “Strange Lady”, accompanied by Four on the Floor, a string quartet comprised of Hannah Epperson, Michelle Faehrmann, Michael Fraser and Elliot Vaughan.

Four on the Floor continued on sans Fricot and played their set amidst the din of the now-packed room, occasionally looking at one another and mouthing “It’s so loud!” In the end, they pulled it off – good for them. Those in attendance evidently enjoyed their set, especially a danceable number featuring beautifully dissonant strings backed by a bass-y electro-beat.

Adrian Glynn managed to quiet them rowdy animals down some, bravely starting off a capella with the booze-soaked “The First Time” (“I loosen my tie for the first time tonight…”). He pursued his crowd manipulating/managing abilities – “Let’s all say shhhhhhh…” And there you go. What better way to shush a crowd than to have it shush itself? Well done, sir.

The Vancouver-based artist was easily the most comfortable among all those who took to the stage Saturday night, both in terms of musical performance and crowd interaction. Sensing an anxious crowd that was ready to pop, Glynn obliged with some foot-stomping, hand-clapping barnburners like “Mother Mary”, which he prefaced with “This is as close I get to a club tune.” The more raucous numbers gave him enough space for some softer moments, including a captivating spoken word piece.

The only blemish on an otherwise fantastic performance was the overwhelming system volume at certain points, which had presumably been jacked up to compete with the crowd, particularly on “Blue Belle Lament”.

Dominique Fricot (emphasis on the second syllable, not “freako”) hit the stage ‘round midnight and entertained the Fricot-faithful with his brand of sweet, radio-ready, pop-rock.

With a voice reminiscent of a mellow Dave Matthews or an if-he-was-Canadian Chris Martin, Fricot regaled his fans with some well-known originals, as well as a serene cover of Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly”, which caught everyone’s attention and held it for “Haunted By Love”, Fricot’s catchy new single.

The love-soaked ditty is sure to get some airplay on Vancouver radio, what with its local setting (it starts off “On the corner of Cambie and 16th”) and the fact that Fricot cracked the Peak Performance Project’s Top 20 with The Painted Birds in 2009.

The new single was followed by “Seashore”, which is available for free by joining Fricot’s mailing list.

Also worth mentioning is the use of Haley Hunt-Brondwin’s unique photography for stage lighting via projection onto the white back stage wall. Nice touch.