If you missed out on the privilege of having your face melted by Metallica this weekend, you may have sadly just accepted your un-molten fate and gone home. But if you cared to look below the shadow of Rogers Arena, you’d have discovered that Vancouver had plenty of awesome music to offer anyone who wanted to find it. You just had to know where to look.
If you wanted something heavy, loud, and overflowing with punk energy last Saturday, the Media Club had you covered. Taking the stage that night was Numbskull, the AK-747s, and One Life Animal, groups that reveled in being chosen over the bigger metal show by the crowd. As the two opening bands played, the crowd steadily poured in from the front doors, and immediately began filling the floor.
The first opening band, Numbskull, is a grisly heavy blues band that sounds like a little bit of Motörhead and a little bit of ZZ Top. Lyrics plucked from the vine of girls, guns, and bikes were filtered through gnarly beards and gnarled vocals. After a few whiskey shots and a short set, they cleared the way for the AK-747s.
Looking at them standing on stage, they didn’t seem like the kind of lineup one would expect to follow a band like Numbskull. With a fiddle and an acoustic guitar, the AK-747s looked liked they were about to play a set of Dave Matthews. But they were somehow heavier then Numbskull, and went absolutely bonkers. The fiddle player in particularly really looked like he was trying to saw through his fiddle and release some demon, his bow a tiny hacksaw. The rest of the group was giving it 100%, giving us the heaviest, rawest performance with delicate string instruments I’ve ever heard.
As the last band was about to come up, I was surprised to see the venue almost full, and people still pouring in.
One Life Animal appeared on the stage as three men and a jungle cat. I don’t mean that as some sort of poetic metaphor – in the darkness of the venue, it really looked like Kimba the white lion had taken the microphone, until he peeled back the skin from his face and revealed a gorgeous woman.
I swear, no illicit substances were involved in this process.
The lead singer of One Life Animal wouldn’t have to wear a costume to convince me she’s part lion. Feral is the best word to describe her. Harsh, primal vocals boiled through each song. The thick coils billowing from her head and the shimmering auburn of the glitter she wore on her face made her seem like something from the cover of a pulp science fiction magazine. Her persona was only one half of the experience however – her dark primacy a counterpoint to the other leading force on the stage.
The guitarist of One Life Animal is the smiling, funny, and musical opposite to the girl singing beside him. A vehicle for both great musical execution and silly banter, their relationship was the heart of the performance. Even when they weren’t speaking, the way their own individual sounds mixed together and reacted was almost certainly chemical.
The band was having a ton of fun, which was hard not to let rub off on yourself. They had reason to be – the crowd was amazing, the music was awesome, and as our guitarist pointed out, his parents were happily seated at the back together, and the band had a drink for them.
One Life Animal brought back that thick West Coast sound to the Media Club, that sound that some of the greatest bands from decades before have grown out of. It was fun to just bang around in a venue with a small but enthusiastic crowd, and a band who was having a great time.
You can listen to One Life Animal on their website, but if you like what you hear, you really need to see them live. The next time the arenas are filled and you’re thinking of just going home, take a look around. You might just find One Life Animal lighting up a room somewhere.