Mother Mother & K. Flay @ the Commodore Ballroom 03/25/17
Canadian Indie rock band Mother Mother chose their hometown Vancouver as the last stop on their “No Culture” tour, where they hosted five shows. Their sold-out first show last Saturday night at the Commodore Ballroom was full of both treats and tricks.
The night started off American, with electronic/rap artist K. Flay injecting her infectious energy into the crowd. Despite her microphone volume being a bit too low, her performance was nothing short of astounding. Hits like “FML”, “Make Me Fade”, and “Blood in the Cut” had the crowd chanting along and moshing. Her new song “High Enough” from Every Where is Some Where had many heads bopping along to the catchy chorus.
When she left the stage, an ominous baby doll head was lying there, reminiscent of Mother Mother’s new album cover. The eyes were glowing, its skin was red, and fire-resembling hair stuck out of the skull. The crowd was in for a crazy ride.
The lights dimmed, and Ryan Guldemond’s spiky yellow hair peaked onto the stage, the band logo lighting up behind him. Excited exclaims echoed through the audience as Ryan’s unique voice burst through the speakers “Love let my nightmares, turn into dreams”. Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin joined him on vocals, and their keyboards ignited the night with the melody for “Free”. The stage lights alternated from pink to red to blue in a frenzy as the quintet played, with Ali Siadat on drums and Mike Young on bass.
“The Stand” from Eureka and “Reaper Man” from Very Good Bad Thing augmented the energy in the overcrowded ballroom. Ryan then waved and humbly stated “Hey Vancouver! It’s an honour to be with you tonight! This is something off our new record.”. Woos and screams resulted from his address as he started singing “Love Stuck”.
During “O My Heart”, Ryan flung himself into a lucky section of fanatics, surfing on their outstretched arms as he strummed the guitar enthusiastically. As soon as the song was over and he was launched back onto the stage, the music transitioned to the very popular “Let’s Fall in Love” from The Sticks. Verbalizing the audience’s enthusiasm–and perhaps referring to the rising temperatures resulting from multiple bodies jumping and headbanging–Ryan said, “Feels good in this house. You guys are doing good. Let’s all contribute equally to this good feeling. We’re doing it together tonight!” His renowned, somewhat goofy mannerisms and facial expressions contributed to the passion perceived in his voice as he sang about love and loss in “Letter”: “Love is just a syllable, and pain’s the same. So is it just a little overkill writing the days away?”
“You guys doing good in your precious, inconsequential lives?” said Ryan. “Well hopefully not too good, because the pain and the suffering and the misery are very important. It defines contrast to nights like tonight, right? The darkness gives way to the light. That’s what this song’s about, it celebrates this shadowy figure in the little quagmires we find ourselves in, which are so crucial to the gifts that come after. It’s called Baby Boy”. Ryan’s guitar wept as he sang about the cycle of temptation and addiction that affects almost everyone globally.
“Monkey Tree” from Very Good Bad Thing and “Drugs” from the No Culture album changed the tempo in the crowd. One could almost feel the oxytocin release as everyone sang along, stress and anxiety evaporating. Jasmin echoed these sensations, “To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bitchy grouch all day. I’m so tired. And I’ve completely forgotten all of that. I’ve got a rock in my shoe, but I’m like fuck it, this is perfect!”. Ryan and Jasmin harmonized as they subsequently sang “Wrecking Ball”. Two unexpected highlights were Ali’s drum solo and Mike’s bass solo, complete with an intense light show that could have induced some seizures.
The performance was completed by an encore, consisting of slower songs like “Ghosting” (O My Heart) and “Simply Simple” (Eureka), with another small speech from Ryan, who described their musical journey: “There was a time when it was a far cry to afford a kick at a gig at the Commodore!”
These talented Vancouverites have come a long way since then.