War Baby and Dead Soft liven up a wet Saturday night in Vancouver

War Baby and Dead Soft with Brutal Poodle at The Rickshaw Theatre, 1/20/17

It was a cold, wet, Saturday evening (Jan 20); the time of year notorious for staying in, saving money and attempting to stick to any remaining resolutions. But on this miserable day something exciting was happening on Hastings Street, as the Rickshaw Theatre was acting host to what has become an annual show featuring War Baby and Dead Soft.

There was a party atmosphere in the venue and the stage was adorned with golden, star shaped balloons. It was the fourth year in a row that War Baby, who formed in Vancouver 10 years ago, had played this show at the Rickshaw with fellow Vancouverites Dead Soft. This year they were accompanied by local band, Brutal Poodle, who have been creating a buzz for themselves following the release of their demo EP Long Time No See last November.

Brutal Poodle, whose Facebook description reads ‘We hate parties’, have a sound that’s a mix of grunge and indie-pop. A couple of songs in and they had fully captured the attention of the audience. The three-piece played a set including songs from Long Time No See. “We have some tapes for sale” teased guitarist and singer John Johnston, (cassette tapes seem to have been making a comeback over the past few years, particularly amongst DIY record labels). Sharing smiles on stage, it was clear that this band enjoy playing together. Do they really hate parties? Maybe, but it didn’t look that way.

Dead Soft took to the stage next. This charming poppy, grunge-punk band announced the addition of new members at the end of last year, taking them from a three piece to a four piece band. As it was still early days for this revamped line-up even those who had seen the band before were in for a treat. Just as they were about to kick off with their first song someone in the crowd cheekily shouted, “Don’t fuck it up!” This was greeted with laughs on and off stage. It was clear they had friends in the audience.

Dead Soft’s music was upbeat and foot-tap inducing, the perfect kind of music to let loose to on a Saturday night. With a setup that saw Keeley Rochon take centre stage playing bass and dancing with her guitar, their energy was infectious. As the set drew to a close the party atmosphere lingered, this updated version of Dead Soft proved to be a success with the audience.

The crowd had been growing steadily throughout the night and a few War Baby T-shirts could be seen around the venue. When the band took to the stage there was no messing around. The announcement of the start of their set with a loud drum beat seemed to come from out of nowhere. Startling a few members of the audience this drum beat lead into their first song of the night as the balloons swayed on ribbons around the band onstage.

War Baby was the noticeably heavier act of the night. The noise rock group dressed in jeans and black tops and kept things simple. But their music was far from simple. It has won them quite the local following and even lead to them supporting Royal Blood last year.

War Baby’s drummer, Kirby J Fisher, who the birthday balloons were in honour of, grinned and played at an impressive speed. Sweat could be seen flying as he tugged on his vest. You would have thought he’d be used to the heat: “I’ve just come back from Australia” he announced “I’m glad to be back!” It certainly looked like he was.

Towards the end of their set War Baby introduced a new song, which proved to be a crowd pleaser. With this debut it sounds like the band has been working on a follow-up to 2017’s Coma Kid EP. What can we expect from them in 2018? We’ll just have to wait and see.