If you are in the habit of following British Columbia bands, then you no doubt have been impressed by the swift growth and rise to fame of Yukon Blonde, the indie rock powerhouse group originally from Kelowna. Since their early days as Alphababy, Yukon Blonde’s progression as real up-and-comers in the global music scene has been inspirational to numerous other B.C. bands, especially in Kelowna where the small city’s music scene is thriving. The group’s latest album, 2015’s On Blonde, is not groundbreaking in its genre, but the group brings life to their tracks through their colourful music videos and live concerts like at the Commodore on Friday, February 5. Often an ongoing issue with bands who use pop elements in their work and have more than a couple of albums under their belt, some of their songs can seem mediocre on an LP but infectious in a live session. This is, as always, a testament as to why concerts are must-have experiences.
Following opening Minnesota group On An On, whose style is right in tune with the sounds of B.C. darlings like Yukon Blonde, Said the Whale, and Dear Rouge, the headliners jumped into the show with a set that bounced from album to album. “Stairway”, which is generally cemented in the minds of Yukon Blonde lovers as a staple, featured frontman Jeff Innes and lead guitarist Brandon Scott at their most vibrant in their relationship with the audience that night. This track is the kind that one imagines to be playing during a teen flick’s last-minute make-out session between the main characters or as the credits start rolling.
This 80s thing Yukon Blonde has got going on is really, really working for them, from the band’s pink Flashdance-esque logo to keyboardist Rebecca Gray’s stoic synth-backing. The danceability and poppy drive of “I Wanna Be Your Man”, “Wind Blows”, and “Radio” are classic Yukon Blonde, although the group’s progression through their set list showed a lack of variety in tempo and melodic style.
Scott — who just released his first solo EP, The Postcard Writer — proved to be the most fun in the group that night at the Commodore, with his endless energy, glowing Adidas, and unwavering smile. With so much creative energy flowing through the pack of musicians and a large and continuously growing following, the Okanagan-grown group has a very good chance of creating an album that mirrors the sound of their live performances. The group’s latest single, “Saturday Night”, which is really picking up speed with fans and is the epitome of Yukon Blonde’s 80s-infused dance brilliance, united the crowd of hipster pop-rockers in their high-wasted jean uniforms and flattened caps.
Ending the Friday night with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” was the perfect way to bring the show home. The audience’s vibe perfectly coincided with the track’s neo-disco, this-is-the-height-of-the-night’ ambiance, and the Starman’s masterpiece song was no doubt on the iPods of over half of the Commodore’s audience.