I received notification that I would be covering indie band Carnivores from Atlanta, Georgia, at the very last minute on Wednesday August 8th. Awesome! But there was no time for the usual build-up of the over-the-top excitement that I usually experience when I’m going to a much-loved music venue for a much-loved music fix.
This evening’s venue; the Commodore Ballroom in the heart of downtown Vancouver – spacious enough to hold a solid crowd, yet just intimate enough so the acoustics are not lost in space. The atmosphere in the already packed venue was electric and almost tangibly thick with the anticipation of the show to come when I hit the top step of the ballroom’s entrance.
Suddenly it was 9.30 p.m. and I was being ushered in front of the stage barricade with my exceptionally professional camera in hand. Oh there it was! That delayed pre-show, childlike excitement of mine. As it continued to bubble up within me moments later, five young, fresh-as-a-daisy youths lined onto the stage – four lovely looking young men and a pretty lady with beautiful, long lustrous brunette locks to rival those featured in a L’Oreal advertisement. Each member of the band set themselves up with their respective instruments – three guitars, a keyboard and a drum set.
After a friendly introduction in a distinctively southern drawl, to let us know who they were and where they were from, the band tore into their first indie track. I’m not going to lie; I was a little dubious about the sound that was going to come from the mish-mash of instruments directly in front of me. I was instantly and absolutely put in my place. The keyboards added ominous psychedelic tones to the set; the drums, much needed bursts of gritty, thrashy rock; and the three guitarists? Believe me, it worked. All five members worked fluidly together in a relaxed complimentary fashion, transforming each song into a story, despite my personal belief that too many band members/instruments do not a good combination make.
After listening to a few songs which were sang by singers Philip Frobos and Nathaniel Higgins, once talented Caitlin Lang lent her memorable female vocals to their music (haunting and dreamlike at times, direct and harsh at others), I felt like I was listening to a far more indie, expanded version of British band the Ting Tings.
Carnivores chatted briefly with the audience during their set, pumping them up for Scottish main act Franz Ferdinand. They did however become solemn during one of their final numbers, when dedicating a song to their “friends upstairs”.
What did I take away from my experience of seeing and hearing Carnivores for the first time, I hear you ask? I learned that five members and many instruments can actually work well for an indie band. I now understand that having a name that suggests flesh devouring creature does not necessarily mean that it will in any way reflect on the band’s look, demeanour or sound. I now know that Franz Ferdinand lead singer Alex Kapranos is smitten with this band, as I spied him watching from side stage for a good portion of their show – he also dedicated one of his own band’s tracks to them. Finally, I discovered that singer and guitarist Ross Politi is double-jointed, as I watched him hit the floor in a twisted yoga type pose with his guitar, while the band powered through their final number.
Applause and wolf whistles reverberated off every wall in the Commodore as Carnivores finished their set, bade their farewells and exited the stage.
I was lucky enough to bump into the band’s super-friendly drummer Billy after the show. Taking advantage of my few moments with him, I asked him how the tour came about. “We met [Franz Ferdinand] last summer in Scotland, and it just happened from there, they’re pretty awesome guys.”
Awesome – a word I would most definitely use to describe the Carnivores themselves. Engaging music, electric onstage presence, endearing personalities with a grounded appreciation for fans both new and old. Hey guys… can I be your friend?