Gang Signs Make Love to Your Ears

Gang Signs do indeed know how to put the ‘party’ into an album release party. While there were no piñatas or rounds of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey (though that would have been a premium idea), there was non-stop dancing and great music all night. Everyone was there to celebrate Gang Signs’ debut self-titled EP which was released on August 28th. It all took place at The Cobalt on Main St. last Friday night. The Cobalt is a nifty place to see live music and have an all-around fun time. The outside of it may have seen better days but the inside is an aesthetically pleasing mix of dark wood, chandeliers and shiny pinball machines.

Gang Signs were supported by Blac Hollywood. Blac Hollywood, real name Cephas Munga, is a 20 year-old electronic artist. He mixed a wide range of samples into his music from hip hop to Purity Ring. He had a kind of hype man who would intermittently jump off the stage to grind with ladies, hand out business cards and video the audience. It made them come off as on the charming side of being young and cocky. Blac Hollywood’s mellow, experimental music was played to a modestly sized crowd but I’m guessing it won’t be long before he gets much bigger in Vancouver.

At 12:30, Gang Signs got on the stage to face an eagerly waiting audience. They all looked well turned out for their release party, especially Matea Sarenac who sported a Grimes-like outfit complete with pigtails and bindi. They started with album opener “Counting On You” entrancing the audience with raspy, chanted vocals from Peter Ricq and Sarenac. Gang Signs have perfected the formula for making dreamy, electro-rock heaven. The elements seem minimalistic but the mix of keyboard, guitar riffs and Adam Fink’s drumming come together to make seriously addictive, lo-fi music. They followed “Counting On You” with the morbid “Poison One” and the energetic “Prequel” and “Running”. These two songs are more high energy and the crowd started busting out the dance moves in earnest. Gang Signs were obviously really enjoying themselves at this point and were looking more comfortable on stage. The good vibes filled up the room, that and the cheap beer had the crowd showing them some serious love.

Next they played their single “LA on Monday” and “Going to the Sea”. They switched it up with Sarenac taking the lead for awhile. She’s got an arresting way of singing, half coyly moaning, half bored of it all. They seemed to be over all too soon. Their songs have a way of blending into each other that you don’t really notice the time elapsing. By this I mean all their songs have that distinctive Gang Signs sound – pulsing beats, grinding bass-line and ghostly vocals.

They played such a tight set of seductive electro-pop, I can imagine most of their songs being indie dance hits. They definitely deserve a wider audience and it feels like it won’t be long until they break out of the Vancouver scene. You should enjoy one of their live shows while they are still knocking about this part of the world. You can purchase and download their EP here.

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien

Jessica O'Brien fills many the happy hour as contributing editor and writer for the Vancouver Weekly. She can be found eating all the nibbles at book launches or getting lost in tiny secondhand book stores. Follow her on twitter @jesso_brien