The purplish hue of Venue was dark and coldly lit with sparse bulbs and twirling projectors that shot down revolving blue indo-centric patterns onto the dance floor. Cool-looking couples and groups stood and sat, rocking lightly to conversation and wild elevator music. Grabbing two drinkable Heinekens, we set off to make our stake on the dance floor. The floor took time to close in as per usual, and the waiting game started ticking as the grand scope of heads patiently leaned to-and-fro until the advertised performers graced the stage. Until that moment came, two bands on the far side of the same spectrum controlled the audience before the expected show. The first was Ladyfrnd, a local pair with connections to Vancouver’s own Humans, and the second an electronic psych band from Portland calling themselves Swahili.
Back-lit by a single bulb, Peter Ricq and Yuki Holland of Ladyfrnd armed themselves with a Roland MC 505, a ukulele, and a quiet uncontrollable set of vocal cords. Frothy strums layered between smashing bass notes coincided well with their intuitive stage presence. It was perfect, in an awkward sort of way. Their set acclimatized the room and enabled those who had come to enter into the coming night so closely ahead of them. Next came Swahili, a cast of characters that seemed to fit almost too well inside the mixture they dished out. A quick look at their Twitter account reads that they are “interested in everything” and from the ringing in my eardrums that certainly was the case. These bashing bombarders used their noisemakers to pacify and enthrall the minds that were struck listening to their crashing set of tunes.
After the disassembling of each troop’s equipment, roadies and Youth Lagoon came to prepare instruments and find themselves before their set. Resembling what could be Bob Dylan’s twisted little brother, Trevor Powers’ elfish appearance was that of slouched shoulders and eyes that inspired a queer sense of confidence. A few whoops and yodels from the crowd came with smirks from the band mates, several more having been added since I last saw Youth Lagoon. After tinkering and playing around, they left and the lights became dim. Several large white surfboards hung over the stage evoking thoughts of teeth or fingers; the suspense was already broken with them having already been on stage, but I felt it rise once more as their warm-up track began playing. Most of their song choices were taken from their newest album Wondrous Bughouse, among them “Mute”, “Dropla”, “Sleep Paralysis” and “Attic Doctor”. They also dabbled in their previous album, The Year of Hibernation, selecting such songs as “Cannons” and “17”. Powers was a crazed electron, emoting every pitch and rush he was feeling. The low bass would pass through my chest and beat like an artificial pacemaker. From my vantage point, dead centre in the crowd, my position allowed for a view of most of the participants locked into the performance. They were all punch-drunk, feeling the grooves of the complacent strums; it made for an exciting watch.
The performance was an utter buzz and was made better by Venue’s unreal sound system. You didn’t have to be a fan to enjoy what took place there. Complete strangers were swimming in the same place and totally immersed in the music that was being played. There were moments in time that seemed to hold and some that went by all too quickly. It struck me halfway through the show why it had hit me so hard the last time the band had performed – the name Youth Lagoon in itself encompasses my own drives and aspirations during this period in my life. The innocence of the first album and the wondrousness of the second powerfully meld together, resulting in an experience that for a short time allows whoever is listening to nod and understand. Having seen them twice now, it’s clear to me that the band has grown into their abilities to perform. Though I will not go as far as to say they have grown up, I will say their showmanship has certainly matured.