Trust and Light Asylum at the Biltmore Cabaret July 18th – Review

It was a night for showing off your most sombre 80’s dance moves.  Both Trust and Light Asylum consist of girl/boy duos with an affinity for gritty synthpop. The Biltmore Cabaret provided the perfect backdrop to this music. It always has a slightly grimy atmosphere and quickly filled up with an androgynous looking crowd sporting asymmetrical haircuts and tank tops.

Just as the crowd were starting to get antsy support act Light Asylum launched their attack. It felt like an audio assault with their pounding beats, clashing synths and powerhouse vocals delivered by Shannon Funchess. Funchess has a truly unique voice that helps to set Light Asylum apart from over electro bands. It is a force to be reckoned with. Deep and almost monotone it can seem unearthly but then she lets loose a howl or tremor full of emotion. Her vocals are powerful and vulnerable at the same time, which kind of encapsulates Light Asylum’s music. The beats are spiky and chaotic but the lyrics speak of loneliness and heartbreak. The crowd were dancing from the start but became more frenzied when they played their single Heart of Dust. As Funchess screamed ‘get out of my house’ alongside what sounded like videogame lasers it was impossible not to get carried away. I pulled some shapes and freely imagined myself in an 80’s Berlin nightclub. They played a mix of songs from their 2011 EP In Tension and their 2012 debut self-titled album. It was released May 1st and can be purchased through Mexican Summer.

Trust did not have as immediately violent an impact onstage as Light Asylum did. Their brand of synthpop is a slinkier, more desolate affair. It feels more like you have just left the 80’s nightclub and have found yourself on the cold streets, wondering if you should go home with this stranger and then your fries fall in a puddle. The Toronto based band is made up of Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski. Postepski is also the drummer in Austra but as Trust was formed way back in 2010 it seems like more than a mere side project. They released their debut album TRST last February.

It feels like Trust are on the cusp of something big. They have got some great synth dance songs and they also have a captivating quality about them. It does not hurt that lead singer Alfons looks like a male model. Skinny, in a white tank top and mop of black hair he is quite the Romantic figure. All attention was on him as he prowled the stage and avoided eye contact with the crowd. He has an unusual voice that is half nasal whine, half sexy snarl. Their songs are full of sexual tension and sadness. Alfons seems to reflect this enigmatic mix. At times he seemed utterly lost in the music and his own world. He would turn away from the audience and kneel down. With his head in his hands, raking his hands through his hair it was hard to know if this was just an affectation or was he actually in turmoil. Either way you could sense the crowd loved this mysterious front man. He did not engage with the crowd at all but this distance seemed just to draw them in further.

Bulbform’ and ‘Sulk’ were two absolute beasts of dance songs. Distortion, pulsing synth beats and a sense of foreboding filled the room. Most of Trust’s songs you can picture yourself dancing to in a club or listening to in a dark room in a depressed mood.  The coldwave synth was relentless, building to a mournful crescendo and then suddenly it was all over. Alfons and Postepski quickly left the stage, there was no encore. The crowd seemed too dazed to call for one though I doubt they would have returned. We all filtered out into the dark, maybe a little bit more on edge.

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