Review by Paul Watkin
Photography by Suzanne Goodwin
What stood out immediately were the strong vocals of Betty and Jenni (anybody seen Jughead and Archie?), the two front women on vocals and guitars. The interplay between their voices gave the songs an extra punch, notably on heavier tunes such as "Space" and "Lenses." It was so nice to hear people in this musical genre who can actually sing instead of relying on endless screaming to be heard.
The majority of what we heard tonight was from the band's new disc, Flash. The songs were tight, upbeat power pop tunes that held everybody's attention throughout the entire set. This was due not only to the strength of their songs, but also to their stage presence. Rolling through one song after another, they kept the momentum going; one of the only times they paused between songs was to tune down for the lo-fi sounds of "Low."
Honouring a request, Red Five played an older song, one from Betty and Jenni's previous band, and then, rearing their punk heads with wicked renditions of "Your Creation" and "Hold Me Down," they attracted the small crowd ever closer to the stage. Captivating from start to finish, the dynamic duo just kept pumping out the tunes and had those guitars echoing power chords throughout the Starfish Room.
The nice thing about a small crowd and a personable band is that it makes for some just regular conversation between all involved, and we got a taste of that this evening. When there seemed to be confusion as to whether the band would be doing an encore (they were out in the crowd by this time), three members climbed back on stage, and the fourth stood and applauded for more with the crowd. It was kinda funny... I guess you had to be there, but you probably weren't. You missed a really cool band. Where were ya, huh? Red Five ruled.
The Insipids were the middle band on this bill and did not rule, but I don't think they cared. The drummer seemed far more interested in trying to find beer than trying to keep time. Definitely influenced by D.O.A., this local hard rock/street punk outfit did play some cool tunes, they just didn't play them well. It was funny, the guy sittin' beside me knew the band and after the first song said "That was definitely a sound check." Unfortunately, the whole set was painfully like a sound check. You know, the Insipids are meant for cubbyholes like the Hungry Eye (RIP), where it's small, loud and in your face. They're not ready for the bigger rooms yet.
Closed Caption Radio opened up to about 20 people and did a pretty good job of it. They are an intense, mood driven power rock band that set the mood of the songs with brooding guitars and lyrics before blasting into a wall of noise. With loud guitars and screaming to match, they vented their pent-up anger and let it build up again for the next song. By the end of their set, I was thinkin'... "okay, that's enough," but overall it was pretty interesting, and due to the decibels they cranked out I think I'll need a closed captioned radio, because I just might become one of the listening impaired.
Closed Caption Radio did a good job opening the show and they were loud... REALLY LOUD, but interesting to watch and listen to. The Insipids blew chunks. Red Five put on one tight show and were simply awesome. I'm hopin' they come back to Vancouver in a flash.
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