Review by Dorothy Parvaz
Photography by Rodney Gitzel
From the git-go, the gittin' was good. L.A.'s Distortion Felix proved to be the little band that could. I don't believe I've ever seen an unknown band, the first of three in a night, put on such an engaging set. The ordinarily jaded Vancouver audience was surprisingly responsive -- the chit-chat faded and the floor became more and more crowded as the band's set progressed.
They're a band of few chords, that Distortion Felix, but that's got more to do with the number of strings the guitarist broke as opposed to the composition of their songs. I really do recommend that you check these guys out -- there's a hypnotic, heavy-lidded sound to their stuff. Two stand-outs tunes were "Blast Off" and "Make Out," both loaded with a Jesus and Mary Chain sort of moodiness. An Akashic Records flier floating around described Distortion Felix's album, Record, as having "Steamy, romantic pop songs doused with noisy microsynth..." and they're pretty much dead-on too, 'cept maybe for the "steamy" part.
Next up, Tokyo's Buffalo Daughter. Boy I tell ya, they're probably the most coherent, interesting band to come out of that freaky town. Not that I could understand what they were saying, or anything (Japanese accent coupled with a hushed delivery), but that really wasn't the point. Strong guitars and effective keyboards created a wall of sound. Sugar Yoshinaga and Yumiko Ohno are a force to be reckoned with on stage, and their music is as exciting and as intelligent live as it on their albums. Good to know "Silver Turkey" and "Socks, Drugs and Rock'n'roll" aren't merely studio concoctions.
And here come the bad boys. Girls Against Boys, the epitome of sinewy macho pop, opened with "Park Avenue." That was kind of a strange choice, given that most bands save their latest radio hits for the encore. Unless, of course, they nonchalantly tuck it in the middle of their set somewhere (you know, as in, "Oh, you mean they're playing this one on the radio now? We didn't notice. All our songs rock out like this."). No matter how over-produced you think Freak*On*Ica is, hearing frontman Scott McCloud defend his idea of fun got the crowd going and set the pace for an intense set. The combination of two bass guitars and tight drums gives GVSB a kickin' sound, but the addition of a fellow on a turntable (sorry, didn't catch his name) sort of gave them a strange techno-pop sound. It sounded pretty cool, but I don't know if I'd stick with that formula.
McCloud comes off like a sweaty, (more) debauched Rob Lowe look-alike. Come to think of it, GVSB are probably the sweatiest band I've seen in a long time. Oh well, I guess singing song after song about getting laid makes some guys a little hot and bothered.
McCloud's low growl of a voice was as it always is -- no, he doesn't have much of a range, but so what? If it ain't broke... well, you know the rest. He sneered his way through "Cash Machine" and groaned and murmured his way through "White Diamonds, Black Pearls." They did lots of stuff from Freak*On*Ica, some stuff from the House of GVSB, very little off Venus Luxure No.1 Baby, Cruise Yourself and Tropic of Scorpio, but the audience didn't seem to mind. And what an interesting audience, by the way. I don't care if it seemed that more than half the guys there were, in fact, gay and there just to scope out slinky GVSB members. They still looked pretty damn cool with their Armani asses and Calvin Klein thoughts.
Considering copying some of the images from this story?
Please read this first. Thanks.