Exclaim!

Adaline / In Medias Res / Rococode

Biltmore, Vancouver BC November 5

Adaline / In Medias Res / Rococode
Rococode got the first draw on an all-Vancouver triple bill that served as the album release party for Adaline. All told, it was obvious to see why Rococode played first. Their sound was an unsurprising mix of alt-rock and synth pop, with alternating male and female vocals, both bland. While there was some variety in their song structures, they performed a little on the loose side, with any of the breakdowns or offbeat melodies sounding like missteps.

Though it was Adaline's night, as she would remind us, In Medias Res stole the show. Where Rococode exuded awkwardness, In Medias Res displayed the courage of their convictions. They had an honest and engaging stage presence, playing tight and together. The band held their united strength not only in heavier moments but in more serene pastures, which made the shifts to principal songwriter Andrew Lee's guitar thrashing and feedback dabbling all the more dynamic. Lee's slightly broken voice fits their emotive indie rock sound perfectly, lending a hint of fragility to their barely contained power. They can rock you, and they can move you.

Adaline wasted no time letting the crowd know whose party this was. Wearing a beige, sparsely sequined Dolly Parton-style dress that she originally bought for a flapper Halloween costume, Adaline claimed the night as hers, taunted the crowd for not dancing enough, and guilt-tripped everyone into going to the after-party. Granted, she did just release her sophomore album Modern Romantics, a record of grand ambition primarily recorded with Hawksley Workman on a budget many times that of her debut. One cannot fault her for being proud, but a little bit of humility goes a long way.

Certainly, Adaline has a striking voice. She boldly sang through a mostly dry mic, her natural timbre similar to Beth Gibbons of Portishead (albeit without Beth's experience). As such, her voice lends itself wonderfully to her downtempo songs, such as "Keep Me High," which reference -- if not duplicate -- the trip-hop aesthetic (i.e., a scratchy mic, orchestral instrumentation and big beats). Unfortunately, she has taken more influence from electro Goldfrapp rather than trip-hop Goldfrapp, so her songs tend to be sugary, upbeat and a little overcooked. Not helping matters, she suffered mic issues for the first few songs, crackling out into nothing every time she touched it.

Adaline was gracious to the sound guy as he fixed the faulty microphone, though, and her fans didn't seem to mind her aggressive banter, several of them reciprocating with shouts of loving adoration. Set in front of visuals plucked from Tron, anime, orchestras and cityscapes, while her band was clean, albeit thin, and her joy was undeniable.
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