Electric Owl, Vancouver, BC, February 25
Performing with a pair of backing ladies, who added a bit of vocal harmony, all three had their own station littered with conspicuously taped-over Nord keyboards, effects, a Roland drum pad and a MacBook on the floor, among other things. Depending on the song, one of the women might move around to Juul's station, or he might move around to hers. They tried to keep it fresh.
Occasionally, their soundscape came together. As on record, "Magic Kids" simmered lovingly, while their version of "Bird" built up and flew away. For "Reality Sublime," they pulled out a massive rolling bassline over a boom-bap beat, a sound so massive it felt like a full body massage in the concrete space. That was a rare moment that went beyond the recording.
For the most part, though, they didn't come up to the standard shown on the album. Considering how many electronic instruments were being used, the group weren't very tight as a unit. Feedback kept whining during "I Am Haunted," and Juul's piano work seemed questionable. While the detuned warble tone for "Melt" was intentional, to keep with the piano sound on record, the sloppiness obscured there was brought to focus in "Lips, Lips, Lips."
Though Juul seemed like a nice guy, often expressing his gratitude to the audience, his music didn't appear all that genuine this evening. For his style of lush lamenting balladry, Juul's voice often sounded strained. He seemed to be reaching, really going for a forlorn sentimentality that may not have been there. Perhaps it was an off night, but the kernel of potential heard on Somewhere Else wasn't realized live.
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