Memoryhouse / Seapony
Waldorf Hotel, Vancouver BC March 10
Seattle's Seapony swim in the simplistic lo-fi/twee end of the indie rock pool. With long black hair trimmed for thick bangs, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Jen Weidl marked their sound with her tastefully underpowered vocals, a little on the flat side as is suitable to their style. Danny Rowland, looking geek chic in black glasses and a V-neck sweater over a button-up shirt, provided the most excitement on lead guitar, with a little surf rock twang mixed into his playing. The band passed subtle smiles between each other here and there, barely containing their joy in their attempt at quiet cool. Generally, they were a touch underwhelming, but their sound was far too pleasant to dislike.
Started by the Ontario duo of singer Denise Nouvion and multi-instrumentalist Evan Abeele and later fleshed out by drummer Daniel Gray (aka MPSO), Memoryhouse began as a sight and sound art project, and transitioned to a dream pop band relatively recently. When you see them play, their roots become fairly apparent.
With the band performing in front of blurry beige and purple panning pictures of clouds, landscapes, ancient sculptures and other ethereal nostalgia triggers, Nouvion dripped artsiness, arching her back while turning toward Abeele, her legs splayed at odd angles. She looked the part, but she's not a natural singer. Her primary artistic practice up to Memoryhouse was photography. Where Seapony used Weidl's vocal limitations to their advantage, Nouvion could not compete with the vocals she recorded for their debut album The Slideshow Effect.
Yet, for all the band's artsiness, there was little sense of pretentiousness emanating from Memoryhouse. Between songs, Abeele let loose a few wry comments while wearing a matching smile, and informed the crowd that Nouvion's grandmother was in attendance, which elicited a collective "awwww" from the crowd. As Abeele would later point out, granny's presence made Nouvion dropping F-bombs before their admittedly barely practised cover of the Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" slightly awkward.
Their sound was decent, though. Abeele stuck to guitar, laying down wistful riffs, while Nouvion triggered heavy synth patches on a Roland sampler. Gray was a something on the drums, too, playing in bare feet with a rather sleepy look on his face, often closing his eyes and drifting off in his own little world. This being one of the band's few Canadian dates on their current world tour, they brought their A game.
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