Clinic / The Fresh & Onlys Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC November 16

Clinic / The Fresh & Onlys Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC November 16
Hitting Vancouver for the third time and promoting their third LP in two years, San Francisco's uber-busy Fresh & Onlys pulled off the kind of flawless set that only true road warriors can. Drawing largely from the recently released Play It Strange, though pulling out a handful of songs from their many singles and earlier albums, the foursome plowed through a 45-minute set of their relentless garage mutations. From the twangy "Waterfall" to the epic "Diamond in the Dark," the Fresh & Onlys played a set that easily won over an audience largely there to see the headliners.

Clinic took the stage in their signature surgical masks and dashikis, then laid out the gentle, wah-filled titular track from their most recent effort, Bubblegum. Tracks from the album, their most stimulating and mellow record after a string of increasingly predictable releases, offset the driving garage assault of older songs and acted as a relaxed breather. New tracks like "Milk and Honey," "Baby" and "Lion Tamer," which have the added flourishes of xylophone, strings and acoustic guitars on record, were stripped to bare necessities, probably due to difficulties in recreating those songs in a live environment. However, they worked well next to older material, even though they lacked some of the lushness of the album that has given the band a second wind.

Frontman Ade Blackburn spent the night switching back and forth between rhythm guitar, vocals and a vintage organ, leading the fuzzy charge of the mostly upbeat set. Clinic also ran through some of the great tracks from their decade-old debut, Internal Wrangler, including "Evil Bill" and the crowd-pleasing, lighter-inducing "Distortions." It's nice to see a band reinvent themselves on record and pull off a captivating live show a decade in, a rare feat in this high-speed and fickle music climate.