Published Feb 19, 2012Despite being first billed, the opening act at Saturday's early Biltmore show could have made a strong case for reconsideration as "third headliners." There is an inexplicable magnetism that the best live acts transmit, and Vancouver's Mode Moderne has this exact appeal. On this night, the group took music for introverts and made it accessible to even the loudest patrons, easily earning them a spot on the city's "to watch" list.
Disappears took to the stage next, and their music touched on some familiar reference points (think Wire by way of Neu!). While reminiscent of other contemporary bands that draw influence from the hypnotic drive of Krautrock, they projected an energy rarely found in similar acts. It was evident through their willingness to move around the stage that they were focused as much on converting the audience as they were holding down the repetitive rhythms, something that often gets lost when playing a set that requires intense concentration. The few audience members that stood by idly eventually swarmed the front stage, returning the aggressive energy towards the band for the remainder of the set.
When the Fresh & Onlys made their way to the stage, it became clear that they would have to be mindful of the time constraints surrounding such "early shows." This being the first night of their West Coast tour, the crowd got to witness the group fully energized, not yet subjected to the inevitable exhaustion of touring. The band began their set immediately after the stage's curtain was drawn, opening with "D.Y." and "Invisible Forces," two of the more upbeat songs from 2009's Grey-Eyed Girls.
From here, they performed songs from the rest of their back catalogue, the diversity of which demonstrated main songwriter Tim Cohen's near-mastery of the pop song structure. Like Disappears, the Fresh & Onlys take familiar reference points and make them their own, turning it all into a winning formula of eccentric psych-laced garage pop. The night came to an end with the band respecting the need to end at 11 p.m. sharp, leaving the audience pleading for more.