Published Jul 23, 2011People just want to throw things at Tim Harrington.
At the Rickshaw Theatre in the middle of Vancouver's notorious Downtown Eastside, a bra, beer and belt all went sailing towards the Les Savy Fav singer's glistening, bouncing belly. The objects were not hurled in malice, but as an offering worthy of the punk rock enthusiasm he laid down.
Though he's hard to miss -- bald, bearded, often with his stomach peaking out from under his shirt or wearing a rainbow-fringe jacket -- Harrington is impossible to keep track of while he's in the throes of performing. He jumped up behind his band (straight-laced by comparison; the drummer wears glasses, for god's sake) clutching a fistful of his ten-foot mic chord before leaning precariously over a balcony, plowing through the crowd and sitting, as if on a playground swing, on a chain hanging from a row of lights that threatened to buckle under the weight. The music was secondary to the spectacle, though there were highlights like "Sweat Descends," "Patty Lee" and "Let's Get Out of Here."
Openers Handsome Furs were equally captivating. Tearing through their latest and arguably strongest record, Sound Kapital, Dan Boeckner was a rock'n'roll frontman with a wild wife providing the charisma and high kicks. Alexei Perry's voice might sound grating rubbing up against Boeckner's signature warble, but she made up for it with violent hair flips, weird dancing and a theatrical face.
From the beginning, the too-short set was buoyant and bursting with energy, but the couple somehow managed to build up to "Serve the People," when Vancouver band Basketball jumped up to play two sets of drums and bounce around clapping. Bathed in a red glow and engulfed in thick plumes of smoke, the pulsing beat and throbbing strobe lights sent the crowd and band into rhythmic sort of chaos.
Judging by murmurs around the floor after, a good portion of the audience came primarily to see the Montreal duo. In the end, the acts were complementary, offering two kinds of spectacle for the price of one.