Moderat Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, May 23

Moderat Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, May 23
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
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An absolutely packed venue greeted Moderat (the union of Apparat and Modeselektor) as the Berlin trio took the stage at Vancouver's Vogue Theatre last night (May 23) illuminated from behind by a black screen displaying hands in motion striking various poses. It was the first time the band played Vancouver, and their presence was welcome, singer Sascha Ring front and centre in front of the imaginative, ever-changing backdrop.
 
Ring was serene and at home on stage, his ethereal vocals translating seamlessly from recordings to the live event. While that might sound lacklustre, if you've heard Moderat's albums, it's something to marvel at — the soundscape was re-created perfectly as they opened the show with "Ghostmother" and single "Running," both tracks off their latest album III. Their sound was massive in every respect, as they added elongated builds and flourishes to "Running" and ended off the extended, nearly ten-minute song with heavy piano chords before moving seamlessly into "Eating Hooks."
 
One could argue their presentation was too formulaic, too produced, but it would be understating their musicianship — these are two distinct musical identities that have been on the scene for well over a decade. They've perfected their craft, and can distinctly replicate their albums while still building each track into something altogether unheard, each minimal, improvised upswing in a song drawing a massive crowd response.
 
"Animal Tracks" was arguably the best track of the set, the bellowing blasts of brass complementing the visuals, a spiralling labyrinth inferno against a black background that in turn perfectly encapsulated the song's gritty urgency. The trio teased out the intro to "Bad Kingdom" for minutes, Gernot Bronsert jokingly bantering with the crowd about switching off with Ring and taking the vocal lead, while ultimately all three took the chorus with enthusiastic help from the crowd.

If "Animal Tracks" was the most viscerally attentive track of the night, "Bad Kingdom" was certainly the most beloved; Moderat milked the song, surprising the audience by unexpectedly turning up the lights while Sebastian Szary held his mic over the crowd in an effort to have them finish off the track, which they did with fervour after realizing the song was coming back for a last refrain.
 
Though it was next to impossible to hear, Ring pulled out a bass to accompany "The Fool" and "Intruder" off of III, rounding off a nearly two-hour set that still felt entirely too short. With the lights up, Moderat joined hands at the front of the stage and gave a humble bow to an overwhelmingly appreciative crowd, a fitting end to their first West Coast show.