Published Aug 30, 2014Ruby Karinto's Japanese Canadian singer came onstage dressed in an elfish, pencil-shaped hat. It later turned out to be the subject of one of their wonkiest, most hilarious songs, "I Am a Pencil." She started the show with some quick sarcastic banter before plunging into their first song, "Mangetsu." The astronomical mono ribbon synth showers this barebones "No Wave" aesthetic with vibrant and spacey textures. The sound tech balanced their instruments perfectly, filling the space with bright, crisp sound.
Their choice to end their set with a calmer song disappointed, since they electrify their noisier tracks. It's a great counterbalance to their singer's absurd sarcastic candour, and atonal speak-singing, which can be stifling when applied too heavily.
The next act, Vialka, didn't make it obvious where their sound check ended and set began; their abrasive and chaotic music sounded like an avant-garde, Baltic version of the Dirty Projectors. Despite being more spastic and weird, they maintain the DP's tight, gymnastic playing. Becoming quite internally hypnotized at times, they risked losing the audience to preserve their eclectic persona. However, they shone during their turbulent fills, where their improvisations showcased their instrumental talent, and obvious onstage chemistry, but not their vocals.
Out of all the acts on the bill, the Perms have by far the clearest pop sensibility, cleanest sound, and liveliest stage presence. This long-standing Winnipeg power pop band lifted the mood immediately, with blazing electric guitar and tight vocals. It seemed puzzling to slot the Perms with these other, far more experimental bands, but the choice worked. Their sound is a remarkably familiar, and energetic brand of pop punk. Although it isn't exactly pushing envelopes anymore, it still makes for a joyous end to an evening filled with so much heady experimentation.