The Zolas Gus's Pub, Halifax NS, October 24

The Zolas Gus's Pub, Halifax NS, October 24
Photo: Ryan McNutt
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The Zolas certainly know how to hold a groove. The rhythm section recruited by core members Zachary Gray (vocals/guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski (piano) had the crowd at Gus's Pup swaying throughout the band's night-ending HPX set, and Dobrzanski's bouncy piano playing kept the festivities buoyant.

But just because you can hold a groove doesn't necessarily mean you know what to do with it, and the Vancouver band's pleasant-but-unremarkable set failed to leave much of an impression.

Familiarity isn't always a problem for bands, but the Zolas' set was lacking any sort of kinetic spark to overcome the comparisons it invited. The band traded some of the piano-pop stylings of last year's Ancient Mars for an Afro-pop swagger that came across as a less satisfying take on Vampire Weekend. Credit where credit is due: a healthy portion of the crowd, ready to cap off their HPX Thursday with a bit of polite dancing, got what they were looking for. But it felt like an exercise in leisure rock: well-performed, familiar but fleeting and, ultimately, a tad underwhelming.