Casiokids / Light Pollution / Einar Stokka Media Club, Vancouver BC August 21

Casiokids / Light Pollution / Einar Stokka Media Club, Vancouver BC August 21
Einar Stokka was first up on an early night triple bill. The Norwegian lad had a generic voice and unimpressive skills on an acoustic guitar, but he seemed sincere as played his English-sung singer-songwriter fare, joined by members of fellow countrymen Casiokids for his final song. Since this was his last North American gig, he gave away copies of his EP, which was a nice touch.

Next up, Chicago's Light Pollution took the stage with all the grace of four junkies trying to fit into a bathroom on a Greyhound bus. But once their first song kicked in, they were miraculously solid. While not tremendously in tune, their brand of heavily layered lo-fi shoegaze psychedelia didn't really call for that, and these guys genuinely gave it all they had. Bassist Jed Robertson was bouncing the entire time he was on stage, with or without music and with or without the beat. It was remarkable so few people made their way to the front because the energy pouring out from the monitors was so palpable you could almost taste colors.

However, the audience rushed the stage for Casiokids. Soaking in all that swirling '80s nostalgia, these Scandinavian scamps are the right band at the right time, from their name to their sound. With an arsenal of precious pawnshop keyboards and dance punk grooves, their sugary pop and rolling beats are undeniably "in," and their capitalization is ensured by the fact they are a tight live band and generous, joyous performers.

Lead singer Ketil Kinden Endresen's wondrous, moaning, extended upper-register melodies, combined with a funky rhythm section and all those keyboards, make it sound as if Sigur Rós toured with the Rapture, and sang in Norwegian rather than Hopelandic. While Casiokids ended up going a little "Under the Sea" at times, with cheesy percussion and a slide whistle solo, their closing tracks cast aside all doubts.

For the second to last song, guitarist Fredrik Øgreid Vogsborg took over on vocals. Gifted with a hint of torture in his voice, Vogsborg balanced out the cheese, bringing a necessary gravity to their sound and a compulsion to their beats. The appearance of a costume-clad monkey man made a smooth transition to the borderline raunchy "Fot I Hose," capping off their finale in fine style.