Holy Fuck Had Victoria Raving to Rock

Capital Ballroom, June 1

With Linqua Franqa

Photo: Kim Jay

BY Alan RantaPublished Jun 2, 2022

Previously scheduled for February — and before that planned for a couple years ago — the long-delayed West Coast leg of Holy Fuck's tour in support of their 2020 album, Deleter, finally rolled through Victoria. It was halfway through the week, halfway through 2022, and the venue was half-full, but the computer-resistant electronic rock band formed by Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh gave fans everything they had.

The first of their gifts would be opener Linqua Franqa, an activist and rapper from Athens, Georgia. Mariah Parker recently earned their PhD in linguistics at the University of Georgia. They also represent Athens-Clarke County as a District Commissioner, and entertain under a name similar to lingua franca, which refers to language that transcends culture. Their 2022 album Bellringer featured guest appearances from Jeff Rosenstock, Kishi Bashi, of Montreal and Angela Davis, with a bunch of beats from Reindeer Games (a.k.a. Ben Bradberry), and was mixed by Walsh himself.

Linqua Franqa instantly won the crowd over as they trickled in from the drizzly dusk onto the surprisingly sticky Capitol Ballroom dance floor. It was like flypaper or the front row of an old movie theatre down there, a bogginess adding extra effort to every move, but that didn't stop the audience from starting to high step along with Parker.

Linqua Franqa had a ludicrous, animated movement style, juking around the stage real low with a little slo-mo footwork, and they were equally commanding on the mic, demonstrating all the emotive neo-soul vibrato of Lauryn Hill and the political fierceness of Immortal Technique. Headliners don't often get the level of crowd participation they received, and being the consummate opening act, they used every opportunity to pump up Holy Fuck.

Honestly, though, what can anyone say about Holy Fuck that isn't already expressed by their name? The ethos behind the band at its genesis in early '00s Toronto was to buck the trend of musicians going too far into computers, making things too perfect. Multi-instrumentalists Borcherdt and Walsh embrace limitations in order to create uncertainly, and it is in that imperfection that their humanity flourishes. The mere fact that things can go wrong makes it so much more meaningful when it goes right.

Joined by long-time their collaborators, drummer Matt Schulz and bassist Matt "Punchy" McQuaid, the group were firing on all cylinders. There was a particularly cute moment early into their set as they waited for the beat for "Tom Tom" from their 2016 album Congrats to come around. Schulz did a couple of short rolls on the kit before the track dropped like a sack of bricks, and the room only got sweatier from that point on.

Their set drew from across their catalogue. Following the relaxed ambiance of "Endless," a droning jam from Deleter which infers a bassline that never arrives, they blended smoothly into the sort of radio static that births "Lovely Allen" from their 2007 full-length LP.

Borcherdt worked his side of the stage from behind a small array of eccentric gear, including a 35 mm film projector. It was quite something to see him play guitar with a mic jammed in his mouth for "Shivering," and fire up the old 35 mm film synchronizer for tracks like "Super Inuit" and "Red Lights," the latter of which allowed McQuaid to provide his funkiest bassline.

Schulz looked focused on chilling, taking swigs from a bottle of bubbly water and towelling himself off between songs. Contrastingly, Walsh seemed the most prone to jump around, putting everything he could into the incomprehensible vocal loop at the crescendo of "Caught Up," the final song from their encore as well as the last track on Deleter.

In any case, it all clicked. They had people raving hard to rock music, with hardly a peep from the peanut gallery that wasn't a token of appreciation for them. Regardless of how people arrived there, their cups left filled.

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