Peaking Lights / V.Vecker Ensemble / White Poppy Biltmore, Vancouver BC July 27
Published Jul 30, 2012White Poppy's decayed psych was the perfect beginning for a well-curated show, with both Peaking Lights and locals V.Vecker Ensemble showcasing new records. Quietly colour-saturated, the two-piece's fuzzy guitar loops and vocal bliss-outs were happy to float in a blurry, half-high kind of way, hiding melodies just beneath the surface.
Led by composer Keith Wecker and featuring members from the likes of Nü Sensae, No Gold and Basketball, V.Vecker Ensemble are a hefty combo boasting a good half-dozen members, displaying a pretty classic jam-band take on sun-soaked, early Not Not Fun kinds of rock hypnosis. Though not gunked-up with the same psych murk, Sun Araw-style guitar repetitions got particularly freeform on the 20-minute "In the Tower" with the same heavy-hitting '70s riff set on repeat. Celebrating their newly birthed vinyl release, the set was as tension-packed as it was mesmeric.
Wisconsin duo Peaking Lights are out on the album release tour for Lucifer, their debut on Mexican Summer. The reclusive, desert-cabin myth that shrouded their earlier tapes on the Night People label like Imaginary Falcons and Space Primitive has lifted, but the ultra-delirious and circular negotiations with dub motifs are still there more than ever. All those dub and funk mixes, they recently put together make a lot of sense in the context of the more clean, controlled haze of Lucifer.
Bass-focused coasters from the new LP like "Cosmic Tides" and "All the Sun That Shines" (from the previous 936 album) seemed to work best, though others like "LO HI" with a giant, reverberant vocal mist at the front were more hypnotic. On those recordings, they've tapped into some more specifically retro signifiers like flutes and clear-cut reggae drum delays, but in the live setting, there's a blurry continuity between all their material.
It's always been Peaking Lights' oblique sense of wonder that stands out the most, and this was still obvious even alongside their fondness for incessant grooves at the Biltmore.