Real Estate Rickshaw Theater, Vancouver BC, March 4
Published Mar 05, 2014This was an unofficial release party for Real Estate, with their third studio album, Atlas, having been released in North America the very same day. And yet, their attitude made it feel like a planned release party, particularly that of affable bassist Alex Bleeker (of Alex Bleeker and the Freaks). Bleeker was snappy all night, poking fun at flannel-clad singer-guitarist Martin Courtney's stunted banter, repeatedly giving props to the local opening band the Shilohs and expressing genuine thanks to Vancouver for producing such a substantial and attentive crowd on a Tuesday night. It might have helped his mood that he was taking pulls off a full bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey between songs.
Fellow guitarist and occasional songwriter Matt Mondanile (also of Ducktails) got into the fun too, dedicating his performance of b-side "Beneath the Dunes" to his guy up there, gesturing to the balcony. Their collective levity came to a head after a well-received new tour version of "Black Lake" from their eponymous 2009 debut, when they launched into riffs from classic rock songs "Smoke on the Water" and "Iron Man" while tuning, which Courtney jokingly claimed they wrote.
Their performance backed up their antics. They played with quiet confidence, the five piece band creating rolling waves of liquefied indie pop, tinged by equal parts surf and jangle. There was good interplay between guitarists Courtney and Mondanile, seemingly so in sync that they'd finish each other's melodies, and the rhythm section was locked down tight, warm and consistent.
Unfortunately, Mondanile's vocals were pitched uncertainly when he sang, and Courtney's were alternately monotonous and underwhelming; most of their attempts at harmonizing ending up warbled and uncomfortable. And their signature beach-y, murky textures, care of near constant use of phasing and flanging, ended up making their songs run together after a short while.
Overall, though, their presence and instrumental prowess kept the show in the black. Naturally, their set list heavily featured compositions from Atlas. The album's dream-pop instrumental, "April's Song," opened their set with a showcase of their skill, so spirited that keyboardist Matt Kallman's head started bobbing like a parrot. Obvious single "Talking Backwards," a summery, upbeat track with Courtney on acoustic guitar, stood out on the night, and the Bleeker-penned "Wonder Years" from their sophomore album Days received a bunch of hoots from the increasingly invigorated, enraptured crowd.
In all, they came off like a like a less psychedelic Tame Impala or a more ambitious version of the Ventures, with their dreamy, downtempo nostalgic sound filling the Rickshaw like an ideal prom band. One dude by the stage right speakers certainly had an unforgettable night; his unrelenting pogoing and flailing was eventually pointed out by Bleeker as an example for the rest of the crowd to follow. Indeed, it only takes one guy with the right kind of attitude to get a party started. If Real Estate took that guy on tour with them, like their own version of Bez from Happy Mondays, their live show would really take off.