The Beaches / Hunny

Capital Ballroom, Victoria BC, February 6

Photo: Kirsten James

BY Alan RantaPublished Feb 7, 2020

The last time that the Beaches were in Victoria, opening for Glorious Sons at Save-On-Foods Memorial in late 2018, they made quite an impression. Since then, the Toronto-based indie rock quartet have only released an EP called The Professional, so we are still awaiting a proper followup to their full-length debut, Late Show, which helped earn them a Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year. Given that they managed to sell out the Capital Ballroom on a Thursday night, it's obvious that this city will gladly take any excuse to have them back.
Before the all-female quartet's triumphant return, we were treated to an all-male pop-rock quartet from California called Hunny. Squeezed to the front edge of the stage for their first appearance in Victoria, the crash cymbal from Joey Anderson's drum kit practically tickled the spine of lead vocalist Jason Yarger. However, the latter possessed what appeared to be a full bottle of wine all to himself, so his morale remained buoyant. The sound, on the other hand, came off a touch muddled, but they steered into that skid. During "Shy," Yarger took the mic off its stand and stabbed it in front of the monitors a few times, intentionally creating spikes of feedback.
After almost tripping over a monitor amidst their rendition of "Televised," Yarger warned he might fall off the stage, but a guy near the front promised to catch him if he did, so it was all good. With bassist Kevin Grimmett maintaining his cool mystique and guitarist Jake Goldstein occasionally pogoing, their stage presence was collectively decent. The crowd nodded their appreciation early, but the singing of the "A E I O U" refrain from their most-streamed single "Vowels (and the Importance of Being Me)" followed by a hardy cheer at their set's conclusion indicated that, if there was any doubt, they had won us over.
Performance-wise, there was one small misstep for the Beaches early on. About eight minutes in, drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel started playing the wrong song, while the rest of the band looked momentarily confused. Bassist Jordan Miller said that was the first time that had ever happened, and to mark the occasion, Enman-McDaniel stood up and took a bow. That jitter out of the way, they were locked in solid from then on.
Lead guitarist Kylie Miller and keyboardist/guitarist Leandra Earl synchronized head shakes during "Let Me Touch." With Earl taking lead vocals on "Kinkade," a non-album track that could easily be passed off as a Sex Bob-omb cover, she got right up in Jordan's business. During "Going Under," Jordan showed off some Supremes-esque dance moves, while Kylie got the crowd clapping for a righteous keyboard solo from Earl, who later jumped in a circle while playing guitar in "Desdemona." "Sweet Life" had a thrashy energy like the Runaways on fire, though "Want What You Got" from The Professional provided one of their most distinctive riffs paced with a particularly tasty downtempo breakdown.
You might think a ballad would hinder the momentum, but when they simmered down with "Highway 6" about a half-hour into their nasty riff onslaught, it actually produced one of their finest moments. When Jordan belted out its heartbroken chorus with all of her strength and style, she earned an unprovoked cheer on her own merit mid-song. Comparably, their Giorgio Moroder-like cover of Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head" proved Kylie Miller to be no slouch in the vocal department either (she can do a solid Gossip Girl impression too).
This being the first stop on their biggest nationwide tour to date, Jordan thanked Victoria for popping their cherry, announcing that this was the first time they'd played "The Professional" live.
The Beaches have all the hair-flipping, high-kicking showmanship of a true stadium touring band, with all of the thundering drums, crushing vocals and sizzling mad bursts of guitar distortion dotting a horizon of gnarly riffs to keep the love alive. If they keep evolving, improving and building their catalogue of sledgehammer slammers, and manage to put it all together for their next album or so, the Beaches are gonna be the ones headlining arenas across Canada. If that doesn't end up happening, they'll probably be just fine. They look like they're having absolute blast doing exactly what they're doing right now, and their joy is infectious.


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