Besnard Lakes @ Lee's Palace, 8 Mar 07

CMW: The Besnard Lakes

I knew we were all in for something special when 2 sound guys carried out the most ridiculous array of guitar pedals I have ever seen (about the size of a fridge door). The Besnard Lakes were in Toronto last month, opening for Apostle of Hustle at the tiny Rivoli back room. This time around, they were headlining a CMW show for a capacity crowd at Lee's Palace. I knew that the time and place were both right for a proper treatment of their material--I wasn't disappointed.

The band opened with Ride the Rails, a track from their recent sophomore release: The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Sound problems quickly became apparent as frontman Jace Lasek repeatedly called out and motioned for more monitor level.

Despite the distraction, they were really just warming up to drop a musical bomb on the audience with their next song: Devastation. The live version of this song was everything I ever imagined the apocalypse to be like. Images of barren landscapes, lava, and setting suns all whipped by the back-screen as the Besnard Lakes launched into an epic explosion of psychedelic sounds and effects (with plenty of great screaming).

The next two songs were On Bedford and Grand and For Agent 13. They were a little too close to the album versions for my liking, but I never really appreciated Jace's crazy falsetto work until I realized how tall the guy really is to be pumping out those high notes.

Their rendition of And You Lied to Me came next, and included another great breakdown worthy of some smoke-machine action. This is one of the better songs on the album, and is a real crowd pleaser in a live setting.

At this point, I took the risk of leaving early to attempt getting into the Apostle of Hustle show. My intuitions were right though, as I wasted 6 dollars on cab to get turned back at the ElMo entrance (media passes don't always work!). I guess there isn't a venue big enough in the downtown core for an act like that... hopefully they will get the hint and book a bigger show sometime in the future, as there are a lot of people who still haven't been able to see AoH's new material live.


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