The Belle Game, the Starlight Girls and Ski Lodge
February 28, 2014
Back at the end of February, I was at the Glasslands Gallery for the Vancouver, BC-based synth pop quintet, the Belle Game; the Brooklyn-based genre-bending quintet the Starlight Girls; and the Brooklyn-based quintet and blogosphere sensation Ski Lodge, who were the night’s headliner.
The Vancouver, BC-based the Belle Game opened the night with a moody yet very pretty synth-based sound that reminded me of Caveman’s self-titled 2013 release, material off Milagres’ latest album, Violent Light and Haerts‘ Hemiplegia – yes, the material is based around soaring vocals; however, the vocals are fed through loops and effects pedals at points so that their vocalist could create harmonies with herself. Much of their material played with time signatures and stretched out to epic lengths with songs stretching past 4 or 5 minutes, if not longer; but the interesting thing is that the material felt as though it easily went into unpredictable territory despite the fact that it was also simultaneously not the most original thing I’ve heard live over the last few years.
The Starlight Girls, who jumped on the stage as the night’s second set was probably the most original sound I’ve heard in some time – their sound managed to comprise of elements of psych rock, surfer rock, art rock and pop in a way that made me think of a hellish, nightmarish version of the B52s, mixed with Jethro Tull with a dark, surreal sense of humor, while being danceable and trippy. Adding to the strange art rock sheen, the band performed in front of a screen with weird imagery and live footage projected behind the band. It was weird and yet very cool.
I’ve seen Ski Lodge twice – once at a frustrating show with Honduras and Drowners at the Bowery Ballroom, and of course this time at Glasslands. Catching them for the second time, I found myself liking them even less – their material sounds entirely cribbed from the Smiths without the same emotional resonance; in some way, it felt like I was watching a Smiths tribute band that got the surface level of the emotions but still managed to miss the point. Maybe for those who were unfamiliar with the Smiths, maybe Ski Lodge is a revelation, the sort of band that might speak to them of their own limited life experience; however, if you were familiar with the Smiths and had some sort of life experience, Ski Lodge’s material fell on deaf ears or felt like the experiences came from someone far too young for you to really appreciate it.
The Belle Game
For these photos and the rest of the photos from this night, check out the Flickr set here: