Super Furry Animals, Dead Meadow @ the Imperial Theatre.
On a dark and rainy evening, Vancouver’s Imperial Theatre hosted the surreal sounds of UK hybrid electro-psych rockers Super Fury Animals. The evening’s entertainment offered an impressive double bill including beloved stoner rock outfit Dead Meadow who are an easy sell for Vancouver’s salivating stoner-rock community, especially given the band’s jam packed Electric Owl show at last year’s Levitation Festival. Though SFA and Dead Meadow two groups play dramatically different music, they share a fondness for extended sonic adventure.
Dead Meadow’s sound encompasses a great deal more space, colour and flavour than the average stoner rock band; guitarist Jason Simon, bassist Steve Kille and Drummer Mark Laughlin clicked like clockwork onstage. Dead Meadow’s sonic excursions last anywhere from four minutes to over twenty. On this evening, the band appeared in good spirits and made the most of their hour long supporting slot. Simon played his stratocaster guitar with reverence and efficiency. Unlike many groups of their genre, Dead Meadow’s music always contains a hint of colour; it must be their wonderfully crisp guitar and bass tones. Rumour has it that Steve Kille will be supporting Vancouver psych rock experts Black Mountain on their upcoming spring tour.
Super Fury Animals took a few extra minutes to set up given their irregular combination of rock instruments, acoustics, and hollow-body guitars as well as a variety of electronic gear. It was clear from the onset that this would not be an average show. The music of SFA can be difficult to describe given the band’s tendency to incorporate seemingly conflicting musical styles into seamless music that is both energetic and modern. Running through the opening number “Slow Life,” SFA barraged the dimly lit club with swirling, electronic key tones. The band themselves wore white jump suits. Frontman Gruff Rhys held up signs with messages for the audience ranging anywhere from “APPLAUSE” to “GO BATSHIT INSANE;” it was a simple yet effective stage trick.
Gruff Rhys took special care to introduce “Ice Hockey Hair Cut” to the Vancouver audience; in the UK, the term is slang for a “mullet”, but the song apparently has a special local significance. “We are worried about the consequences of not playing it again,” said Rhys in reference to a past Vancouver show.
Just like their music, SFA’s stage show incorporates the analog and digital. throughout the performance, a variety of trippy, artistic projections bubbled across the stage backdrop. Perhaps the projections stole some of the attention away from the band themselves but overall they added substantially to the atmosphere. The barrage of such vivid tones and images in combination with Rhys’ dreamy, perplexed songs had a hypnotic, almost meditative effect.
The band admitted that this was their first show of 2016. While the group seemed slightly out of practice on the first few songs, the momentum of performance grew and grew before reaching pinnacle at the very end of their set. “There will be no phoney encores tonight. We invite you to resist phoney encores.” Most of the band did manage to quickly step offstage; they were soon back, a fully costumed set of five furry big-foots. Cranking through the take-no-prisoners attack of the aptly titled “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck,” SFA notched up the night’s intensity, a viciously artistic electro-rock staple and renowned live set ja,. The show ended with some spiralling keyboard, resonating in a wall of furry-like distortion. Sioe Wych!