Friday evening at Rickshaw theatre, Vancouver embraced the experimental as Suuns and Holy Fuck took to the stage as part of Levitation Festival. With more distortion than a house of mirrors, it was heavy alt-rock meets improvisational electronica from the two Canadian bands.
Suuns – a Montreal-based rock group – focused largely on their earlier material (Images du Futur, Zeroes QC) for the duration of the set. Elongated rhythmic sections, piercing guitar riffs, and, unfortunately, some muddied vocals defined the performance. During much of their set, the lead frontman’s nonchalant style meant his singing was drowned out by the other components of the act. Emphasis was placed in greater sum on percussion, lead guitar and synthesizer as the band went into sprawling, noisy jams like “Sweet Nothing”. Although the crowd was not terribly active, there was definitely a positive response to the group.
Headlining the evening was Toronto band Holy Fuck. For the uninitiated, Holy Fuck produces electronic music through “organic” methods: instead of relying on drum machines and prerecorded instrumentation, the music is being created live through both digital and analogue means. Working with the conventional (drums, guitars, keyboards) and the unconventional (toy keyboards, 35mm film synchronizers) they are able to make a host of extraordinary sounds live.
As improvisational and experimental as they may be in their methods, the product is generally accessible and appealing. Running through hits such as “SHT MTN” and “Stay Lit”, the band kept the crowd dancing all evening (even moshing at times). Thanks to the lively drumming of Matt Schulz, there wasn’t a moment of rest for band mates and audience alike. On a personal note: the heavily modulated, at times shrieking, vocals of Brian Borcherdt finally created a visual for the sounds I have been listening to for years wondering “human-being, computer, or other?”.
Finishing off their performance with the triumphant “Lovely Allen”, the Vancouver audience was left elated and undoubtedly satisfied. Holy Fuck embodies much of what Levitation Festival is all about: the exploration of music and performance through experimental means. Vancouver is fortunate to host Levitation and with any luck, it will return next year with a new set of pioneers in the quest for new sound.