“Hey, so we’re here. It’s pretty empty but I think the first opener takes stage soon”
That was the text I received from my friend Stefan at 7:21 PM Friday night as I lounged lazily on my couch. I was being a fat piece of crap on the couch, and didn’t really feel like moving my body around much, but it was looking like that wouldn’t last much longer.
See, Stefan, Arash and I had decided the previous Friday that going to see Zeus would be a great idea (which it was, more on that later), but there hadn’t been any communication in the meantime. Naturally this meant I never got around to going to Zulu and getting a ticket, so after a .05 second decision to go to the show, I hopped a bus and shambled my way to the door at the Biltmore.
The bouncer at the door popped the ID question, and then said, “Cover is, well you’ll see inside.” Which I have to admit seemed a touch foreboding but thankfully I was rewarded with the knowledge that the ticket was only a bonus 2 dollars on top of the pre-show ticket price of 13 (should’vegonetoZulu).
I met Stefan and his wunnerful fiancée Sharlene at a table (Arash was M.I.A), at about..oh, let’s say 7:50. The show was an early one (doors opened at 7) which meant that it started at 7:30 (though it didn’t) and ended before a bizarre 10:30 curfew. After a bit of a chat, things got started up with Daydream Vacation.
I’d never heard of this band from Seattle before, and I gotta say, I was impressed. A fella (Dave Einmo of Head Like A Kite) and a lady (Asya of Smoosh) shared vocal duties, and were backed up by some electronic beats and a drummer. It was a light flowing electronic pop sound (I’m no genre master), and I was lovin’ the phone receiver microphone with the distortion it had going on. Since I know nothing of them, I can’t really impart a good feeling of the job that they did but check out their website and take a listen it’s very worth it. Really the only bad thing about the set was the fact that they were a band that went well with a big drunk dancin’ crowd and unfortunately there were probably only 4 people on the dancefloor (with a max. of about 17 by the end of their set).
By the time Sun Wizard got set up and started playing more people had arrived, and there was a crowd rather than a sprinkle of individuals. Once again, never seen/heard of the band before, but, double once again, a pleasure to hear. They had a shoegaze/southern rock sound, and some mean moustaches. They played one song, World’s Got A Handle, that reminded me of a song I’d heard before. Stefan and I narrowed it down to Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’, but I still have my reservations (great song though). I feel like they’d be more at home opening for Deer Tick (who I love), but they played a good set, so I’ll say check ‘em out too. Support your local music, yes?
Now it was time for the main event to hit the stage, and boy did they. I’d never seen the band’s selves before, so it was quite a surprise when a curly haired, moustached Jimmy Fallon (Carlin Nicholson), a bearded Conan O’Brien (Mike O’Brien, coincidence?), a taller/thinner/younger Gary Oldman (Neil Quin), and what I felt to be a mix of one of my professors and one of my classmates from school (Rob Drake, I’m sorry I couldn’t be reminded of someone famous for you), took the stage, and started off with something I didn’t recognize.
This was because, come 2012 (in March I think they said?) there’s a new Zeus album rolling into town. They followed up with another new song, and I thought that both of them were solid, but not particularly exciting. Then it was time for ‘Kindergarten’, perfect. Now this is where it gets fuzzy. Not because I’m a drunken mess; rather, I’m just awful at keeping the order of a setlist unless I write it down ASAP. So from here on in, let’s pretend I’m correct about my setlist recollection shall we? This was followed by ‘Greater Times On The Wayside’ which flowed into ‘River By The Garden’, which was as wonderful a coupling as it is on the album. Their cover of Genesis’ ‘That’s All’ brought cheers and smiles from the crowd, and though I never really liked listening to the recording as much as their other songs, this live version was more aurally pleasing I thought. ‘Gotta Tell ‘Er’, ‘Heavy On Me’, and ‘Marching Through Your Head’ (my favourite song off the ‘Say Yes’ album), were all rocked out in excellent rendition. I’ll take a segue right now to mention that during the whole event, Mr. Nicholson, Mr. O’Brien, and Mr. Quin were jumping around bass to guitar to keyboard and back, showing that as far as the three instruments go, they knew their musical instruments (and chairs).
This was my favourite part of the night. Mr. Nicholson got on the keyboard and they moved into an instrumental jam which sounded INCREDIBLE to my ears (maybe an exaggeration, but I absolutely loved it and hope it’s included on the new album), which moved into a song from the new album ‘Love Ain’t A Game’. There was a beaut of a three-part harmony to start it off, and from the sound of things, it’ll be my favourite song on the new album. They finished their set up with ‘The Renegade’ and the new single from the upcoming album ‘Are You Gonna Waste My Time?’, which was another hit in my opinion.
Then we played the old encore game, and they came back out to play ‘Hot Under The Collar’ from one of their 7”s (I’d never heard it before, but it’s a good song, worth a listen), and they closed with the first song from ‘Say Yes’, ‘How Does It Feel?’. It felt great (HAW HAW HAW).
All in all? A great show.
I was really hoping to hear ‘Cornerstones’ from their ‘Sounds Like Zeus’ EP, and I was betting they’d close on ‘At The Risk Of Repeating’, BUT I’ll live without those two favourites.
Let’s not forget that I also got to hear two new bands, both worth looking into, that made the extra two dollars at the door more than worth it.
My advice: listen to Zeus a lot, and if you can, see them live, they put on a great show (especially if you can catch them with Sam Roberts somehow).