Yukon Blonde kicked off their new tour in their Vancouver hometown at the Commodore Ballroom, “our favourite venue in our favourite city,” as singer Jeff Innes would later point out.
Opening the show was Minneapolis band ON AN ON, a group whose name has been making the rounds over the last few years. I only just realized that this band formed from the ashes of Scattered Trees, which was a group I rather liked, so there’s a fun surprise. ON AN ON’s music is quite a departure from the previous Scattered Trees material, but judging by the process by which this new project formed, that is pretty much the point. Overall, the set was very mellow, with a bit of intense movement by singer Nate Eiesland and a very impressive voice by bassist Ryne Estwing. Also, instead of writing the title of their song “Ghosts” to end their show, the set list featured a drawing of a trio of Pac-Man-like ghosts.
Soon, the main meal, Yukon Blonde. These hometown boys and girl have stampeded their way across the airwaves of late, and befitting their more new-wave-touched, synth-laden sound of late, the stage backdrop featured a massive pink-and-white 80’s stylized banner with the band name above a Tron-like landscape. Early on, an attempt at a sing-along and arm wave during “Wind Blows” was surprisingly minimally successful, but the audience was pretty high-energy despite this. Innes took a break then to talk about the upcoming tour and to say that he’s “f*cking stoked” for it. He then quickly apologized to his grandmother for swearing. I assume that means she was in the room. As the set continued, it got loud. The bass was absolutely pounding, making the whole room buzz. Any surface you touched was alive with the energy smashing off the stage.
Just around the halfway mark through the show, they cracked out their big single, “Saturday Night.” Afterwards, Innes said they were about to play another new one from the latest album. “I don’t even remember what it’s called… I was going to talk about ON AN ON…” Of course, the newest record is called On Blonde, so you can sort of see how he got tripped up there. Innes also spoke a lot about his bandmate, guitarist Brandon Wolfe Scott, claiming him all sorts of things from a consummate guitar player, to a startling solo artist (he does have a solo project that leans to the mellow acoustic-indie side of the spectrum), to a brilliant amateur photographer who contributes the majority of the band’s Instagram account. “I feel like giving out Brandon’s phone number,” Innes stated as he reached for his cel phone in his back pocket. Later he addressed the tour again, asking for the crowd’s well-wishes as they were embarking on a cross-Canada tour in February and wondering if they were going to make it through alive. “Wow, sorry to get so f*cking heavy. I’m scared.”
They ended their main set with “Stairway,” and paused near the end of if to applaud a crowdsurfer who had made it onto the stage, only to be quickly escorted off by security. For the encore, they played a song that they had received as an iPhone request, their first one ever, as Innes claimed, which is why they needed to play it. He figured they’d be able to do it – they had played it at practice recently. I didn’t catch the name of that tune, but then afterwards they simply stated, “we’re gonna do this…” and as a disco ball came alight near the back of the stage, they broke into a big version of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” The tributes continue, and the audience complied! I believe it was bassist James Younger who lightly interjected an “RIP Bowie” as the rest of the band bid us goodnight and waved as they headed off stage.