Live at The Independent: The Besnard Lakes and Land of Talk

10/18/2010

San Francisco’s Independent was again invaded by the ever-increasing swarm of talented Canadian indie-rockers. While all three bands–Suuns, The Besnard Lakes and Land of Talk–share the right to call the same great city (Montreal) home, their music sounds as if it comes from completely different places. The musical display was impressively wide-ranging, spanning the sounds of the entire indie rock spectrum.

Beginning the night was Suuns. The energetic trio churns synth and noise-ridden stomp-a-thons where the melody only becomes obvious if you make the effort to listen (which is much more elusive than it seems). Next, The Besnard Lakes, a four-piece with sounds that sprawl from the ethereal to the metallic and include nearly everything in between. Led by the husband-wife songwriting duo of Jace Lasek (vocals, guitar and keyboard) Olga Goreas (vocals and bass), the band worked through their best songs with grace  – most notably “Disaster,” “Like The Ocean, Like Innocent” (both Parts 1 and 2), “Chicago Train” and “This Is What We Call Progress” – from their last two albums, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse and The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night.

In contrast to the last time The Besnard Lakes played the Independent, and probably due to the fact that Land of Talk was headlining, they had the opportunity to play to a packed house (the fact they can’t pull a packed house on their own is a complete mystery to me, though it’s probably due to band having waaayyyy too much mojo for the casual listener). They didn’t waste the opportunity.  Mixing heavy doses of falsetto, interspersed guitar solos, proper timing and humor, The Besnard Lakes clearly won over a crowd where the majority was probably unaware that they had existed just an hour before.

Land of Talk: “Quarry Hymns

[audio: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/11598506/Land_of_Talk_Quarry_Hymns.mp3]

Headlining was Land of Talk, led by the unassuming yet beautiful voice of Elizabeth Powell, who while being besieged with “Lizzy, I Love You” from the audience was impressively unassuming herself. Of Course, “Lizzy” in the leather pants (singer and guitarist) wasn’t the only one on stage; she was accompanied by drummer Andrew Barr, bassist Joseph Yarmish and 2/3rds of the group Suuns that hold her vocals high above the crowd, and among the majority of her peers, imported or otherwise. The crowd held mostly quiet throughout, due to the fact that they’d much rather listen to her voice – which is some sort of combination of Amy Millan and Karen O – than to their own. Wise the fans are.  While Land of Talk doesn’t have the most original indie sound (probably the exact sound non-indie fans imagining when you tell them you like indie rock) and I couldn’t discern a difference between a majority of their songs, they do have that secret weapon- a lovely-voiced “Lizzy” clad in leather, completely prepared for the fact that there is a chance you will fall for her.