Though I made my love for Attack in Black quite apparent when I picked Marriage as my top album of 2007 (with The Curve of the Earth coming in at #19), I still had not managed to catch the band live. And I live in Canada. My chance to see the band finally came when they were set to open for ultra-hyped indie act Tokyo Police Club. Though I’d rather see the band headlining a tour with a long set, I was not about to miss out on seeing these boys live.
Before Attack in Black hit the stage, Smoosh played. I had never heard this act before, but they put on an excellent first set. The core of the group is a pair of sisters -- one on drums, the other playing keys and singing. Now, these girls are young -- the older sister is 16, the younger is 14. And occasionally, their other sister joined in on the bass, and she was even younger -- 11 years old. And yet, these girls play pretty sophisticated stuff for their young age; the drummer’s performance was particularly well-done. The set was dragged down by a bit of repetition in the song styles, and by the cat-calling by a few guys in the crowd, but overall they were a pleasant surprise.
Attack in Black then took the stage, and their show revealed the same kind of risk-taking seen in their album releases. The band opened with two unreleased tracks, a pretty bold way to open get the crowd into your set. The two tracks were both fantastic, falling somewhere between Marriage and The Curve of the Earth. Think a bit slower, but dark -- small comparisons could be made to Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me, I suppose. The band’s set consisted of songs mostly taken from Marriage, with a few from The Curve of the Earth, and another new one thrown in the mix as well. Their performance was extremely intense, with each band member appearing to be in another state of mind while performing, completely encapsulated by the music. Of particular note is when the drummer and bassist switched spots for a quick rendition of “You’re Such an Only Child,” which seemed to have most of the audience puzzled.
I could really only find two complaints about the show -- the first is that they didn’t play “Northern Towns”; the second is that their closing rendition of the title track off Marriage, though fantastic, didn’t feature quite the same intensity heard on record. Overall though, these are minor quibbles with what was ultimately a fantastic set.
Set list (as best as I can remember):
- New Song #1
- New Song #2
- Hunger of the Young
- Come What May
- The Love Between You and I
- I’m Going to Forget
- New Song #3
- Young Leaves
- You’re Such an Only Child
Though the hype surrounding Tokyo Police Club is huge these days, I’d actually never listened to them (though it was quite obvious that most other people have, as they had to have two shows in Vancouver after their initial one sold out). The band plays very upbeat indie rock, fronted by a singer who sounds vaguely like Colin Meloy of the Decemberists. Their set was very energetic and quite entertaining, but it was the synth player who stole the show. The guy dances around behind his keys and makes all sorts of great motions, occasionally getting so close to the keys while playing that you’d think he’d be in danger of poking his eye if it wasn’t for his thick glasses. Unfortunately, the length of the set didn’t serve the band well, as the set started to get extremely repetitive. Most songs seem to chug at the same tempo, and the frequent handclaps and gang vocals of “hey!” wear thin after a couple of tracks. The band also chose to have a set of tall narrow LED light panels behind them, which, though admittedly kind of neat, hurt my eyes slightly. Maybe tone those lights down, boys. By the time the band had finished their set, they were drenched in sweat, but still managed to perform a good encore for the crowd (worth noting: the song they played in their encore featured gang vocals of their band name
Overall, it was a very satisfying night showcasing two great Canadian buzz bands, and a very talented, very young set of sisters from the US of A.