Getting to the Moroccan Lounge on Wednesday night was an adventure. As the “Atmospheric River” flowed into town there was a torrential downpour disrupting the evening commute and making it a challenge to get to the venue before the 8:30pm start time. Much less finding parking that wasn’t severely flooded. Those beloved angle spots on Banning St. where everyone wants to park? It was a lake. But braving the storm for a night out, without turning your car into a raft, was well worth it for the sold out crowd who came to see Vancouver indie rockers Mother Mother on the 3rd date of the North American tour supporting their newest album Dance And Cry.
Radio stalwarts in Canada for a decade (Current single “Get Up” is #1 on the Canadian Radio Airplay Modern Rock chart this week), the band has always drawn good crowds in Los Angeles and an energized and vocal audience sang along on every song with million-watt front guy singer/guitar shredder Ryan Guldemond and singer/keyboardists Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin. That interplay between the band’s female vocals and Ryan’s lead vocals, with his unbelievable range and dynamic timbres, has been the signature sound of Mother Mother from the beginning. Live it’s a mesmerizing and intricate combination that gives the songs a huge amount of energy, especially on fan favourites like “Body of Years”, “Hayloft” and the title track from 2008 album O My Heart where the vocals weave around each other, and some epic basslines played by Mike Young, in a combination that’s at times super deep, explosively exciting, and playful, like on Hayloft’s “LOFTS!”, as well as the irresistible “Monkey Tree” from 2015’s Very Good Bad Thing.
Were they apologetic about playing new material in the show, like seems to be the trend nowadays? Maybe a tiny bit, but of everyone who’s done that banter lately they would have the least to worry about. Dance And Cry is an incredible album. It’s hard to fathom a seventh record by anyone being one of their best but here we are. From the quiet to massive build of “I Must Cry Out Loud” to the acoustic shout along and falsetto fireworks of “So Down” to the soul-baring and heavy/sweet “It’s Alright” the new material played great live and judging by the percentage of crowd singing along those songs are already Mother Mother classics.
Other highlights included Molly singing a Radiohead “Creep” interlude, mid-song, that displayed her incredible range and vocal power, and the encore starter with Jasmin singing new song “Biting On A Rose”. Shortest song on the album and it’s wistful and hazy and has an almost theatrical feel, like it’s from a musical Ryan hasn’t told anyone about yet.
Opening the night was Los Angeles-based band Winnetka Bowling League. The latest project of singer/songwriter/producer Matthew Koma (who has worked with Zedd, The Knocks, OneRepublic, Shania Twain, and many others), their set featured excellent indie pop songwriting and production.
Propulsive guitars and keys, with washy hook laden vocals, drove things along, with a few mellower moments, especially notably for their captivating song “are you okay?” which treads some delicate emotional ground, while still maintaining an intriguing melodic pop sensibility. Unsurprisingly for a successful songwriter’s project, the band’s debut EP, released by RCA in 2018, sounds fully formed and confident and live they sound like a group that’s been playing together for years. Their set wrapped up with their debut single “On The 5”, a summertime nostalgic strummer channeling a classic California throwback beach sound. It’s track one on the EP and a great place to start listening to them. Excellent pairing with Mother Mother.
Words and photos by Tim Aarons