Live Review – Peak Performance Finale (Bend Sinister/We Are The City/The Left) March 23, 2010

The following was first published in Beatroute Magazine. Photos by Rachel Hurst. Snark by Clinton Hallahan. It appeared with an edit that truncated it quite a bit, so here is the full thing. Big thanks again to Miss Hurst who did a great job with the shots.

We Are The City

   The gong show that was the Peak Performance finale at the Commodore Ballroom was, at times, adorned with an actual gong. Though it’s musical use was limited, it’s symbolic presence behind the drum kit underscored the corporate vapidities surrounding the showcase of the last three bands standing in the contest.

The Left

   First up was We Are The City, a band so youthful it’s unclear whether the Commodore staff could even serve them liquor. That said, their set was the opposite of what one might expect from a band so young. It was a testament to their talent and more than evidence that they deserved to share the stage with their more aged counterparts. Their brand of indie rock was a crowd pleaser driven by tight drumming and catchy guitars. Say what you will about the death of radio, but the sold out event sponsored primarily by The Peak 100.5 (in association with MusicBC) was filled for what casual audience members might consider the opening act.

   But We Are The City was not the story of the night.

   The Left followed and with them brought the comparatively mellow, safe stylings of a band that seemed slightly out of place. Sandwiched between the vigor of their predecessors and the tour de force of Bend Sinister following, their more than competent radio rock that would have killed in many other contexts seem to fall on less enthusiastic ears.

   But this was not the story either.

Bend Sinister - Dan Moxon

   Vancouver veterans Bend Sinister finished out the night in rare form, playing a set that was packed with their hits. Reports of a stellar Bend Sinister show are plentiful to the point of becoming redundant, but this particular show had the atmosphere and crowd energy that each of those shows deserved. Joined onstage by Nat Jay and Adeline, the Bend Sinister experience was only enhanced by a stage that seemed fitting of their talents.

   This, again, was not the story of the night.

Bend Sinister

   The story of the Peak Performance finale was in the handing out of the awards. Running away with first prize and the not insignificant sum of $150,000 was We Are The City, with The Left placing second and Bend Sinister taking third, taking $75,000 and $50,000 apiece. With full knowledge that it was a contest scored by judges (who previously offered a suggestions on how to improve each band at a development camp, imparting such sage advice as “you shouldn’t play keyboard standing up” to Dan Moxon of Bend Sinister) and was not a popularity contest, the crowd revolted over the results. By far the loudest reaction of the night was the boos and anguish of the crowd when it was announced that Bend Sinister took up the rear. In acts that utterly overshadowed a trio of stellar performances, the night’s shrill emcee had to calm the crowd with sadly prosaic admonitions, assuring the angered audience that fifty grand was not “losing”.

Good music with a chaser of righteous indignation was the story of the night. That, and the gentleman screaming “shenanigans” at people being handed what some consider a year’s salary.