Concert Review: Weaves, Look Vibrant, Venus

Bar le Ritz was lucky enough to receive Weaves just three days after the release of their critically acclaimed sophomore album Wide Open. Support for the evening came from Look Vibrant and Venus, who brought with them their strong Montréal fan-bases.

Venus opened the evening with three pleasantly perfumed songs off their self-titled debut EP, which they released in May. It’s a lovely collection of shimmering synth-pop tunes that put Sophie Ogilvie-Hanson’s sugar-sweet vocals and thoughtful lyrics at the forefront. Backed by a talented five-piece band, their richly layered grooves and dreamy beats had the whole crowd dancing. Venus treated the audience to a new, not yet released track, before yielding the stage to fellow Montréalers, Look Vibrant.

Bringing with them enough energy to fill a venue ten times the size, Look Vibrant thrusted their joyous noise pop onto the crowd of eager ears. I couldn’t stop beaming as I watched the choreographed chaos unfold on stage. The sheer variety of sounds they managed to produce was something to behold: percussive accents reminiscent of carnival game music, an electric guitar that sometimes took on the veil of a melodic telephone ring, and three unique falsetto voices taking turns at narrating the whimsical cacophony, to name a few. The band had an enjoyable synergy - quirky, charismatic stage presences which complimented rather than clashed.

Weaves frontwoman Jasmyn Burke is another delightfully eccentric stage presence, also possessing a unique and dynamic voice. Her idiosyncratic vocals fit perfectly into the “bent pop” genre that Weaves have coined – a sort of warped and exhilarated take on art-rock, somewhat reminiscent of tUnE-yArDs. They opened the set with the new album’s lead single “#53”, then went on to play four more songs from Wide Open. “Slicked” and “Law And Panda” kept the energy high with danceable, jagged hooks and noisy choruses. “Walkaway” is the type of heartfelt sunset indie-rock that reminds me a little of Big Thief (who coincidentally held the stage at Bar le Ritz earlier this year.) Weaves took a brief break from the usual outrageous, comedic lyrics to deliver their song “Scream,” which is a defiant call for self-love in the face of racial oppression; starting out personal and corporeal, it then turns outward and finds strength in community. The studio version features a powerful vocal performance by Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq.

Whatever tidiness the set began with, it all disintegrated as the night went on. After promoting their new material, Weaves transitioned to the charmingly messier works from their self-titled debut. During “Coo Coo” and “Shithole” Burke confronted the audience with a crazed stare, allowing the live performance to elevate the erraticism of her songs. Guitarist Morgan Waters screamed into his guitar, carrying distorted vocals through the amp and into our ears. “Two Oceans” was the first song Weaves ever tried recording as a complete improvisation; they used to avoid playing it live, purposefully evading the contradiction of performed spontaneity. I was glad to find that they’ve since ditched that rule - the song is an exuberant treat!

The concert-goers didn’t let Weaves get away without an encore, beckoning them back to the stage for what ended up being a playful cover of “My Generation.” Burke celebrated by jumping into the crowd, dancing with her elated fans, and closing off the night with a giant group hug.