Rifflandia 6 Day 1 review: Braids at the Metro Studio

Braids set Rifflandia’s musical bar insurmountably high with Thursday night's performance

Braids played the Metro Studio as part of Rifflandia 6, Thursday, Sept. 12

Braids played the Metro Studio as part of Rifflandia 6, Thursday, Sept. 12

I first fell under Braids’ spell at Rifflandia 2011, where they opened the show for Pepper Rabbit — a band I was then completely obsessed with. As good as Pepper Rabbit’s set was that night, and in spite of the sad, retrospective reality that it was to be the last time I’d ever get to see them live, Braids stole the show with their patented blend of sonic textures, peculiar rhythms, and soaring, otherworldly vocals. Braids lulled their captivated audience into a collective trance: undoubtedly, many who saw Braids in 2011 eagerly returned to Metro Studio last night for another taste.

Much has changed for Braids since 2011. The band’s debut album, Native Speaker, was nominated for a Polaris Prize, and while recording their latest release, Flourish//Perish, Braids decided to part ways with founding member Katie Lee. Flourish//Perish marks a radical departure for Braids, challenging those of us who fell in love with Native Speaker to keep up with the band’s ambitious musical impulses. Just as Radiohead’s quantum leap between Ok Computer and Kid A unsettled a well established fan base, Flourish//Perish, quickly sets to work in dismantling all expectations: at first the album seems like a cold and barren counterpoint to Native Speaker, but with last night’s performance at the Metro Studio a show comprised exclusively of these strange new songs, Braids proved that while they have changed drastically, they are no less beautiful.

The band took the stage at about 12;30 a.m.  Lead singer Raphelle Standelle-Preston later divulged that she and the rest of the band had just got off a plane from Amsterdam, where they’d been on tour. But last night’s Rifflandia performance betrayed not the slightest sign of jetlag. Percussionist Austin Tufts took the helm of a strange kit — a hybrid of digital and acoustic drums — and quickly set to work laying an intricate foundation on which a stunningly ethereal soundscape would soon rest. At times, Tufts’ kick drum pedal seemed linked to the skull of bandmate Taylor Smith, who manically bobbed his head while pounding on a xylophone and providing an assortment of blips and bleeps. The eyes of the audience were undoubtedly drawn to Tufts, however, who effortlessly pounded out precise and syncopated rhythms without even breaking a sweat: impressive, seeing as theMetro’s temperature rivaled the surface of the sun.

One never would have guessed that the first half of Braids’ set was rife with technical difficulty until Standelle-Preston complained that her in-ear monitor was cutting in and out. After some scrambling to fix the issue the band embarked upon an amazing rendition of “Ebben,” which put all fears to rest. The standout moment of the evening came a few songs later, however, with Flourish//Perish standout track “In Kind.”  As Standelle-Preston sang a mantra of sorts, first whispering, and later screaming that she’d “left her conscience in quotations”, those gathered at the Metro were disarmed by her tremendous vocal range — a very raw, and human voice in the midst of synthesized mayhem.

The evening ended with a rousing standing ovation, which brought Standelle-Preston to tears as she apologized for not having more songs to sing. Those of us fortunate enough to have been at the Metro last night carry the fortunate burden of having Rifflandia’s musical bar set insurmountably high thanks to Braids’ amazing performance; what a wonderful way to start off a weekend made of music.

 

By Nick Lyons

arts@mondaymag.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Joy Sharpe holds a picture of her late husband Ray while posing for a photograph with the Sybil Andrews painting ‘hauling’ before donating it to the Campbell River Hospice Society. (Submitted photo)
$6 painting turned into $10,000 charity windfall

A 1952 original Sybil Andrews painting donation fetches Campbell River Hospice Society a nice return

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Most Read