On most weekend nights, Venue Nightclub is home of the great EDM overlord. A line forms down the block and patrons pour in to dance the night away. However, every once in awhile, the EDM overlord allows the peasants to invade his lair and take advantage of the posh space to drink and rock out, provided that they leave early.
The 20th of November was such an occasion. Cold rockers walked in the dark nightclub at the very tardy 6:30pm, and formed a large crowd that stuck out like a sore thumb among the damask light patterns, the backlit bars, and the plush banquettes in the middle of the room, all to see Corrosion of Conformity, fronted once again by Pepper Keenan.
Before the pièce de resistance was presented to the crowd, Vancouver was treated to three opening bands. Mothership was first to take the stage. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I had seen the Texas trio earlier in the year in Seattle and they were the reason I was excited for Friday’s concert. From what I remembered, they were great. I was glad to see that my memory hadn’t played tricks on me.
The rockers from the lone-star state have a particular heavy, experimental sound that is made exponentially better by the smoky voice of Kyle Juett and the masterful shredding of Kelley Juett. Their unbelievable talent added to good onstage chemistry and some expert grimaces from the guitar player, and Mothership proved themselves to be a great opener destined for much bigger things.
Though we had nothing to be saved from, Saviours took over where Mothership left off and delivered a set full of energy. Despite being confined to a somewhat cramped stage, the quartet was able to make the most of it, animating the increasingly intoxicated crowd with a set about thirty minutes too short, but with just the right amount of slow rhythms, solos, heavy riffs, and exemplary drumming.
I could have watched the first two acts play all night, but the EDM overlord needed his lair back sooner rather than later, so we moved on to Brant Bjork and the Desert Punk Band. Technically, the Californian musician was excellent. While his particular brand of psychedelic rock is not my usual cup of tea, I can appreciate the talent displayed by the rocker. The man can play his guitar like nobody’s business, and the band that he has rallied around him is more than competent, but something felt wrong. Whether it was the all-red lights for the bigger part of the show, the lack of interaction between the musicians and the crowd, or the very technical and static performance I’m not quite sure, but something caused Brant Bjork and the Desert Punk Band’s set to fall a little flat. The crowd went limp and that portion of the show ended on a weird note, though the mood did lift towards the last three to five minutes of Brant Bjork’s set.
Thankfully, Corrosion of Conformity saved the night. With Pepper Keenan at its helm, the band launched into “These Shrouded Temples…” and revived the crowd. Unlike the first two acts, the band members didn’t move around much, but it didn’t make their performance less energetic. With a charismatic singer like Keenan and musicians with as much talent and panache as the rest of Corrosion of Conformity, the night quickly got lively again. Playing songs like “Broken Man,” “Wiseblood,” “Seven Days,” “13 Angels,” and “Albatross” quickly whipped the crowd into shape. Drunk dancing, moshing, throwing of the horns… the floor (and my head) was sticky with spilled beer and the crowd was alive and well once again.
Corrosion of Conformity proved themselves worthy of the large crowd that had crammed into the relatively small venue. Though the time to give the beer-scented lair back to the EDM overlord came very quickly after the tar heels took Venue by storm, the band played an encore of two songs (“Vote with a Bullet” and “Clean my Wounds”) that left the drunken patrons pleased as punch as they stumbled onto the chaotic Granville street.
Written and Photographed by Kai Robidas
*edited by Kate Erickson