Last Night: The Besnard Lakes, Woven Bones and Binary Sunrise at the Granada

The Besnard Lakes, Woven Bones, Binary Sunrise
Granada Theater
May 20, 2010

Better Than: Hanging anywhere near the pavilion at the Bryon Nelson. I hear douchebaggery is contagious.

The Besnard Lakes really know how to bring the drama. The Canadian quartet's show at the Granada Theater on Thursday night was a fantastical journey into a distortion-drenched world where the grooves are as thick as the smoke that emanates from the side of the stage and the floors vibrate with force.

Hell, the band even entered to a tripped-out recording of Carl Sagan reading an excerpt from his classic, Cosmos.

Hello, drama.

Oh, something else that Jace Lasek--who resembles a Comes Alive-era

Peter Frampton--and his group know how to bring: the rock.

It was clear from the beginning of their almost 90-minute performance that the band was ready to show off the shiny new toy they have been playing with--their latest album, The Besnard Lakes Are Roaring the Night. After opening with "Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent (Parts 1 and 2)," tracks from the new disc would dominate the night in an epic way.

Lasek's high-pitched and ghostly moan beautifully pierced the haze that the lush arrangements provided--more authoritatively than on record, even. Oddly enough, the vocals of Lasek's main squeeze and bass/flute player, Olga Goreas, weren't anywhere near as compelling in the live format. On "Albatross," Goreas was simply swallowed whole by the density that her betrothed easily sliced through. But the occasions where the couple would harmonize were transcendent in their sweet strength.

Often, when a band dabbles in the sounds of the psychedelic, folks aren't likely to associate the more laid back and atmospheric sonic with "focus," let alone choreographed urgency, but, here, the Besnard Lakes showed a great deal of tight, well-coordinated certainty, even while dispensing a heaping dose of spacey jams.

When "And This is What They Call Progress" was finally played, lead guitarist Richard White located a nice, comfortable spot inside the groove and absolutely lived in it. I mean, the guy must've filled out a change of address form for the way he inhabited said groove.

While Lasek and Goreas commanded a great deal of the viewer's attention, White provided the substance that lent each song a backbone and a firm structure from which the happy couple could soar off of.

Even the softer numbers--meaning the tunes where the walls weren't visibly quaking--avoided melancholy and never stagnated, thanks to the band's keen and immaculate sense of melody, along with their ability to fill spaces that would typically remain empty with most other bands. "Chicago Train" lulled any unsuspecting onlooker into assuming the band was taking a leisurely, pastoral stroll, only to be shaken and awakened by sweeping and anthemic wailing that would've nestled into every corner of a 20,000 seat arena.

On a night in Dallas, where everything else seemed to be rather still and quiet, The Besnard Lakes, indeed, brought the noise.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I caught The Besnard Lakes back in March when they played Stubb's for SXSW. While they gave a solid performance then, the group seemed to be a tad rushed, and they were clearly still getting their legs under them as far as the new songs were concerned. Neither of those issues were a factor last night.  

Random Note: After local group Binary Sunrise played, Austin's Woven Bones performed a fuzzed-out, frenetic set of relatively straight-ahead and raw garage-rock. The three-piece act seemed to almost be in a hurry to get off of the stage, and to tell the truth, their bare-bones set limply stumbled into the oblivion once the theatrical majesty of the headliner's set kicked-in.

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