By Graeme Wiggins
July 4, 2014
VANCOUVER — Since Vancouver last met up with the Notwist, they have released two albums and a full decade has passed. In 2004, touring in support of Neon Golden, they headlined a packed house at the Commodore. In support of Close to the Glass, this time they played the Biltmore, a much smaller venue, signalling how times have changed for the band.
Similar to the last time, when the opener was Themselves, they brought Jel with them, member of Themselves and Anticon Records founder. With hands that blurred, he pounded out a frenetic, selection of dark beats on a variety of samplers and drum machines. Bookending with a number about all-day breakfast and a “song about Scrooge McDuck’s monocle thing” (“Hypnotize Us”), his deftness with the sampler and wry sense of humour were engaging.
The room was full when the Notwist entered a stage packed with synths, guitars, pedals, and musical miscellany. In their 25-year history, they’ve moved from metal/punk through post-rock to a more electronically driven indie-pop style. Their performance, though, proved they are still a rock band at their core, drenching a lot of the songs in distortion and bringing an upbeat rock sensibility they often lack on their more produced, poppy, recent records. Most of the songs, such as “Kong,” off their latest ended with noisy jams that often verged on dub.
Although they showcased newer material, highlights of the night included Neon Golden’s “Pick Up the Phone” and the extended encore tracks of “Neon Golden” and “Different Cars and Trains.” Closing the set with the titular track from Close to the Glass, they left the crowd euphoric. Their audiences and stages may have diminished in the last 10 years, but the night showed they are still capable of great things.BC, Biltmore Cabaret, British Columbia, Jel, The Notwist