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Alea Rae at Fox Cabaret

Saturday 06th, June 2015 / 22:01
By Paris Spence-Lang
Alea Rae at Fox Cabaret. Photo: Stephen Shepherd

Alea Rae at Fox Cabaret.
Photo: Stephen Shepherd

May 21, 2015

VANCOUVER — There is a lot of music out there, but Vancouver seems particularly plagued with hundreds if not thousands of local bands trying to make it big, or trying to make it at all (or hell, even trying to make it to a gig—with these gas prices, who can afford a proper tour van?). So what’s the problem? To be blunt… well, most of them suck. And that’s no discredit to Vancouver’s local scene. In fact, Vancouver’s local scene is one of the best in the world. It’s just that making music is hard, and making good music is even harder (which is why I listen to shows instead of playing them). Still, for all the bands that should remain in their garages, Vancouver holds a number of unknown and incredible musical acts waiting to be discovered, making the nightly hunt through hidden venues more alluring than a particularly staged episode of Storage Wars.

This is what led me to the Fox. The former adult movie theatre still holds all its original charm, bathed in red light and sporting a slightly sticky floor, but these were of no importance as the evening’s act climbed the stage. The four members quietly took to their instruments and quietly introduced themselves, as if apologetic for disrupting the chatter that filled the hall, but, as the music started, the group stopped caring about the audience — they instead lost themselves entirely in their self-proclaimed sad sounds.

Frontwoman Alea Rae’s electric folk picking delicately intertwined with the effects-heavy ambience of guitarist Patrick Farrugia, the beautiful sounds immediately catching my attention. But what set the group apart came was their depth, a depth created by the contrast of this chamberesque curtain of sound with Nick Russell’s undercoating bass and Jeremiah Ackermann’s tight and torrential percussion. These four elements — along with Alea’s sad and slightly sardonic voice — combined to create an aggressive form of melancholia, the sound of a bitter breakup, a drunken depression, and all the emotions in between.

The band, seeming so subdued as they took the stage, broke their own boundaries with their set. The band not only bared their soul to the audience, but bared it well, passing their complex arrangements off as completely accessible through impeccable execution and an intense energy. And, best of all, they brought snacks.

Alea Rae, and bands like them, are the reason Vancouverites scour the city’s events pages, looking for the real thing — true music. And the group’s ability to take risks, to combine seemingly conflicting waves of sound and turn them into harmonies, reflects this search: sometimes we can only find the right thing by looking in the wrong places.

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