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Chad VanGaalen Live at Commonwealth

Thursday 08th, February 2018 / 16:47

By: Michael Grondin

Chad VanGaalen by Michael Grondin

Chad VanGaalen by Michael Grondin

Commonwealth Bar and Stage

January 25th, 2017

CALGARY– It’s a special thing seeing Chad VanGaalen play live in our collective hometown. Having going to live shows in this city for just over 15 years, I’ve only see him play four times (one time with a fake ID).

And most of us Calgarian music nerds know every in, every out, every up and every ‘shapeshifting’ moment of Chad’s wonderfully weird catalogue. However, seeing these songs live, and singing along in a sold-out club, takes his music to a whole new level.

Commonwealth Bar and Stage was buzzing as soon as the doors opened; people piled up in anticipation at the front of the stage an hour before even the first act, Halifax’s avant-jangle-pop masters Mauno, took to the stage.

Mauno by Michael Grondin

Mauno by Michael Grondin

And when they did, we got to witness their curious approach to guitar, bass and drums. Key change after key change, melodies sliding into madness, and tempo changes essentially made each song six in one, and this mesmerizing four-piece does it with such precision and care.

Then we get Chad, and his Bleach Wipes, a dream team of powerhouse musicians with Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, etc.) on drums, Scott Munro (Preoccupations, etc.) on guitar and Ryan Bourne (Sleepkit, etc.) on bass. I heard a joke that they are the Mount Rushmore of Calgary’s music scene.

And oh was it ever a warm and sentimental evening. Looking out at the audience, everyones lips moved in sync with Chad’s newest and oldest songs. And the Bleach Wipes descended into pure melodic chaos — rattling distortion, heart-gripping bass, and jazzy drums — around Chad’s voice gripping us like a big weird hug.

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