The Besnard Lakes
Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, BC
The Biltmore Cabaret was transformed into a dream theatre thursday night. Fans of the Montreal atmospheric rock group The Besnard Lakes were transfixed by progressive melodies and heavily reverberated falsetto. A sensory overload amid clouds of blue fog. If you have seen The Besnard Lakes live you know that the kind of performance both visually and audibly that Jace Lasek, wife Olga Goreas, Kevin Laing and Richard White bring is unlike most. The band’s music is powerful and at times bittersweet. Songs are woven together into a singular psychedelic aura. An aura that gives life to a spectacle that leaves fans completely captivated.
The band is touring in support of their latest album; Until In Excess, ImperceptIble UFO. Aside from having arguably the worst title in music history, the record (the fourth for the Lakes) is grandiose and meaningful even while songs’ meanings are at times difficult to decipher. Dreamy spatial synths, Choirs belting out heavenly harmonies and progressive crescendos like the sunrise all feature heavily on a collection of music that for all its weirdness is surprisingly easy to digest.
While The Besnard Lakes put forth a terrific live performance on this night it must be said that the calming quality of their music allows for broad appreciation. It is easy to imagine taking in People Of The Sticks (off their latest release) and cruising down the Coquilhalla Highway much in the same way as it is easy to envision listening to the soaring Albatross (off the Polaris Prize nominated The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse) while struggling up a stair-master. The band’s sound elicits a great deal of emotional imagery so while lyrics may be indiscernible or form confusing, like much great art, it is difficult to detach from an overall aesthetic quality.
One endearing attribute from Thursday’s live show was the interplay between husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. Lasek and Goreas seemed possessed on stage by creative energies. In a setting where synergy and connectivity is vital to making a lasting impression and giving a memorable performance, Lasek and Goreas share a complete commitment to their music making mission. Their spellbinding performance and fixation on rocking out was to this observer endlessly entertaining.
Perhaps not the best example of radio-friendly rock. Probably not the classic construct of what today is considered popular sounding music. But undeniably, The Besnard Lakes make art that leaves its mark. They are one of few acts I can say with some certainty that when going to see them live, even without having prior association or familiarity with their music, you will be enthralled.
Greg Kot; columnist for The Chicago Tribune wrote of The Besnard Lakes a few years back, “Right Now no one is making music this grand, this big, this moving with so much assurance.”
Once you give them your ears and your eyes, The Besnard Lakes are hard to ignore.
+ Gavin Reid