Live Review: Girlpool + Vagabon @ Rock & Roll Hotel, 6/11/17

Intrepid mysterious Special Guest Star The Paper went in search of good live sounds, and the following is what transpired when he took in Girlpool and Vagabon at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Sunday night marked a departure for Laetitia. She had been on tour with Tegan and Sara and I could sense the longing in her voice as she told us about the balloons the dynamic Canadian duo had on stage. Then she burst into a wide smile before continuing, "...but you're here."

That was a very cute way to get the sold out crowd cheering. I had seen Vagabon, Laetitia's musical moniker, twice before. She was solo both times so I was pleasantly surprised that this time she brought a band. There's an undeniable pleasure riding on a roaring bass line while soaking in shattering drum beats. It added much welcomed energy and a fuller dimension to the sound that further highlighted what we already knew. Laetitia's vocals define euphoria.

"I am just a small fish," she sang, except there's nothing small about her voice. It's not even powerful per se. It's sheer raw power. But never wild. In fact, it's actually very controlled given she would remove her ear plugs. "You're a shark that hates everything." When the beat fell off at the end, we were left with the sun. In this case, the sun was slightly bent over, head tilted up, forehead furrowed, eyes closed, sweat dripping, body trembling, throat contracting, and mouth open impossibly wide. The sun was one more fireball before going supernova. It doesn't happen.

Power, true power, is maintaing control.

And just like that it was all over. I looked at my phone and was flabbergasted. Thirty minutes of bliss that felt like the blink of an eye. I can't recall the last time I felt more wanting after a set. Not even with my favorite band. Thankfully, I had Girlpool to look forward to.

Keeping with the theme, the two piece grew to three with the addition of a drummer since I last saw them. This too was very much welcomed. They opened the set with "123," like their new record Powerplant. I was reminded of the magic that is watching the music you love brought to life before you. And there is a lot to love between Cleo and Harmony. The latter literally tried making love to the former the night before. Apparently the band found themselves in possession of a mattress that kept deflating the entire night. However that did not stop Harmony from making out with Cleo thinking it was someone else. Given their chemistry outside of bed, I don't blame her one bit.

The duet between the bass and guitar moves me every time in ways I neither understand nor want to end. Throw in the delicate, barely there vocals that are the trademark of the duo and I was transported somewhere above the clouds. Except this time it didn't stop there. The deft drums marched me higher and higher until I was knocking on heaven's door.

The crowd was knocking with me, with many waving their hands. Cleo, like an all-loving diety, graciously took time to shake hands with many in the front row and high fived a few in the second. She also decided to play three more songs shortly after announcing there were but two left. It epitomized the atmosphere of this beautiful night. Part of the magic of live music is sharing it with others.

[words and photos of Girlpool and Vagabon by The Paper]

[posted 6.17.17]


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