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Real Estate amiable, full of surprises

Real Estate at the Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, March 4 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Real Estate at the Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, March 4 2014. Kirk Chantraine photo.

Review and photos – Real Estate at the Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, March 4 2014

– by Kirk Chantraine

The Rickshaw interrupted their usual punk and metal programming for a slightly more subdued and intimate set from Real Estate. The jangle-pop band’s Vancouver stop actually turned out to be an impromptu record release party – their third LP Atlas came out the day before the show. To add to the festivities, local favourites The Shilohs were supporting them for this leg of the North American tour.

But the celebrations didn’t start off with a bang per se – Real Estate’s signature interwoven guitar and bass riffs crept up on the crowd slowly with “April’s Song”. The instrumental resembled the steady and cyclic motion of virtuoso guitar exercises and perfectly captured the well-balanced and fine-tuned musicianship that shines on the new release.

Within their first four songs, you could notice the personal and musical journey that founding band members Martin Courtney (lead vocals/guitar), Alex Bleeker (bass) and Matt Mondanile (guitar) have been on since their formation in 2008. Each phrase of the carefree track “Beach Comber”, from their first self-titled record, ended on a quizzical note. The melodic ease and themes of suburbia dreams developed on “Municipality”, from the sophomore Days. Atlas’ opening number “Had to Hear” added on more layers of reflection and vulnerability, largely due to Courtney’s pure and sincere tone. Their sound has also become bolder and richer thanks to the addition of keyboardist Matt Kallman and drummer Jackson Pollis. Now more than ever, they warrant all the comparisons to acknowledged inspiration Yo La Tengo, as well as influential slowcore group Galaxie 500.

Read Ria Nevada’s interview with Real Estate’s Martin Courtney

Though the crowd and band seemed a little reserved to begin with, everyone was in full swing by “Horizon”. Atlas‘ lead single “Talking Backwards” had been gaining traction for weeks on music blogs and the audience was keen to sing along with Courtney on the touching chorus. The more enthusiastic souls in the crowd ran up to the front and interrupted all the calm, synchronized head bobs with some interesting swing dancing on “Easy”, “It’s Real” and “Fake Blues”. Their moves were enough to impress Bleeker though – he kept a bottle of Jameson’s close to himself on stage and looked like he would have poured out a few shots for them if they got close enough.

Real Estate’s unique personalities came through on every track – for instance, the Mondanile-penned “Beneath the Dunes” showcased the guitarist’s neo-psychedelic inclinations. But Bleeker absolutely emerged as the wildcard of the bunch; he would be completely absorbed in his intricate bass lines then get into amusing conversations with the audience. So it shouldn’t have been surprising that he returned with a giant framed portrait of Bob Marley for the encore. Except that it was. So even though they’ve settled into a definitive, amiable sound, these guys are absolutely full of talent, tricks and surprises.

Real Estate 04/05/14 setlist:

April’s Song
Had to Hear
Beach Comber
Beneath the Dunes
Past Lives
Talking Backwards
Wonder Years
Black Lake
It’s Real
The Bend
Fake Blues


Green Aisles
Out of tune

More Real Estate at the Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver photos:

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