Review and photos – Young Fathers at Venue, Vancouver, Nov 17 2018
– review by Taisuke Tanimura/photos by Pavel Boiko
Young Fathers weren’t in Vancouver to make friends on Saturday night. On tour to support their 2018 album Cocoa Sugar, the Scottish trio of Graham “G” Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole played a powerful set that was light on audience interaction but huge on impact.
The band has always been a unique marriage of pop and experimental modes. Although Cocoa Sugar attempts to employ more structure to their songs, the results are still far from the mainstream.
Ever restless, the band continues to push into new and exciting territory in their live shows as well. A new song sounded almost like disco, but with wobbly and off-kilter bass. They reworked older songs like “Low” and “Old Rock ’n’ Roll” with more muscular rhythms that translated well live. Percussionist Steven Morrison was a powerhouse, pounding away at the drums while the rest of the group ran riot over the grooves.
Photos–Young Fathers at Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver, 2015
Photos–Young Fathers at the Showbox, Seattle, 2018
And what a spectacular riot it was. Starting with the techno thump of “Wire”, the group treated the sold-out Venue crowd to an hour of tribal rhythms and punk snarls. Bankole in particular stood out, kicking Morrison’s cymbals, cuddling up to Hastings, and whirling around the stage like a man possessed. Hastings was more subdued, staring blankly into the crowd as he leered over his mic. Massaquoi was a commanding presence on stage too, handling vocal and drum duties with swagger.
There were flashes of warmth under all the serious affectations. There was a brief call and response with Hastings, where he sang one long note and invited the crowd to respond. The audience was more than happy to show their love, causing Hastings to tell the crowd that they have been the best of the tour. And Massaquoi was overcome with a fit of laughter mid-verse when Bankole stole the spotlight by taking his shirt off.
But there was still no real effort at crowd-pleasing, even at the end. After ending their set with “Shame”, they walked off the stage leaving behind a loud throbbing drone. Despite the crowd cheering for an encore, the houselights came on and that was it. No thank yous, no nothing. Just an abrupt end and a feeling that you witnessed something special.
Algiers opened the show. The American group also has a strong experimental streak to them, although they often hew much closer to traditional song structures. Their second album The Underside Of Power dropped last year.