Moon Duo at the Biltmore Cabaret

Ripley Johnson with Moon Duo Vancouver concert photo

Ripley Johnson with Moon Duo at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Dec 7 2012. Kirk Chantraine photo

Photos – Moon Duo at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Dec 7 2012

– photos by Kirk Chantraine

Though now based in Colorado, Moon Duo follows in a long tradition of San Francisco psychedelia.

True to their name, the band is a duo, consisting of Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada. The Blue River-based twosome is touring to promote Circles, a psyche-drone long-player that follows in the trance-y footsteps of the band’s 2010 debut full-length Mazes and a few EPs. They stopped in at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver Friday night towards the end of their 2012 tour. (They play Seattle tonight, Dec 8.)

Sanae Yamada with Moon Duo Vancouver concert photo

Sanae Yamada with Moon Duo at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Dec 7 2012. Kirk Chantraine photo

The sound is psyche-drone-rock perfection, guitar and synth that glide along programmed beats and buried (especially live; you might be able to make out the odd phrase in the recordings, if you care to) vocals. Johnson provides most of the singing, Yamada joins in on choruses, such as they are.

They strike an odd pair, the exotic beauty with indie-rock bangs and face lost in her long hair as she turns on the beats and hits a few keys, the greybeard on guitar. The set had peaks and valleys and we watched from the side, but for Circles’ “Free Action”, the last song of the set (before the encore), I stood in front of the p.a. and was lost in the 10-minute drone-rock maelstrom.

Circles‘ producer Phil Manley of Maryland instrumental rock group Trans Am was one of two openers (the other was Mirror Lake, whom we did not see) under the guise of another duo, Life Coach. The band featured Manley on guitar and effects and a drummer. Much of Life Coach’s set sound like intros to songs, but some fully-formed instrumentals also worked their way out of the din, and the addition of a live drummer to the psyche-rock was welcome, and powerful. In all, a suitably trippy opener for Moon Duo.

Kirk Chantraine

About Kirk Chantraine

Kirk Chantraine is a Canadian photographer and software developer currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia. He graduated from Vancouver Film School for 3D Animation in 2004 and has been working in the Visual Effects industry ever since with companies such as Electronic Arts and Disney. Over the last few years Kirk has exhibited his photographic works in San Francisco and Vancouver. A music aficionado and vinyl junkie, Kirk shoots live music and performance at an inhuman pace across North America for The Snipe News , along with landscape and portraiture. If you're buying: gin-and-tonics. He is @kchantraine on Twitter.
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