Review and photos – Temper Trap at Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, June 19 2012
– review by Ria Nevada/photos by Tamara Lee
It had been a long two years since The Temper Trap‘s last visit to our fair city. Even frontman Dougy Mandagi seemed surprised by how much time had passed, and noted how refreshing it was to breathe Vancouver’s crisp and clean air once again.
But time has been nothing but kind to the band. Since the release of their debut record Conditions, the stylish lads have been signed to UK’s Infectious Records, prompting them to move from their home of Melbourne to London. They have also toured the world many times over and completed an ambitious sophomore LP.
The early ’20/’30s crowd looked sprightly yet comfortable in their finest vintage denim jackets and anoraks for the indie-dance group’s grand return to the Malkin Bowl. Waiting for the “Sweet Disposition” hit-makers to take the stage, numerous audience members were already making grand predictions like, “This is going to be the most amazing show ever!”
Stakes were high after the band’s two wildly successful shows at the Commodore Ballroom in 2010. But Mandagi and company didn’t crumble under their fans’ sky high expectations. And after an electrifying two-hour set, they proved that they’re certainly no one-hit wonders.
Opening with “London’s Burning” (not a cover of The Clash‘s classic) from the latest album, fans were immediately enamoured with the band’s developed and matured sound. With the exception of some heart-wrenching ballads like “I’m Gonna Wait” and “Trembling Hands”, The Temper Trap’s newer tracks took cues from Italo-disco, New Wave and experimental rock.
Their focus seemed to be more on hypnotic beats and uplifting melodies as heard on their latest synth-laden single, “Need Your Love”. “This Isn’t Happiness” emerged as another heady dance number, largely due to the intricate drum and bass lines of Toby Dundas and Jonathon Aherne, respectively. Mandagi manoeuvred seamlessly from the lower register of his voice to that trademark falsetto, all the while grooving his arms and hips with the swagger and grace of a ’70s R&B icon.
In case he hadn’t won over fans with his remarkable vocals and impressive moves, Mandagi leapt into the crowd for the post-punk “Science of Fear”. The ladies sitting on their partners’ shoulders looked like they were ready to pull him into their arms at that very moment. He rejoined his bandmates for “Resurrection”, wrapping up with a monstrous instrumental and a bit of an aquatic show. Mandagi poured the contents of his water bottle onto his floor tom, creating a rhythmic geyser with each blow to the drum.
The combination of the beautiful outdoor venue, Temper Trap’s bold sound and warm presence made for one of the most positive concert environments you could ever experience.
It was a welcome turn of events after opening band Crocodiles‘ rocky start. The San Diego noise-pop band with killer looks and fashion sense (lead singer Brandon Welchez sported a leopard print button down underneath a fitted black blazer) showed some hostility towards the show’s organizers later in their performance.
Before their last lo-fi punk track, Welchez berated an unnamed “big boss” for denying them meal vouchers that evening. The agitated frontman screamed “I’m starving you fat fuck!” until he was blue in the face. While everyone applauded the gutsy band for taking a stand, the angst and drama unfortunately overshadowed the 30 minutes of gritty and catchy tunes that preceded the outburst.
But all’s well that ends well. The Temper Trap defended their title as one of the most amazing live acts this city has seen, and hopefully some kind soul treated the Crocodiles to a much-deserved lavish meal.