Review and photos – The Vaselines at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct 23 2010
– review by Shawn Conner/photos by Emmanuelle Prompt
For ’90s survivors, October 2010 couldn’t have been better if it had been programmed by VH1: tours by Superchunk, Teenage Fanclub, Liz Phair and Guided by Voices. But by far the oddest reappearance of a reanimated dinosaur from the Dinosaur Jr. era was that of the Vaselines.
A Scottish band, actually more of a duo, that formed in 1987, the Vaselines only released one album, Dum Dum, and a couple of singles. However, this was enough to catch the attention of Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain, who famously celebrated the band by singing its praises and covering three songs: “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”, “Son of a Gun” and “Molly’s Lips”. (Coincidentally – or not – the Meat Puppets, another band that benefited from Cobain’s good taste and jones for covering great songs, performed at this year’s Bumbershoot in Seattle.)
Singer/guitarist Frances McKee admitted that this was the group’s first Vancouver show, ever. It was a strong turn-out, too, almost as large as that for fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub the week before, and with (it seemed) a good deal more women. But maybe that’s only because the opening band, the Dum Dum Girls, was an all-girl quartet, thereby increasing the numbers.
No matter. Though a little stiff and po-faced, the L.A. band’s buzzing pop, a little less lo-fi and indie than that of the Vivian Girls, stoked the crowd for the more memorable (20 years I’ve had “Molly’s Lips” in my head!) songs by the headliners. To the Vaselines’ credit, their new album – they’re second in over 20 years – is actually quite good; Sex With an X has a brace of sunny-but-barbed pop tunes that sit quite comfortably alongside the songs everyone had come to here. “Ruined”, the punkiest of the new lot, sounded especially good.
I could’ve done with a little less of McKee’s stage patter – just because you’re cute and Scottish doesn’t mean you should say everything that pops into your head – but, on the other hand, it worked well enough with Kelly’s more deadpan demeanor. I’m only sorry that the only shows on my horizon at the moment – Sufjan Stevens, Deerhunter, Best Coast – consist of bands whose members are still in their 20s and 30s. Ah, well.
More Vaselines at the Biltmore Cabaret photos: