Review and photos – Young Fathers at Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver, April 30 2015
– review by Taisuke Tanimura, photos by Kirk Chantraine
Young Fathers are a group that defy categorisztion on every level.
The trio iscomposed of “G” Hastings, Kayus Bankole and Alloysious Massaquoi. They all live in Edinburgh, but by way of far-flung places like Nigeria and Liberia. Just like their members’ cultural origins, their music cuts a wide swath through pop, electro, hiphop and industrial, coming together into a chaotic swirl that is sometimes beautiful, sometimes strange, but always compelling.
I’ve read a lot of articles comparing them to TV On The Radio, which is fair, but only to a point. With Young Fathers, attempting to describe their music with words is only going to get you so far. A perfect example is their song “Dare Me“, which starts as a haunting melodic ballad and swerves into an abrasive Def Jux-style vocal melee and then back again in under three minutes. This type of contrast is one of the best things about the group – their music is always on the verge of devolving into chaos, but is somehow held together by sheer energy and willpower.
Their unique nature catapulted them into the spotlight very quickly. After getting signed to Anticon in 2013 on the strength of two mixtapes, they won the coveted 2014 Mercury Prize for their debut album Dead, putting them alongside other trailblazers such as the xx, James Blake and Alt-J. A lot of people clearly felt that these guys were pretty special. Five months later they dropped their follow up White Men Are Black Men Too on Big Dada records. Last night they returned to Fortune Sound Club for the second time, having opened for Baths at the same venue less than six months ago.
The group’s ferocious live shows are already becoming the stuff of legend, and they did not disappoint. It was mesmerizing watching the trio croon, swagger and snarl their way through their set, which was heavy on newer material, but also included highlights from their debut.
By the third song, they had won the crowd over completely, and when they played their first single “Get Up” I found myself surrounded by jumping, sweaty people yelling along and pumping their fists. All members of the band are great performers, with Bankole in particular working the crowd and maximising every inch of the small stage. Hastings provided an interesting counterpoint to the dynamism of Bankole and Massaquoi, strutting on stage like a much younger Jarvis Cocker. Its been a long time since I felt so energized by a band, and I know for sure that after last night there are a roomful of new converts and old diehard fans who would totally agree.
Opening for Young Fathers was Mas Ysa aka Thomas Arsenault. Originally from Montreal but now based in Brooklyn, Arsenault delivered a set of heartfelt songs, blending techno with ’80s-inspired pop to varying degrees of success. I was reminded at different times of Xiu Xiu‘s rawness and the bombast of M83. His overtly sincere lyrics were a little hard to take sometimes, but there were moments of brilliance too.
More Young Fathers at Fortune Sound Club photos: