The Besnard Lakes @ Sticky Mike’s, Brighton

The Besnard Lakes @ Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton, November 2015.



The Besnard Lakes - by Brendan George Ko, courtesy of Jagjaguwar

The Besnard Lakes are the only sound in town

It’s a cold November evening on the South Coast and The Besnard Lakes are heating up the basement with their beautiful melodies and ethereal sonics. Kicking off the set with ‘Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent’, from the 2010 Polaris Music Prize shortlisted album ‘The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night’, the five piece from Montreal bring what their label Jagjaguwar call a “fever dream, of spies, double agents” to subterranean Brighton.

With tremelo distortion the journey accelerates with ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ from the same album. “The first two were for you. The rest of the set is for Paris.” testifies Jace Lasek, lead singer and co-writer, in tribute to the fallen victims of recent atrocities, as the band launch into new track ‘In The Forest’ from the multi-textured beauty of ‘The Golden Lion’ EP, followed by ‘The Plain Moon’ from their forthcoming album ‘A Coliseum Complex’.

The infinite buzz of the Ebowed MJM London Fuzz, courtesy of guitarist Robbie MacArthur breaks, as Kevin Laing’s drums beat the new pace. Jace showcases his new 12 string electric and Olga Georeas’ bass locks into the rhythm, complemented by Sheenah Ko’s keys, as ‘People Of The Sticks’ (from the 2013 ‘Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO’) begins. Olga’s vocals tell of the joy of finding “kindred” out “in the sticks”. Maybe I’m crazy but I’m reminded of skateboarding on “half-pipes in our friends yard”, “Oh, kindred, we just wanted to do everything”.

The Besnard Lakes - by Brendan George Ko, courtesy of Jagjaguwar

Back to the future, as the band hit us up with ‘The Golden Lion’ from the EP of the same name, also scheduled to appear on the forthcoming album. Olga tells us this is “the most difficult one to play”. You would never have guessed, because they played it like they were born doing so, but this is The Besnard Lakes. I was reliably informed by an inside source that this was the first outing for the new tracks and they pretty much hadn’t rehearsed; testament to how well this band understand, know and care about each other and their sublime adventures into music. Back in the time machine to 2006’s ‘The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse’ and the band hit us up with ‘Disaster’, then two more new and untested tracks ‘The Motorway’ from ‘The Golden Lion’ and ‘Towers Sent Her To Sheets Of Sound’ from ‘A Coliseum Complex’.

They end the set with ‘Albatross’ and the spooky, number station influenced ‘And You Lied To Me’ with gorgeous, spiraling, harmonic guitars with dissonant echoes and feedback. And it’s over, for now. A few minutes of applause and calls for more and the Bezzies return for two more before calling it a night and thanking the assembled witnesses: the epic, Olga led ‘Devastation’ and ‘Refugee’.

It’s the first time I’d seen them play since last year’s standout gig at The Lexington in London and I’m struck by how well the band sound as a five piece in such a small venue. They pull together a convincing documentary from a work of sublime fiction, each piece of each music puzzle, carefully thought out and brilliantly executed, from the voices and guitars in harmony, to the synth washes, with drums and bass locked into purposeful rhythm. You probably guessed by now I’m a fan! And you should be too.