Written by Nora Burke.
Following Cousins‘ opening act which had left the crowd on a high level of energy, Chad Vangaalen walked on stage at Cabaret du Mile End late on a Tuesday night. Armed with a great looking box-guitar, and colourful pedal board he’d made all on his own (being the prolifically creative soul that he is), he started the show with songs from his latest album Shrink Dust, which were played very cleanly with nice blue lights illuminating the stage. Typical to all his music, the reverb effects on his vocals were beautiful, echoing throughout the venue.
Earlier on in the set, Chad talked about his wife and children who he had left behind to go on this tour — specifically his 7-year-old daughter, who had helped him customize these wonderous t-shirts — he sounded bittersweet, but the fact that he was playing with two of his oldest friends (Scott Munro and Matt Flegel, of former band Women) definitely took a load off his shoulders.
You could tell that the songs from Shrink Dust were still very new to them all, because they’d have a few little fumbles here and there, or moments where Chad would start playing a song and then realize that the tuning was wrong, but it was all done in a light-humoured manner which the crowd took very well to. One special feat, was the bassist who kept asking what song they were playing next, and would give a sheepish grin when he’d realize his microphone picked up on it.
However, things did start to look a lot smoother, after Chad got his harmonica out and played “Hangman’s Son”, a great track off the new record. While tuning for the next few songs, the drummer took over and had a fun jam with a tambourine and his snare drum, and finally, the band was ready to revert back to some old material. This was a good decision, because their older songs brought back Chad’s confidence.
During “Molten Light” everyone was mellowed by the song’s warm tones, and he sustained this feeling by whispering about travelling in between worlds. He ended the show shortly after this, and came back for an encore, in which he played “Do Not Fear” and “Peace On The Rise” off of his 2011 release, Diaper Islands.
Chad Vangaalen mentioned that Montreal was the first stop on this tour, so he may not have been in the concert routine quite yet. Nevertheless, his set was highlighted by his older tracks, his new album is a solid one, and Cousins and Astral Swans were great openers, so it was a good time all around.
All photography by Negar Nakhai. All Rights Reserved.