Five Vancouver Gigs To See: Katie Tupper, Depeche Mode, Slackers, and that band with pop’s biggest bigmouth

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      We get it—as if season six of The Crown hasn’t been enough of a binge-worthy blessing from up high, season six of Fargo dropped this week, with England’s Juno Temple giving a clinic in how to do “Minnesota nice.” But you can watch them once the concert schedule starts to wind down over the holidays (making sure to cram The Morning Show into your nightly couch-slouch sessions as well). You’ve got more important things to do right now, as this week’s live gigs bring us a giant of synth-pop, a Prairie up-and-comer, and the man who sometimes seems to be the solo inspiration for the Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”

      Katatonia

      At the Rickshaw on November 25

      One of the questions that nine out of 10 musicians are usually entirely unwilling to answer is: “What’s fact, and what’s fiction” when it comes to lyrics? Based on his work with Katatonia, singer-songwriter Jonas Renkse has spent an afternoon or two wandering the fjords of Sweden while wondering exactly what the point of life is. The world first got to know the Scandinavian metal vets with EPs like 1995’s For Funerals To Come..., featuring lyrics such as  “Through the bleak window of my soul/In marble halls of falling snow/Winter touch the earth undone/Embittered we embrace for funerals to come...” Flash forward a lifetime in pop-culture years, and today we’re here with this year’s Sky Void of Stars, and musings such as: “Spiralling down/Have never enough to pay/I don’t have the means to stay/Resilient.” Rather than take the Fifth, Renkse has called the writing of the record therapy during a pandemic that was mentally taxing, for, well, us all. You are not alone. (Tickets: MRG Live)

      Depeche Mode

      At Rogers Arena on November 24

      Strange how revisionist history is kinder to some acts than others. When Depeche Mode first surfaced in 1980 in Essex, England, synth-pop was music for those afraid of punk rock, postpunk, and batcave goth. Today, tracks like “Just Can’t Enough”, “Personal Jesus”, and “People Are People” are instantly recognizable to not just folks whose wardrobes are seven shades of black, but to anyone who has an even passing interest in the history of alternative music. And, yes, that includes your mom and dad, who first pledged allegiance to future icons Dave Gahan and Martin Gore back when wearing a Depeche Mode shirt to school was an invitation to a beating from the jocks and bangers. How far we’ve come. (Tickets: Live Nation

      Katie Tupper

      At the Fox Cabaret on November 28

      If there was a gateway drug to pop music for Katie Tupper it was pop-punk, with the Saskatoon native raised on the homegrown-hero likes of A Simple Plan and Billy Talent. When it came time to launch her own career, however, the Saskatoon native found herself leaning into the work of smoky-voiced chanteuses like Erykah Badu. That’s a tip-off that, rather than hitting stages looking like Avril Lavigne 3.0, Tupper is shooting for something a little more timeless. Released this past spring, the five-song EP Where to Find Me winningly combines downbeat R&B with elements of ’60s-vintage French pop and throwback soul. Classic, classy, and kind of timeless, all the more amazing considering Tupper isn’t even 25. (Tickets: Modo Live)

      The 1975

      At Rogers Arena on November 29

      Singer Matty Healy’s inability to keep his big flap aside, what’s endlessly interesting about The 1975 is the way that pop is a fluid—and therefore kind of useless—term. Over the course of decade-long ascension to superstar status, the English four-piece has sounded every bit as comfortable delivering sugar-dipped faux-boy band bon bons (“The Sound”) as it has plumbing the depths of darkwave electro (Heart Out”). The one constant, besides an ability to shape-shift in a fashion most chart-topping acts can only dream of? That would be a certain someone constantly sticking his Dior derbies in his Morrissey-sized mouth. Just ask Lucy Dacus. (Tickets: Live Nation)

      Slackers

      At the Rickshaw on November 29

      All too often, “North American ska” is shorthand for acts that sound like a cartoon version of the real Jamaican thing. That’s not always a put-down—there’s a very good reason (starting with “Spiderwebs”!) No Doubt was once one of the biggest bands on the planet. The beauty of the Slackers is the way the long-running band started in the punk clubs of Manhattan, but has always seemed like its roots are planted deep in Studio One. That’s another way of saying that, man, imagine the brilliance of the Slackers covering the Wailers’ 1965 version of “One Love”. And thank the legacy of Bob Marley for almost-perfect retro-ska albums like Wasted Days and the wildly underrated The Great Rocksteady Swindle. Get ready to dance, knowing no one will be sitting in the Rickshaw seats for this one. (Tickets: Modo Live)

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