Five Vancouver Gigs To See: Hannah Georgas, Dan Mangan, and an unclassifiable L’Rain

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      For the second week in a row, the beginning of December is all about showing serious love for some of our favourite hometown heroes. (Yes, we know Hannah Georgas technically has roots in Ontario, but an extended stint living in Kits makes her an honourary West Coaster). Throw in a dude who probably shows up at restaurants in bare feet, a NYC found-sounds mixmaster, and a good, old-fashioned throwback alt-pop band, and Christmas has indeed come a little early.

      Hannah Georgas

      At the Hollywood Theatre tonight (December 7)

      A few years back, the Straight did a series of 50th anniversary gigs where some of Vancouver’s favourite acts—if you were there, you know—showed up with their acoustic guitars to play in the office lobby. If you’re curious what our favourites were, the easy answer is “all of them.” But there was something extra-special about Hannah Georgas’ show—intimate yet relatable, funny but not without moments of deep introspection. That will do as a leaping-off point for Georgas’ latest album, I’d Be Lying if I Said I Didn’t Care, the title alone of which speaks volumes about the singer’s ongoing commitment to her craft.

      A thinking-person’s pop savant, Georgas is no stranger to using her art as a form of therapy (for confirmation of that, one only has to revisit her whip-smart 2016 stunner For Evelyn). Much of the praise for the delightfully analogue-sounding I’d Be Lying if I Said I Didn’t Care has focussed on Georgas’ ability to put into words what we’re all thinking. Start, for example, with the album opener “Scratch” and its lyrics “How do I make sense of everything I thought I had?/And was/And lost.” There is a reason we find solace in the work of consistently brave artists like Georgas, whose greatest, endlessly gorgeous gift might be that she gets the joke that is life, even when life isn’t always funny. (Tickets: F7 Entertainment)

      L’Rain

      At The Pearl tonight (December 7)

      The fascinating thing about L’Rain’s recorded output over three full-lengths is the way things often feel somehow messed up—albeit in the best of ways. You know how, sometimes, you’ll accidentally be playing two YouTube videos at once on the iMac in different windows while streaming a third song on the Sonos, and end up completely confused by what you’re hearing? The magic of L’Rain tracks like “Take Two” and “New Year’s UnResolution” is that the Brooklyn-raised sound sculptor often takes sonic clips gathered over days and then manipulates them into something new. And by “new,” we’re talking refreshingly singular in a world where everyone often sounds like they are trying to sound like someone else. Where to file L’Rain? The temptation is to bounce between New York no wave, free-jazz punk, alternative-nation drone, and psych-splattered soul. The brilliant things is that when it comes to L’Rain, that describes everything as much as it describes nothing. (Tickets: Modo-Live)

      Harbour 

      At the Biltmore on Friday (December 8)

      As genres go, it’s one that’s sort of faded into the background over the past decade, at least at the indie-underground level. There’s no denying the mass appeal of perfectly crafted alt-pop songs, which explains why the likes of Coldplay and the 1975 headline hockey rinks and football stadiums every time they load into the private airplane. But as far as grinding it out in the clubs, it’s a world currently made for A-list saddoes like Julian Baker and Sharon Van Etten, 21st century riot punks like Die Spitz, or street-level hip-hop alchemists such as RXK Nephew and Rx Papi. Cincinnati-based Harbour continues to go against the grain with its latest To Chase My Dreams, Or To Just Lie Down. The album’s title is pretty much self-explanatory—do you continue to attempt to write the era-defining movie (or the perfect ’90s-indebted pop song) or do you make “Too hard, why try?” your mantra? As for Harbour, one need only check out the crystalline guitars and stadium-sized choruses of songs like “Sleepyhead” and “Too Close” to get a read on which path the band has committed itself to. (Tickets: MRG LIve

      Dan Mangan

      At the Vogue on Saturday (December 9)

      Earlier this year, on a rain-splattered evening in February, Dan Mangan hosted an intimate show at the Fox, the night featuring the man, his guitar, and some endlessly entertaining storytelling. Tears were shed, and then shed again when, at Mangan’s behest, everyone in the room was asked to provide backing vocals for the encore. If you were there, you were singing, and goddamn was it magical. A wise person once noted that what performers say between songs at shows is often every bit as important as the songs they play over the evening. Vancouver’s favourite son, whose latest is Being Somewhere, figured that out long ago. Prepare to cry, knowing full well that no one will be judging you. (Tickets: MRG Live)

      Devendra Banhart and Hayden Pedigo

      At the Commodore on Wednesday (December 13)

      First surfacing as the trippy face of psychedelic Americana in the ’00s, Devendra Banhart deserves mass amounts of credit for keeping the faith. The world’s changed immensely since he first started recording for Young God Records with early releases like Oh Me Oh My...The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit. Think about it: when did the Republicans start acting 10 times more fucking weird than the Democrats, Crispin Glover, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre combined. On his latest, Flying Wig, Banhart sounds more than ever like a man whose favourite things include small-town Texas art galleries, the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, and poetry-collection dream sequences set in cheap ’80s Japanese motels. Co-headlining the night is heir to the desert-dazed-Americana throne Hayden Pedigo. If you’re of the belief that few things in the world are more beautiful that Ry Cooder on the Paris, Texas soundtrack, you’re going to totally fall in love with Pedigo’s new The Happiest Times I Ever Ignored. Yes, weird can be wonderful. (Tickets: Timbre Concerts)

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