Meet Me @ The Altar makes the most of a strange Vancouver debut

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      On my way out the door, I had to double-check my tickets. It felt like some kind of mix-up—but no, there it was in black and white: pop-punk upstart trio Meet Me @ The Altar was playing the Rio.

      While I’m usually a stickler for catching the opening band, circumstances conspired against me this time. I entirely missed Elliot Lee, the Brooklyn-based dark-pop artist who’s previously opened for Joywave and Waterparks. Deepest apologies to Lee, whose music mixes Gen Z angst with pastel kawaii aesthetics in an extremely-online brand of hyper-pop goodness. But I settled into my seat ready for more music, soaking in the general atmosphere of good-natured confusion.

      Honey Revenge, a California-based pop-rock band with impeccable positive vibes, did an admirable job as main support to get the crowd hyped up. “This is a fucking rock show!” hollered lead singer Devin Papadol, encouraging spectators to join the throng down the front. Along with guitarist Donovan Lloyd, the band usually record as a duo; onstage, they were joined by a drummer, with the lack of bass feeling like a notable absence that they couldn’t quite make up for with huge jumps and dizzy spins. 

      As a crowd about four rows deep loyally jumped in the space between the seats and the stage, Honey Revenge’s penultimate song “Airhead” served as a delicious encapsulation of the band’s appeal: sweet vocals and catchy guitar contrasting with snarky self-depreciation. Despite being unable to encourage crowd-surfers, Papadol managed to instigate a conga line to “Weak Knees” that set the tone for the evening: goofy, earnest, and embracing the chaos.

      Headliners Meet Me @ The Altar took the stage with vocalist Edith Victoria quipping, “It feels just like playing a school talent show!” Dressed in a plaid skirt and Avril Lavigne-esque tie, neon blue locs in two ponytails and graphic eyeliner across her face, her aesthetic couldn’t help but add to the vibe. So, too, did the members’ youth: despite the fact Meet Me @ The Altar have been making music together for almost a decade—the band formed in 2015—neither Victoria, nor guitarist Téa Campbell or drummer Ada Juarez, are even in their mid-20s. This was the band’s first time playing Vancouver, touring in support of last year’s debut full-length Past // Present // Future, and years of performing have clearly honed the youngsters into professionals.    

      Victoria’s crowd banter was charming, especially introducing a triptych of covers dedicated to songs the band wished they’d written. The cited influences—Kelly Clarkson, the Jonas Brothers, and “Take Me Away” (from 2003’s Freaky Friday soundtrack)—are unabashedly pop, contrasting with some of the band’s punkier, easycore aspects.

      “Fight Like A Girl”, the trio’s breakout single from 2021 that pulls some A Day To Remember-style punches, was presented as a celebration of women in the music scene. A squished all-girl circle pit tentatively formed during the breakdown, much to everyone’s delight.

      Final track “Say It To My Face” led to a full-on dance party, with celebratory whoops and cheers continuing long after the members left the stage. It wasn’t a long set, and the lack of encore felt fair, if a little confusing. Good-natured bemusement permeated the evening, after all; why would the end of the show have any more clarity?

      Hopefully the band will be back soon—with more bass, more songs, and more of a vibe that screams “fucking rock show.”