Top 20 Peak Performance Showcase Highlights

As part of the Peak Performance Project (which seems to go on and on without end, but the finish line is actually in sight now), each of the Top 20 bands performed at a concert showcase with 3 other fellow Peak bands at the Red Room in Vancouver.

Even though I am an ardent, avowed introvert (Say it quietly, to yourself! I’m an introvert and I’m proud!) I went to all the showcases, which took place every Thursday during September. Every band had to do a cover of a “classic Canadian song”, which led to some unexpected gems.

Vince Vacarro did a nice rendition of a Sam Roberts song. Interesting, as he had been relentlessly compared to Sam Roberts all during Boot Camp.

Acres Of Lions did a fantastic cover of Never Surrender by Corey Hart. They really impressed me at Boot Camp. Very loud, very powerful, very skilled musicians.

Aidan Knight, always a crowd favorite, did not disappoint. I thought it was a brave choice to perform without a drummer in such a rock and roll environment.

Yes Nice. One of my new favorite bands. I loved their showcase at Boot Camp. It was truly exciting. Their cover was “Run With Us”, the theme to “The Raccoons”, which will mean nothing to you if you didn’t watch CBC as a small child in the 80’s. I did, and I shrieked with delight when I recognized this song. Very unique and imaginative. Nathaniel was one of the standout frontmen, I thought.

Debra-Jean and the Means. Dark, scary, very powerful rock songs sung by an amazing voice that really knows how to sing. (And it’s not easy at all to sing properly and well) Very thoughtful harmony, lots of strange minor chords and dissonant voicings. I thought hers were the most adventurous and unusual songs, structurally speaking. Her cover was “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, which seemed to come as a relief to the crowd after several of her originals. I love music that does not reveal itself fully on the first listen. Debra Jean was very intriguing and I’m looking forward to sitting down with her songs and getting to know them.

41st and Home – such nice guys, and they did a standout, very compelling cover of “Life Is A Highway”. You’d think there’d be nothing you could do with such a worn out song, but they really surprised me.

Christopher Arruda. One of the best piano players I saw at Boot Camp (and he also plays guitar) and an incredibly powerful voice. It’s always neat to see a male singer really belt it out.

And then there was Behind Sapphire. They performed in their pajamas,

their lead singer sang into an exquisitely tarnished trophy,

they had people in very convincing astronaut costumes handing out download cards and dancing in the crowd,

and then they threw bags of feathers all over the place. Pretty cool.

Said The Whale. Crowd favorites, fan favorites, one of my favorites. They just have something together, a chemistry that is fun to watch. They did a cover of “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” by Paul Anka. They are very, very smart – they have such good, creative ideas. At Boot Camp they had a horn section playing on a little balcony up in the rafters that surprised almost everyone…we heard horns all of a sudden and had to look up to find them. At the Red Room they threw confetti on the crowd. A lot of confetti. Right after Behind Sapphire’s feathers. The dance floor was buried.

Greg Sczebel. You can’t go wrong with a key-tar. And a string section, and one of the best bass players I’ve ever seen.

Yuca. A very loud, heavy band, with a lead singer who sounds like an angel with a pure clean voice. Very impressive musicianship. And it all goes together perfectly. They did “Say What You Want” by Nelly Furtado, and it really worked.

And finally, Kyprios. His band was awesome, and they looked amazing and polished. His cover was a hip hop re-working of Sweet City Woman by The Stampeders. All the other bands were good, really good. Some were more imaginative than others. Some had better songs than others. But when Kyprios tore the roof off the Red Room, something happened. He had the whole package, I guess. He acted like he was a huge superstar and I think he made everyone believe that he was. Probably exactly what the Peak is looking for. And he had the songs and the band to back it up.