The Besnard Lakes
The Garage, London
19th August, 2010

The Garage is the type of venue you want to see bands in. The room is not too big but the sound system is. The bar is at the opposite end to the stage so you’re not getting shoved constantly by people in search of their next drink. The room feels immediately comfortable, even strolling in only a few minutes before the announced set time. A few minutes in and the cracklings of distant AM radio and e-bowed guitar of “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent” was filling the space.

Given the massive sound present on The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night, there was some anticipation in how the band were going to pull this off as a four piece. With the newer tracks being a lot denser and harder to recreate live without either a 10 piece line up or a maze of effects and loop pedals, assistance came via laptop, which helped embellish the sound and keep true to their recorded material. Leading man/guitarist Jace Lasek’s voice also had a lot to do with this; the man is pitch-perfect with the lungs of a bear and a falsetto that Brian Wilson would be proud of. Looking like a cowboy version of Brendan Fraser’s character in “Encino Man” – pre-make over, Lasek was endearing, mixing onstage manoeuvres straight of an ’80s metal band’s catalogue with that type of introspective shoe-gaze “vacant stare” with ease.

There were a smattering of new songs first up, “Glass Printer” and “Albatross” rumbled heavily through The Garage’s beefy system, coming off as near replicas of the album before they settled into the first older track of the set. “Devastation” brought the mood down a little and you could notice the different direction with the new album, relying less on typical song structure and focusing more on building and layering sounds. Highlights included “And This is What We Call Progress” and “Light Up the Night”, showing off the vocal talents of not only Lasek, but also wife Olga Goreas, and the perfectly placed “Disaster” giving everyone in the audience a chance to sing along after hearing one of the longest guitar fuzz solos in history.

Coming out for a surprise second encore as the crowd were filing out, a quite vocal lady was granted her request for “Life Rarely Begins with Tungsten Film” from their so-far untouched first album, Lasek remarking cheekily that he didn’t know how “Tungsten” would sound so he only wanted the die-hard fans to hear it. As if suddenly overcome by nervousness, a smoke machine roared into action enveloping the band (and the front 3rd of the room) with smoke. The audience listened on, struggling to see a few inches in front of them, which gave a very surreal end to a very great gig. With the way the album titles are being named, it will curious to see how the next one is going to come out. Future prediction – The Besnard Lakes are the Fucking Bomb.

Steven Edson