If I were the Besnard Lakes I’d probably be convinced that Los Angeles was cursed. It’s bad enough that the city of Angels spawned the celebutante Cerberus of Hilton, Richie, & Lohan. But to add insult to injury (or as we say in LA, to fake tan on top of a sunburn) my hometown has failed each time that The Lakes have decamped from the Canadian tundra to bring us their brand of Beach Boys meets Pink Floyd psychedelia.

In March, when the five-piece made their initial LA bow in support of their Polaris Prize-nominated and frighteningly good sophomore record, The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, the band started brilliantly, blazing through scorched-earth renditions of “Disaster” and “For Agent 13,” before being cut off by the Echoplex sound man after just four songs. Fine for a small-time local outfit, but not for one of 07’s most promising and critically acclaimed outfits, a group that traveled thousands and thousands of kilometers from Montreal home to remind Americans that decades after critics predicted its demise, fog machines still look really really awesome at rock shows.

But their show last Friday night at the Troubadour should’ve been different. Surely word had gotten out about the sheer awesomeness of the Lake’s live set, or at the very least checked out an album that one stoner-rock loving soul named the 4th best of the half-year. Sadly, the Besnard Lakes were up against something bigger than just notorious Angeleno apathy: namely God. Specifically, the fact that not only did the show occur on one of LA’s five yearly rain days, but happened to conflict with the opening night of Yom Kippur. Of course, that might’ve played out fine in Silverlake or Echo Park. But this is the Westside., a place 87.4 percent of the populace is Jewish (maybe), a place where even the dogs are named Murray.

The Besnard Lakes: Better Than Lake Michigan, Lake Erie, & Land O’ Lakes


But despite the fact that the Troubadour was almost eerily empty, The Lakes turned in absolutely stellar performance. As Duke pointed out, “They completely immersed the audience in sound. They’re masters of the loud-soft dynamic. The show reminded me of one of those great Spiritualized or Sigur Ros shows. It was one of those shows where people rush over to the merch table for albums and autographed posters…The fans were just stunned that these guys haven’t blown up yet.”

And it was the only show I’ve been to that forced me to buy ear plugs mid-way through. At times, the band lets loose a four guitar blizzard of sound so violently loud that the walls of the Troubadour quivered. Unlike their first local performance where the band seemed slightly nervous and unsure, they displayed few jitters this time, with front-man Jace Lasek good-naturedly bantering with the crowd about being baffled by the popularity of college football in Omaha, while his wife, bassist/co-lead singer, Olga Goreas playfully badgered someone to buy her a whiskey on the rocks (successfully convincing one dude to buy her a glass of Maker’s Mark).

Displaying a sense of consummate professionalism, the band roared on for an hour and 20 minutes, closing with a headscratchingly good cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “You Make Loving Fun.” Weirdly enough, drummer Kevin Laing does a damn good Christine McVie. It was a great show from a great band, one that figures to be around for a very long time. So whether you were in temple trying not to be bored by God, recovering from Thursday’s Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem show where you probably temporarily thought you had found God , or watching the TMZ television show (god help us all), you missed out on an incredible performance. At the Troubadour last Friday night, the Besnard Lakes proved that they aren’t the dark horses any longer, they’re the ones to bet on. Even if they are cursed.

Buy the Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse (highly recc’d)

See also:

Surfing on Steam’s Interview with Jace Lasek (Part 1) (Part 2)

Eric Harvey’s Besnard Lakes Story in the AZ Republic

MP3: Besnard Lakes-“And You Lied to Me”

MP3: Besnard Lakes-“Thomasina”

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