By Ziggy Merritt
In the latter half of 2017, the Vancouver four-piece, The Belle Game pulled out a masterwork of a pure pop album. Following from their debut LP in 2013, that sophomore effort Fear/Nothing is easily their strongest and most consistent work after close to a decade in the business. After hearing from vocalist Andrea Lo a little more than a week ago on this latest tour in support of the album and what went into the recording, I was more than a little excited to finally see and hear what they could bring to the table live.
The opener, cheeky brought the first waves of excitement to the crowd, turning in a performance that showcased a brand of experimental pop in tune with the vibe The Belle Game would bring to the stage later that evening. Cheeky is the side project of local talent, Kaylee E. Sabatino whose sound appears to take bits of inspiration from Grimes and Purity Ring with more ambient space filling out the echoey vocals. Developing that inspiration, wherever it may have come from, into something unique and purposeful, Sabatino’s set, though occasionally thrown a wrench due to some technical difficulties, started the night strong.
A scant fifteen minutes passed before the headlining act elevated the evening. Taking a brief moment to look back at the album that ignited this recent leg of touring, the success of Fear/Nothing comes down to its authenticity. The Belle Game imbues their digitized and synthetic orchestrations with life. A lack of factory-like production yet with the same hi-fidelity standards made this latest album shine. As a result, the ensuing translation of that from studio to stage, and in such an intimate setting is something appropriately magical to behold.
As a disclaimer, I try not to overstate things when I review something live. Stating the facts of the evening with a bit of zazz thrown in is typically my jam, but standing not much more than a foot away from the stage while Lo belts out vocal acrobatics on tracks like “Spirit” and “Yuh” is one of the more inspiring things to happen to me so far in this brave, new, and occasionally terrifying world of 2018.
Much of that came down to the infectious enthusiasm Lo and the rest of the band projected through their set. Lo urged the crowd to get closer, to leave their worries at the door, to disconnect, and just enjoy the fucking show. Musical Catharsis is how she described the sound that was brought forth in the sessions that brought us Fear/Nothing. Taking that at its most literal, if there ever was an objective set out by the band other than to just play a rad show, it would likely be to share a healing and almost spiritual connection with their audience.