Sandwiched between Simon Dawes and headliners Band of Horses, who sold out the house, was Canadian Chad VanGaalen, whose debut Infiniheart has been on heavy rotation in the iff stereo for some time. We're still working on warming up to the new Skelliconnection, but luckily, he treated the crowd to several Infiniheart tracks ("Somewhere I Know There Is Nothing", "After the Afterlife" and "Kill Me In My Sleep", which got some of the Band of Horses crowd howling in party-hearty appreciation to lyrics like "you'll slit my throat and drain my blood/you'll step back and watch me bleed"). Strangely, this man has recorded one of the best, most creepily affecting songs of the new century ("Clinically Dead") but declined to perform it live, leaving us begging for more.
While the inventive bedroom-symphony arrangements played a big part in the success of Infiniheart, VanGaalen did a fine job translating the music to a live setting, peforming most of the set solo, with his feet kicking snare and bass drums. His voice, in these new, sparer arrangements, is surprisingly affecting, in modes ranging from fragile, shaking yelps on his ballads of paranoid technophobia (think Her Space Holiday meets Neil Young in a Voivod phase) to stomp-and-stammer power-pop sing-alongs (Skelliconection's "Burn to Ash").
Members of Dawes later joined VanGaalen, adding a second guitar, drums, keys, and lots of volume, but our favorite moment was the new "Graveyard", a yearning plain-and-simple folk song that benefitted from the live setting. For all his versatility as an arranger and his oddball lyrical themes, VanGaalen knows his way around a song, and we hope to catch him again in a headlining role. (Special thanks to Jenny Miller for entrance assistance).
Try to catch him at one of the remaining tour dates...
09-14 Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle
09-15 Charlotte, NC - Tremont Music Hall
09-16 Mt. Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern
09-17 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
09-18 Columbia, SC - Headliners
09-19 Nashville, TN - Exit/In
09-20 Birmingham, AL - Bottle Tree
09-21 Oxford, MS - Proud Larry's
09-23 Norman, OK - Guestroom Records (4pm instore)
09-23 Oklahoma City, OK - Conservatory
09-24 Lawrence, KS - Granada Theater
09-26 Boulder, CO - Fox Theater
09-28 Salt Lake City, UT - Club Sound
09-30 San Diego, CA - Epicentre
10-02 Los Angeles, CA - Avalon
10-03 Los Angeles, CA - Avalon
10-04 San Francisco, CA - Fillmore
10-06 Eugene, OR - WOW Hall
11-04 Seattle, WA - Showbox Theater
11-05 Seattle, WA - Showbox Theater
MP3: Chad VanGaalen, Clinically Dead
QT Video: Chad VanGaalen, Clinically Dead (highly recommended!)