Viagra Boys and Pottery live in Vancouver

Stockholm punks Viagra Boys could not have had a better Vancouver debut than their sold-out show at the Fox Cabaret last night. The crowd was amped
Viagra Boys by Leslie Chu

Stockholm punks Viagra Boys could not have had a better Vancouver debut than their sold-out show at the Fox Cabaret last night. The crowd was amped from beginning to end, through perfectly matched openers Bored Décor and Pottery.

Bored Décor are one of today’s best Vancouver bands. Their songs occupy a mysterious realm between post-punk, blues, and classic rock, a Bermuda Triangle where distinct genres disappear. With livewire intensity, hiccuped, yelped, and spoken vocals, sharp guitar notes, rusty riffs, and wild, sizzling keys, all detonated by heavy-handed drumming, Bored Décor knocked out frantic, hypnotic songs including “Hardworking Man” and “My Time / I, the Luddite” and the haunting “Naiveté.”

A crowd had gathered for Bored Décor, but the room completely filled up for Montréal’s Pottery. They’ve opened for Parquet Courts and Thee Oh Sees before, and it was easy to see why Pottery were picked for the job.

Pottery stole the show with air-tight angular rock. Their precision was mechanical, but no machine could have produced such liveliness. Pottery went full-thrust from the beginning with opening song “Hank Williams” and rarely slowed down. But they did take several detours. They veered into near-funk rhythms while the keyboardist alternated between keys and tambourine. Pottery eased into dad-rock that necessitated modest gyrations from the vocalist as he sang in a husky, smoky voice about taking someone home to make love.

Beer flew, and the crowd moshed and surfed throughout Pottery. No doubt, it helped that they were playing to a crowd full of familiar faces, of friends and family. Viagra Boys perked up the crowd up too, to say the least. “Best in Show” played on the speakers while the stage was still empty and unlit. Once all six members appeared, they opened with the searing, corrosive “Research Chemicals.” From there, they barrelled through most of their debut album, last year’s Street Worms, including “Slow Learner,” “Frogstrap,” “Down in the Basement,” and “Worms.”

Among the nihilistic industrial punk chaos was sardonic humour. “This next one’s a slow one. It’s emotional,” singer Sebastian Murphy said before “Just Like You,” a song in which he expresses his gratitude about not wandering down a straight path towards suburban life and ending up a member of “this completely fucked up society.” The Instrumental “Amphetanarchy” was so entrancing, Murphy could have gone unnoticed when he gingerly climbed atop an amp at the back of the stage and hopped off just as gingerly, getting almost zero air. Before Viagra Boys’ most beloved song, “Sports,” he asked: “You guys wondering how I got this body? I spent a lot of time on the basketball court. I don’t got time going to stupid-ass fucking punk shows and shit.

I take care of ME!” He later showed how he really got his figure when he cocked back his head, poured a beer down his throat, gargled and spat like a fountain, and poured the rest over himself.

After a stretch of sax-fuelled drone, over which Murphy, soaked in reverb, muttered incoherently, Viagra Boys closed the beach with an extended jam version of “Shrimp Shack” that included bongos.

Sold out with a crowd that packed the venue from the start and moshed and sprayed beer all night, Viagra Boys with Pottery and Bored Décor was a contender for Vancouver show of the year.

review by Leslie Chu