On their first visit to Columbus, Vancouver indie rockers Bad Pop reinforced the notion that Canadians are some of the nicest people on this blue rock of a planet we call Earth.

Although they played to a very sparse crowd at Ace of Cups on Wednesday evening, they gave the few of us in attendance a sonically-pleasing assault on our senses.

Chris Connelly lets loose (Credit: Jacob Thompson/Music in Motion)

Not knowing what to expect from the trio of Chris Connelly (vocals/guitar), Catherine Hiltz (bass/vocals/trumpet) and Aaron Klassen (drums) made for a superb feeling of discovery as they launched into Other Spooky Is.

Beginning slowly, they built the intensity over the course of this six-minute tour de force. Capturing the spookiness alluded to in the title, Connelly’s vocals were eerily powerful and downright scary as they approached the climax of the song. Hiltz and Klassen catapulted the tempo with a powerful, ghostly groove.

The autobiographical Bad Pop was next, proving that short, uptempo pop songs will get your feet tapping along to the rhythm. You really can’t help it. And, the live version was even more energetic than the recorded song.

Catherine Hiltz dazzles while playing both trumpet and bass (Credit: Jacob Thompson/Music in Motion)

Having heard that Hiltz plays the trumpet while also playing her bass, I was eagerly anticipating Masculinity being performed this evening. Capturing a wonderful Sonic Youth-vibe, Hiltz did not disappoint with the skills she displayed while playing both instruments simultaneously.

Midway through the song, Connelly was having issues with his amplifier. Hiltz and Klassen covered beautifully for the brief time that Connelly was fiddling with his pedals, cables and amp, trying to trace the problem. There was no detraction from the power of the song.

Linda Ronstadt washed over us, it’s mellifluous vibe conjuring a late-90’s mellowness. The interplay of Hiltz’ and Connelly’s vocals were almost majestic.

Building slowly, Who’s Leading Who had a nice groove that showcased the musical prowess of the trio.

Meadowlark began with an almost Doors-like sound, before exploding into awesome cacophony of sound that was reminiscent of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at their best. This was one of the highlights of their set for me.

With a nod to myriad late 80’s/early 90’s indie influences, their version of Mclusky’s To Hell With Good Intentions, had Hiltz positively shining on bass.

Aaron Klassen channels his inner-Animal (Credit: Jacob Thompson/Music in Motion)

They closed their eight-song set with Message From The President. The opening strains of the song had an ominous feeling that built to an almost Dead Kennedy’s fervor. With plenty of sonic weirdness towards the end, they were in danger of going off the rails as the song ended abruptly.

“Thank you, we’re Bad Pop,” said Connelly, simply. And the show was over.

To be honest, they drew me in with the catchy pop-ness and slick video for the song Bad Pop. It really is that infectiously good. What made me want more was the feeling that I was listening to an updated version of some of the best songs I fondly remember from the early 1990’s indie rock scene. Connelly’s vocals fit the pace of their songs, just as the bass became an extension of Hiltz’ core. Klassen carried the beat with an Animal-like intensity. Yes, I do mean that Animal from the Muppets.

Fans of Sonic Youth, The Cramps and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion will absolutely adore Bad Pop, much in the same way that I fell in love with them Wednesday evening. They vowed to come back to Columbus, and I really hope they follow through.

Setlist

  1. Other Spooky Is
  2. Bad Pop
  3. Masculinity
  4. Linda Ronstadt
  5. Who’s Leading Who?
  6. Meadowlark
  7. To Hell With Good Intentions (Mclusky cover)
  8. Message From The President
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