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Holy Smokes Presents Painted Fruit/Johnny De Courcy/Dada Plan at Upstairs Cabaret
By Alba Clevenger

It was a good night for weirdoes at the Painted Fruit, Johnny De Courcy, and Dada Plan show at Upstairs Cabaret on Friday, March 19th.

Victoria’s own Painted Fruit looked like they stumbled onto the stage from different eras: Evan was sporting ‘traditional’ Fruits style with leather pants, a mesh shirt, and black lipstick, Ben was doing a really good job of channeling Dudley from The Royal Tenenbaums, Noah had a hairnet on looking like he was ready to serve lunch to middle-schoolers, and Jon looked—relatively—normal. They mingled older songs “GRK” with new unreleased songs “Kitchen of Love,” but tone and feel remained continuous, low fuzzy vocals punctured by crisp angular riffs. A favourite of the local scene, the energized set was well applauded (despite some disorganization) and the dance floor was well populated by the end.

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Any stragglers who decided to show up to Upstairs Cabaret early were immediately seduced by Johnny De Courcy’s pop-rock blend. He sang vocals to pre-recorded songs from his Master Manipulator EP and shredded the acoustic guitar to older tracks like “Cherry Lane.” What made Johnny De Courcy most captivating is the skill with which he walked the line between sincerity and sarcasm. He alternated between confessing to his existential crisis and then joking about it by screaming into the mic. These moments of authenticity expertly blended with emotionally exaggerated showmanship and left me wondering if they were ever there at all. It was like watching a well-choreographed meltdown… or Bowie on coke. His theatrically excessive performance and rock star showmanship filled the space as he rolled spastically on the floor, paced the front of the stage, kissed someone’s hand and jumped into the crowd; he even had an audience member hold the mic while he sang. People were reaching out to touch him and yelling “I love you,” “You’re fucking amazing,” and “take your clothes off!” He eventually complied and took his shirt off during the sexy sax solo on the last song, “Master Manipulator.”

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Dada Plan consists of a large synthesizer, an electric guitar, heavily processed vocals, and a saxophone all backed by bongos. The layering of the synth/sax/guitar/vocals blended into one indistinguishable instrument that danced among the higher frequencies, while the bongos stood apart in a dissonant yet grounding way. The Vancouver band’s comparatively down-tempo brand of psychedelic rock somewhat clashed with Johnny De Courcy’s emotionally exaggerated set and Painted Fruit’s upbeat post-punk. It took a few songs but the audience eventually cooled off enough to settle into a trance-like groove.

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Painted Fruit will be both opening for and backing Johnny De Courcy in their upcoming cross-Canada tour. The kickoff show will be on April 29th at the Rickshaw with Dada Plan.

** Photos taken by Trevor Ball (http://www.trevorball.com/home) **

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