Vancouver Sleep Clinic
is not actually from Vancouver, but they did actually play a show at Baby's All Right in Williamsburg last night - and it was magical
. If you aren't familiar with Vancouver Sleep Clinic, they are comprised of Tim Bettinson's vocals backed by Aaron Moore on keys. As otherworldly and introspective as this band sounds on a recording, they are infinitely better in person.
Baby's All Right was the perfect venue for Vancouver Sleep Clinic's ambient yet energetic set. The Green Room in Baby's (now that I've finally been to Baby's All Right, I can join the hipsters in calling it Baby's) was a small enough space that I was able to see Bettinson's serene facial expressions even though I showed up just in time to hear him open his set with "Lung" and didn't have a chance to engage in my usual practice of parking myself right at the base of the stage. Although I had to crane my neck to see over the top of somebody's trucker hat, I still felt enveloped by VSC's light and rippling sound. Unfortunately, the room was also small enough that the rest of the audience was able to develop a healthy disdain for me as I attempted to bob and weave through the small but tightly-packed crowd to take photos that did not include the aforementioned trucker hat.
Bettinson and Moore hypnotized the crowd by playing several songs, including "It's Killing Me to Love You" - which I have listened to at least thirty times since the show - before Bettinson addressed the audience with a mildly surprised "Hi." Bettinson mentioned his disbelief over his musical success several times throughout the show, including an incredulous admission that just a few years ago he was performing for a small handful of people in his parents' house. I've heard artists mention how they wrote certain songs as teenagers, but when Bettinson spoke about writing some of his lyrics when he was seventeen, it felt like he was still very close to that process. His grounded demeanor won the crowd over completely.
The audience seemed to be composed of long-standing fans of VSC. I overheard hopeful predictions for what song was up next, nearly everyone was swaying or at least doing those little head nods to the music, and Bettinson even commented on how many people were singing along. Audience support for VSC was most explicit when a slightly slurred voice broke the silence between songs with a shouted proclamation of, "You're the greatest!" directed towards the stage. Aside from enthusiastic outbursts like this, the crowd in the Green Room must have been composed of New York's most laid back individuals because everyone was fairly accommodating of my attempts to get closer to the stage and blessedly tolerant of that one time when I accidentally took a picture with the flash on.
For the first half of their set, Bettinson and Moore were backlit by projected animations straight out of a Lewis Carroll hallucination. Standouts included a metallic rainbow basket weave pattern and a dancing circle of people who appeared to be covered in a material texturally similar to the head of a mop. This surreal light show paired well with VSC's stage presence, which alternated between lightheartedness and vulnerable emotion. Moore kept a stoic expression throughout most of the set, and when Bettinson wasn't in the middle of one of his unselfconscious dance interludes, he sang with so much honest intensity that I wasn't even embarrassed when I started crying in the middle of "Empire."
The crowd cheered Bettinson and Moore back to the stage for an encore after which they walked off to shouts of "Ten more songs!" that had my full support. The lingering impression left by this show can best be summed up by the fact that I rode a slow local train all the way home after the show last night, yet I'm still in the same good mood I was in when I walked out of Baby's.