Suuns finished their season of touring with a bang when they visited Soda Bar on Sunday, December 9th.

The show opened with a performance by Graham Van Pelt, a DJ and vocalist from Toronto. Van Pelt released his first LP, Time Travel, just two months ago. He has been touring in both Europe and North America since, with the final show at our very own Soda Bar.

Simple, danceable house beats underpin much of Van Pelt’s music, slowly building layers across each track’s length as he sings over top. The purity and honesty of Van Pelt’s voice marks itself as the distinguishing feature of his music, exemplified well in tracks like Vanishing Point. Frankly, Graham Van Pelt seemed an odd choice to accompany Suuns, but on reflection the contrast between the two sets gave the show a sense of completeness.

Montreal’s experimental four-piece Suuns were up next. I have had the privilege of seeing Suuns once before – back in 2015, when they were playing in Bologna, Italy. In the intervening years they’ve certainly gotten.. stranger. Suuns has moved further from more traditional post-punk, à la Clinic, as they increasingly highlight the experimental and art-rock sides of their style. This experimental move translated well into a live context, making for a captivating viewing experience.

Highlights included the band giving out triangles to audience members to make the experience more participatory. Or, frontman Ben Shemie playing his guitar by smashing it against his amp, almost knocking over the amp in the process. On the whole, Suuns presented an enthralling energy, manifesting their absolute investment in the performance.

Suuns’ set mainly consisted of songs from their most recent record, 2018’s Felt. There was no shortage of contrasts even within this assemblage of songs. Suuns’ set ranged from the combo of devastatingly deep, seductive beats with funky guitar licks in songs like “Look No Further.” Then, to Shemie’s vocals transmitted soulfully through keytar in “Control.” And, finally, to heavy synths and modulated vocals signaling a Krautrock revival in “Watch You, Watch Me.” Suuns pulled no punches, providing the audience with a constantly surprising, engaging performance.

Review by: Sam Gaffney