Last Saturday, Glasslands had a night of East Coast dream rock, and variations on that theme, featuring Saskatchewan, Vensaire, and Orca Orca. Orlando-based Saskatchewan was the headliner, and brought many Florida transplants out to the front row. It was nice to see the sub-tropic south represent a little in the greatest and most eclectic city in the U.S. At one point during the show, their drummer recognized a friend in the crowd and called out to him in acknowledgement. Crowd friend grinned wide and yelled back, “Hey man! Let’s get fucked up after this!” Yep, that’s a meeting of old friends, Florida style.
So the name Saskatchewan does happen to be one of the most polar opposite cities that exists from a Central Florida city, but this four-piece has that laid-back sunshine state vibe you would expect. Made up of members of a handful of different local Orlando bands who came together last year to give life to front man Chandler Strang’s ’80s synth-laden dream pop compositions, Saskatchewan is mostly inspired by artists like Phil Collins and Joy Division, and the instruments Strang had at his disposal when he started writing songs. Basically, their songs are the products of what happens when you have a bunch of synths, an ’80s hexagonal drum kit, and it’s always too damn hot outside. And it works.
Gerry (Gerry Long Hair, Don’t Care) Layug is the one who gets to rock out on a synthesizer double decker, mostly the profile of a long-haired silhouette, while Chandler strums guitar and sings dreamily distorted lyrics. Things got even dreamier when Glasslands turned on their disco ball lights, which aided in making this early show feel much later, like a foggy late night drive to the beach while listening to “In the Air Tonight.”
Vensaire, who were the Brooklyn hosts, went on right before with their own eclectic freak folk pop set. What was nice about these guys was that four of the five members took the lead at some point, making them seem like a band who shares songwriting equally, and their output is the direct result of every member’s input. They also looked like they shared equal wardrobe input, and shopped at the same boutique specializing in 60s mod bohemian ensembles – which they actually all pulled off rather well, especially lead guitarist Rob Thomas. As a whole, Vensaire seems to be a band with much more creative output to come, and they will only get weirder in the most interesting ways.
Opening the show was Orca Orca from the Boston area, who had a more straightforward youthful punk energy. As far as I can tell their music has more to do with repetition than with whales, except maybe some echo (location) effects on front man Jimmy Hewitt’s vocals. The whole band has a spunky, let’s get wild at a house party feel with a lo-fi 90s vibe. They’ve got an EP you can listen to and download.
You can also snag some Saskatchewan tunes on their Bandcamp, and check the rest of their tour dates on Facebook. Vensaire has a handful of songs they recently released, and another Brooklyn show at Public Assembly on December 9.