Despite the unexpected return of harsh wintry weather, those who attended The Zolas’ show on Thursday night at Lee’s Palace found themselves coping just fine with nature’s fickle change of forecast, the cozy confines of the venue a safe haven from the bitter freezing rain.
Opening were local band Grounders, who fit the bill nicely with their amalgam of breezy, laid back electro-jams and dissonant bangers. The set was split fairly equally between mid-tempo songs and more upbeat ones, each with distinct sensibilities. Shimmering synth lines wove in and out of florid melodies during the slower jams, bringing to mind a version of Real Estate if that band threw a couple of keyboards into the mix. The faster tracks were more reminiscent of fellow Toronto band Hollerado if they incorporated kraut-rock and shoegaze into their brand of jangly indie pop.
The Zolas followed with a set not too dissimilar from Grounders, but with a few differences that can be clearly attributed to the West Coast scene the band sprung from. Indeed, shades of Mother Mother and Said The Whale were present throughout the songs. Shambling piano riffs and an irreverent alt-pop attitude ignited the stage, bolstered by frontman Zachary Gray’s irrepressible strut. But there was a deeper, cosmic aspect to the music also, drawing from the same well as Silversun Pickups (also from the west coast, albeit a bit further south). An extended ambient intro set up hit single “Molotov Girls”, and songs like “Ancient Mars” explored themes not usually examined by indie-poppers. These tangents were balanced with more straightforward fare like “Invisible” and “Swooner”, but all material drew a huge response from the crowd, who knew the words to every single song- sometimes to the band’s surprise.
The devoted fans were rewarded with an encore and returned to face the crummy weather unfazed and defiant. Zolas: 1, Bad Weather: 0.
– Dusty Lalas, @dustylalas