Thursday night rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of Sister Says. Walking down into the low-lit Belmont Bar, you may have thought the band was playing a hot summer festival.
The band, co-fronted by siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson, is warming up for festival stages this summer. Tonight is “like, a club-club show,” laughs Gillian, “We’ll try it out.” Professional sound quality and the chance to turn it up make it exciting. “We play in different configurations,” she says, “Sometimes just as a three-piece, more acoustic.”
The Thomson siblings are joined by Keith Sinclair on electric guitar and Max Lee on drums. They also welcome opener Emma Alves, an 18-year-old songwriter performing to backing tracks. Though young and performing solo, she fills the room with a powerful voice. Her energy is nothing short of electric, fingers spread as she one-hand grips the microphone.
Sister Says picks up the energy level right where Alves left off. After some animated talk around the drum kit, and a band cheer, they launch into new song “Full Like the Moon.” It’s a pleasure to listen as you feel every beat from the kick drum in your chest.
The band is in perfect sync for the whole set. Guitar and bass riffs play off each other, giving a forward-moving sound that’s locked into the beat. Gillian fills out the sound from a stand-up keyboard while singing lead vocal. Robert closes his eyes and leans back into the groove on bass. Every song includes complex transitions, but the performance is effortless.
You can tell they’re having fun, too. Between songs they joke over awkwardly placed set lists. Even during raging solos, guitarist Keith Sinclair turns to the drum kit and exchanges a grin with drummer Max Lee. While most of the riffs rely on a quick, rhythmic style, Sinclair is not afraid to let long notes soar during some very impressive feature moments.
The crowd is small, but Sister Says plays at the top of their game right to the end. The late-night faithful leaning on the wall can’t help but groove during the aptly titled closer, “Get Lost, But Please Stay.”
Vancouver music lovers: let yourself get lost at a Sister Says show. You won’t regret it. They play on April 18 at The Roxy, supporting Zulu Panda and Friends of Foes, and then a May Day celebration in Port Coquitlam, BC on May 13.
Photo courtesy of Skyler Santimeau, Cumulus Photography.