Canadian trio Braids last night overcame technical difficulties and the wrath of Icelandair to pull off a successful show at Rotterdam’s tiny Rotown. The show saw the Raphaelle Standell-Preston-fronted trio perform to an extremely sparse crowd, picking up on the intimacy value of the show and drawing the 50-strong crowd in for an hour of dreamy synth pop, lots of which was taken from new album Deep in the Iris. Read on for more.
Amsterdam-based musician Fetter opened the evening with a short set which adhered to her description of a “pop-industrial choir of angels.” The sparse crowd didn’t faze Fetter, real name Jessica Tucker, however you could definitely sense a feeling of lost connection on the back of her short set. Braids followed swiftly, taking to the stage just after 9:30pm in front of a room which wasn’t even a quarter full. Not that this fazed Standell-Preston and co, though. Before even playing their first song, Happy When, Standell-Preston took it upon herself to explain the situation which bugged the evening some six times. Following their show at Iceland’s Airwaves Festival, Icelandair subsequently lost all of their gear and refused to grant them money for new equipment. The whole show was thus a “Frankenstein set” of different instrumental combinations which saw various technical difficulties affect the show. Following the sparse and dreamy opening track Happy When, Standell-Preston asked the band, “So, does anyone have any questions about Canada?” Nobody asked, just laughed, until a member of the crowd (also from Canada) started engaging with the frontwoman about politics. This conversation was just a cover up for the first technical difficulty of the evening, of which there were about seven.
Later on in the set, the likes of Blondie and Taste made for two extremely danceable highlights. The accompanying light show, albeit not spectacular, did manage to perfectly complement Braids’ sparse electro pop. Percussionist Austin Tufts and guitarist Taylor Smith both contrasted nicely with Standell-Preston’s unique voice, which carried the whole evening in absolute faultless fashion. Standell-Preston is an extremely underrated vocalist, her voice soaring and echoing through the small Rotown. The only difficulty here was that her guitar pedals occasionally fed through into her vocals, meaning that some verses were left inaudible and altered. The majority of the set drew from exciting new album Deep in the Iris, with many limbs flailing around the venue during the record’s more visceral and fervent cuts. Set closer Miniskirt made for the highlight of the whole evening, with Standell-Preston voicing her opinions on slut shaming by way of referring to a man as a “casanova” and a “womanizer”. It’s an ardent message to put across, but definitely one which is strong enough in comparison with its extremely eclectic instrumental backing. Swooshing synths, rhythmic percussion and Standell-Preston’s soothing voice helped the show come to an end within an hour. Obviously, technical issues did deter the band from putting on a full set which could live up to their live reputation, however last night’s show was more than good enough to prove that Braids are one of their genre’s most underrated bands of today.