It was just over a year ago when Freak Heat Waves first left an impression on me. They were supporting fellow Canadians, Viet Cong, on tour. (Check out a gallery of photos from that show.) But as this modern world constantly throws new sensations to grab your attention, the existence of the Victoria, B.C., band faded into the back of my memory. That was until I saw that they were returning to Portland to kickoff their brief tour.
Freak Heat Waves’ second full-length, Bonnie’s State of Mind, has been on the market since February 2015. An album that navigates through a myriad of post-punk tendencies, the 12 tracks can be monotone yet complex, perturbing yet analgesic, with cinematic panoramas of some dystopian sci-fi horror film. While their music owes a debt to an encyclopedic list of seasoned bands (as with any recording artist these days), it feels imaginative among countless copycats in the industry.
On stage, the trio are about as cheerful as their music. Singer and guitarist Steven Lind barely moves his slim, exceedingly tall figure, but his commanding bass vocals remind us now and then that he is not a ghost. The most action of the evening actually came from an additional guitarist present to flesh out their live set. Freak Heat Waves may not have the moves nor visual flair, but their experimental and precise music can hypnotize and become addictive, especially in the dark, intimate setting of Bunk Bar.
The British Columbians’ merit was further highlighted by sets from Portland’s The Woolen Men and Lithics. It’s not that these two local bands don’t have talents of their own, but on this night, Freak Heat Waves stood out with their superior songwriting and craftsmanship.