Synapse can’t make real connection
Live show is energetic, but there’s room to grow
by Vanessa Gillard
To get the feeling of a live show from a review it is sometimes helpful to have the often over looked details included. Victoria band Synapse’s recent show in Calgary was one such case. Vern’s tavern set the scene of Synapse’s show on Sept. 14. The bar’s entrance nearly obscured by surrounding establishments, it’s located just down the street from the Uptown Stage and Screen on Eighth Street S.W.
The bar itself is reminiscent of grandpa’s basement or perhaps the Legion’s games room. Wood paneled walls are adorned with varieties of whole and snapped symbols signed by various artists that have come through the venue. It creates a particularly suitable atmosphere for the faces you’ll find there.
The place was actually quite full on this night for a hump day, and the crowd milled around drinking and chatting while the first band, Illuminated Minerva, played their version of progressive metal. The band’s distinct lack of lyrics confused me, but didn’t seem to bother anyone else. In fact, people seemed more inclined to socialize while Illuminated Minerva droned out their heavy yet synthy sound.
Going upstairs into the back alley for a smoke, I found Synapse’s RV that they had arrived in from Victoria, where they hail from. Some guy claiming to be their manager, and who I later found out was the roadie, weaved some yarns about “life on the road.” As it turns out, you can check out some videos of the band on the road on their site that are pretty entertaining.
Back inside, Synapse took the stage and the crowd immediately perked up. Before long, the band’s influences like Tool and Alexisonfire quickly becomes apparent. As a quartet they began fairly loose and the rhythm section was the stand out at first, but it’s obvious they are a very competent and technically talented foursome as they delve further into their album. Their lyrical style is wounded and dismissive, but the lyrics do not necessarily coincide with the lead singer’s longing. Much of the message seems shallow and typical in terms of loneliness and the usual break up narrative.
The dual guitars seem muddled at times, however, this could have been a sound issue. Vern’s acoustics are likely less than ideal, but the lead and rhythm played precisely and the changes were on point overall.
Synapse was really fun and engaging. Jumping around and making eye contact with the crowd undoubtedly helps the band connect with their audience.
It would be interesting to see Synapse again, just to get an idea of whether their live performance is usually all over the place. It seems like they could probably have invested some more time in creating a live dynamic.