Review and Photos – Freak Heat Waves at Green Auto, Vancouver, Jul 29 2023
When I heard Freak Heat Waves’ new single “In A Moment Divine” it immediately caught my ear. The sunny production coupled with Cindy Lee’s melancholy vocals took me straight into my feels and I had it on repeat for almost an hour. That led me to the latest album by the Canadian duo, Mondo Tempo, which is full of tracks that are just as good or better. My streaming-induced short attention span has made it harder to appreciate entire albums, but I’ve been listening to Mondo Tempo top to bottom at least once a day for almost two weeks. It’s a woozy blend of Balearic, dub and trip-hop that expands on their post-punk and new-wave leanings. When I saw Freak Heat Waves and Cindy Lee were co-headlining at Green Auto on Saturday I had to check them out.
It was a perfect summer evening, so the outdoor venue was very welcome. Green Auto is a small DIY space lined with shipping containers tucked away in an alley. It feels like you’ve walked into a secret party.
Cindy Lee (aka Patrick Flegel) played the first headlining set, taking the stage in a shiny gold dress, fur-lined white jacket and killer white boots. Their set didn’t have any of the more experimental stuff, focusing on their 50s pop-inspired songs instead. There was a kind of wabi sabi, tragic vibe to the performance in the best possible way. Between the amazing clothes, the harsh spotlights and the music, it felt like a Twin Peaks fever dream.
Freak Heat Waves followed shortly after, playing a set that worked through every track on Mondo Tempo. From the sax skronk of “The Time Has Come”, to the ghostly diva wails of “Off My Mind”, every sample felt just right. It takes skill and restraint to choose the few elements that take a track from “cool” to “wow”. The pair, consisting of Steven Lind and Thomas Di Ninno, were mostly content to let the tracks shine without too much noodling, only adding the occasional splash of delay to spice things up. Di Ninno’s deep baritone was the secret weapon, coating everything with a sheen of unease. His ominous lyrics, “I won’t stand in your way / If you’re not in mine” delivered in a deadpan were both amusing and menacing.
Big City opened, with DJ Mela Melania holding it down in between sets.
More Freak Heat Waves at Green Auto photos: