A&E » Arts

The time is now

Hot Hot Heat’s Elevator is going up



Who: Hot Hot Heat with Louis XIV and the Futureheads

What: DKNY Jeans Outdoor Concert Series

Where: Main stage, Skier’s Plaza

When: Sunday, April 10, 2:30-5:30

Whistler may be a great place and all but the world’s hottest, hippest rock bands rarely come a callin’.

The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, Death Cab For Cutie, The Faint, Interpol, and many more have played shows in Vancouver in the past year. Fans of the sound in Whistler that want in on the action are accustomed to leaving town.

Which makes Sunday afternoon’s outdoor concert in Skier’s Plaza twice as sweet. A lineup of three buzz-worthy bands: Vancouver’s Hot Hot Heat, Louis XIV – a glam-flavoured rock quartet from San Diego, and U.K. aggro-pop band The Futureheads will perform a free show presented by the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival. Not only will Whistler show goers save the price of the ticket, they’ll save the price of gas to Vancouver.

In all fairness, the Heat have performed several shows in Whistler in the past. It’s part of the deal for any band from Victoria/Vancouver trying to make their name.

But the West Coast indie gig tour may soon be a thing of the past for the Heat. After making waves with 2002 album Make Up the Breakdown on Sub Pop, the band was picked up by Warner for their follow up recording Elevator , released this past Tuesday, April 5.

Barely out of the starting gates the album is already garnering praise for its hook-laden rockers, what front man Steve Bays describes as "catchy, fun, danceable Friday night music with some dark undertones to keep it interesting."

While the band’s characteristic synth has been taken out of the limelight and made a supporting player, Elevator is not a departure for the Heat, building on and further exploring the Breakdown vibe.

The difference this time around is that the world is ready.

Heat’s sound couldn’t be hotter. While Breakdown was released to a mainstream ground floor obsessed with nu-metal, Elevator has the potential to take the band straight to the penthouse.

In the Breakdown days the Heat was often likened to The Strokes.

"Better the Strokes than Nickelback," bass player Dustin Hawthorne said. "They’re a good band and I really like them. The only thing is I don’t really see a similarity in musical style. At that point with the last record there weren’t really a lot of bands that sounded like us – it was like, ‘they don’t rap in the verses and they don’t scream during the choruses and there’s not a DJ in the band, so they’re the Strokes.’

We also got compared to The Hives, because there just weren’t that many bands that weren’t rap-metal bands.

"If we were to release ( Elevator ) in 2001 we’d probably be f***ed," Hawthorne added. "More likely to not be accepted within mainstream culture. But now, what’s on radio, it’s perfect."

The timing, the hype, the major label support, the real potential for rock stardom, the Heat’s story is starting to read like an indie-rocker’s dream come true and Hawthorne won’t deny it.

"There’s lots of bands that would kill to be in the position I’m in so if I even whine about it for a second I’m a complete asshole," he stated. "We’re a fortunate bunch of boys."

One of the boys was not quite as enthusiastic. After participating in the recording of Elevator long-time guitar player Dante DeCaro departed the band on his own accord.

"He hated touring with his whole body and he felt that the band, leading up to when he left, had become more of a business," Hawthorne said. "He made a decision to leave and he did it. Rather than be a stick in the mud and bring everybody else down, he decided to leave."

DeCaro has since been replaced by Luke Paquin, formerly of San Francisco band The Stradlers, who is obviously in accordance with the path Hot Hot Heat has chosen/worked hard for/lucked upon.

With an ironic nod to their album title, things appear to be going up.

Hot Hot Heat, Louis XIV and the Futureheads perform on the main stage in Skier’s Plaza on Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. as part of the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival’s DKNY Jeans outdoor free concert series.

For a complete music lineup go to the festival website, www.whistler2005.com.