Touring is the hardest part of the job, logistically, for Montreal’s Young Galaxy. The band is comprised of partners Catherine McCandless and Stephen Ramsay, and unofficially their two children. The band can’t take the kids when they travel cross-continent, so they are currently staying in British Columbia with a relative, dropped off just before the tour kicked off in Vancouver. Their dates are limited, which should make us feel lucky that they stopped on the west coast at all, but their expectations remained low for turnout. They were profusely thankful to realize people showed up and, on top of that, everyone had a great time.
The support for the night came from LA Girlfriend, aka Sydney Banta. She had on a track jacket with short-shorts, giving her a wide range of motion, of which she took full advantage. Frankly, her band struggled to match her energy, though not to say they phoned it in, either; Banta is simply on another level. She pulled from all over her discography for the setlist, performing her newest cut, “Possession,” as well as the unreleased grunge-heavy track, “Wild.” She closed out with a crowd favorite from her 2014 EP of the same name, “Varsity,” opting to hop down from the stage to join the audience as they sang along.
Young Galaxy certainly didn’t pack light judging by the projector screen that they assembled between sets. They are an electronic band with minimal equipment, which leaves plenty of space for props and dancing. On Monday, we were treated to both: as an untethered vocalist, McCandless was free to strut the stage, while Ramsay grooved generously behind his computer-keys-mic setup. The screen in the back was flooded with bold colors and occasionally words flashed by in the YG block font. With little to no overhead lights, the focus always remained on whatever was illuminated brighter, the band or the backdrop…that, and of course, the music.
Young Galaxy’s newest album was just days old when we heard most of it live that night at the Echo. Called Down Time, it is a strong representation of the smooth dance music the band has always made, coming at a time when they have sought to re-establish control over their image. “We want to say what we want to say when and how we want to say it,” began an email I found in my inbox at the end of February, sent from Young Galaxy directly. They explained, “We found ourselves at a crossroads after our last album Falsework. We felt represented inaccurately through agents, labels, and other specialists in their fields because we had deferred to their experience and therefore their values; we just focused on the music.” That didn’t work out for them, leaving them both unsatisfied and also uncomfortable with expectations to conform their art to society’s standards. So they ditched everyone.
“We call out from our autonomous, moving point in the dark because making music is a dialogue for Young Galaxy. We’re trying to reach others, we need to know where they are.” At least they should now know that they can always reach fans here in LA.
photos by: Tess O’Connor
words by: Zoë Elaine