All photos courtesy of Aimee Zawacki

Living inside of the blogosphere bubble can provide its users with an absurd number of inspiring positives; usually before many other consumers even have the chance. This adage was on full display last weekend as a buzzing gaggle of Ninjas took in an intimately moving performance from both Canada’s fastest rising avant-pop export Mas Ysa, and NYC experimental-pop darlings Tanlines.

First and foremost, we’ve had a rapidly expanding soft spot for the one-man musical stylings of Thomas Arsenault (who by the way was the biggest sweetheart in the world) and his Mas Ysa project, and had been anxiously awaiting his first ever Denver performance on our favorite foot-high stage in the city. With no local openers slated on the bill, we were coaxed into arriving near the opening of the Larimer Lounge doors to make sure we didn’t miss one minute of one of our most anticipated sets of 2015. Then, there he was. Arsenault slunked onto stage -shrouded in drapey black fabric, black hair already lacquered with backstage sweat, and as barefoot as a hobbit- straight into an enclave of Roland drum machines, MIDI controllers, vocoders, and synths. With the grace of a lofty gazelle, Mas Ysa gently worked into an opening cut; a cover of a yet to be identified Lower Dens single, and while Arsenault’s content doesn’t scream and demand its listener’s attention like so much of today’s most saturated pop music, the young Canadian commanded the small room’s attention with a relative ease usually reserved for already established veterans.


Standing inside of a shelter of machines, mic in hand, Mas Ysa moved through a few more cuts from his forthcoming debut LP Seraph, including a minimal and Nicole Miglis-less version of “Gun” and a stunning reimagining of “Arrows” (check out our feature on the tune here), with a subtly endearing physical presence that felt part Chris Carrabba and part Ian MacKaye, while we were musically transported from more streamlined vocal synth-pop as on “Look Up” to more baroque, melancholy affairs utilizing Arsenault’s slick grasp on the gritty techno and nuanced electronic indie contained within the structures of songs like “Sick” and “Running”.

’Mas Ysa – Look Up’

Read the rest of our event review and check out some more photos from our evening with Tanlines & Mas Ysa after the jump!


Mas Ysa’s set was everything we’d hoped. Weird, eclectic, inspiring, musically complex, danceable (not at all times of course), and new. He wove together volatile vocal-led anthems with refreshing ambient, post-classical interludes and his gloomy yet simultaneously uplifting aura felt like a coiled spring, anchoring the nervous urgency of his music. With only a menial tour under his belt, we’re thrilled to see what else Arsenault brings to his live performance as his sound continues to develop. We have a feeling it will be phenomenal.

Next up to close us out for the night was an act we’ve had a musical crush on for years now, Brooklyn alt-poppers Tanlines. Coming off of a brand new LP, Highlights, we were expectedly treated to a set focusing heavily on said album. Tanlines pushed out of the gate with “Slipping Away”, and followed up with more Highlights material including “Thinking”, “Running Still” and “Bad Situations” before settling into their more readily recognizable material from 2012’s excellent Mixed Emotions long-player.


’Tanlines – Slipping Away’

All of our favorites were well accounted for as Tanlines bridged seamlessly from their heaviest of hitters like “Brothers”, “All of Me” and a 15+ minute rendition of “Not The Same” that had the Denver crowd eating from the palm of their hand(s).


While many in attendance may have missed the boat and didn’t completely “get” the gravity of two such awe-evoking performances, we were utterly happy to take in two of our favorite acts throughout the entire indie landscape. And, needless to say, we’ll be snapping up any and all of both Tanlines and Mas Ysa’s impending material. Until the next time ninjas, enjoy the music and we’ll see you on the floor.

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