Invading The Canadian Stage: INVSN Concert Review

Le Divan Orange. Photo Rachel Levine Le Divan Orange. Photo Rachel Levine

Several days prior I had interviewed Dennis Lyxzén, frontman of the legendary punk group Refused. His words about the visceral changing power of music, as well the dynamic of his other musical project INVSN, still echoed in my head as I approached the venue. The echoes entangled with some of their melodies inside me, resonating into excitement and eagerness. Truthfully, I hadn’t heard much of their stuff beyond their newest venture, The Beautiful Stories, having been released earlier this summer. However, with its dark moody atmosphere and combined vocal melodies, I was surprised to hear it was smack right in my wheelhouse. I arrived at Divan Orange, only to realize I was far too early. I wondered at what I could do for my time and made it a bit of a mission to find the band. I scouted out the area and I believe I found their tour van, in a lot behind the venue, but alas, no INVSN. I took off for a couple of hours with some friends.

The drinks lined up right like planets, but instead of signaling the release of the Greek titans from slumber, they brutally crushed my perception of time. The show was already starting and I was a ways off from the location. I caught my busses and brought myself back to Divan Orange, snatching up my media pass and joining the crowd. I wondered at who was playing, but was immediately answered by Dennis, with his slim black frame, mounting himself up upon the bar next to me and dancing on it as he sang. Everyone around me was yelling his or her pants off wholeheartedly. He began doing super jittery and groovy moves, reminding me of some kind of sensual malfunctioning robot. After a minute or so he hopped down and was crooning as he made his way through the audience. Everyone in his immediate vicinity was clearly trying to get close to him, something that you don’t see often at smaller venues like Divan. By the time he made his way back onstage, the band was doing their big rock ending and the song was over. I was surprised at how energetic and how tight they were.

Dennis began making a bit of a speech, going off about how he really dug playing these smaller venues with INVSN and how he saw it as them trying to prove themselves, as he had done in the earlier days of Refused. The coolest thing about this speech for me is that it echoed words he had told me in our interview. He had told me he felt far less expectations performing with INVSN, and that gave him freedom. Soon enough they began taking off into their next song. I believe it was the first song off their newest record, titled “Immer Zu.”

“Your darkness, your theft, your endless abuse, your terror, your threats. But nothing’s forever,” his two female bandmates sang out, taking the lead for this song. I remembered Dennis telling me how he had written the lyrics to this one and about the challenges writing for women, who may have a very different perspective to his. It was really interesting seeing Dennis take the backseat a bit for this song. He spent a lot of time dancing, coming in for backups once in a while. It was during this tune I began realizing the clarity of all the sound coming from the stage. It was honestly impeccably mixed. Often with heavier music you have some trouble making out the words or the bass or the keys, but everything here was pristine. I made my way to immediate frontstage and began dancing there with some other rabid fans.

The band’s style can be considered as post-punk, and the correct way to dance to it is awkwardly and energetically at the same time. Freak out like nobody’s watching. The alcohol in me definitely helped facilitate that , as it clearly did for some of my dance-mates. I reckon it facilitated a bit too much in one man next to me, who kept grabbing at Dennis’ leg throughout their performance. I don’t know what he wanted, but as a musician, every time I saw that, I got incredibly aggravated. Imagine trying to perform and someone keeps grabbing you nonstop. Dennis handled it way better than I would have and didn’t kick the guy in the teeth. After the song, when the hammered fella kept interrupting Dennis’ words, attempting to score a hi-five, he was finally told off. Dennis made an offhand sarcastic remark at his enthusiasm, and mentioned that when the guy’s band is playing he can scream and interject all he wants, but it was INVSN’s time with the mic.

They continued on, bombarding us with awesomeness, and Denis was sweating up a storm with his constant movement and his always-black, formal attire. I got him some water from the bar and put it onstage for him. “This isn’t vodka?” He asks, giving me a smile. He gave me thanks and gratefully took the water. I was happy with his acknowledgement and directed myself to the bathroom, just behind the stage. As I marked my territory, I heard all the sound cease. Was the band done? I came out, to see them emerging into the hallway where I stood, quickly speaking in Swedish to each other. I caught chants for an encore, which they had obviously planned for. I watched them interact and wondered at what they were communicating. They seemed genuinely excited about their performance. They again took to the stage and the crowd went wild.

They finished their set off with their song “#61”, with the band shouting in tandem, “A storm is coming for you,” as the intensity level blasted off. As they ended I couldn’t help but think that this was my concert of the year. Honestly, from the energetic performance to the great sound of the venue, I had an amazing time. The band made their way through the crowd, taking shelter in the basement of the place. I made my way out to continue my Monday night, singing to myself, “A storm is coming for you.”