Distances West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg MB, August 17

Distances West End Cultural Centre, Winnipeg MB, August 17
Photo: Deborah Remus
Sunday matinee shows aren't a common thing, but that didn't stop Winnipeg punk group Distances from giving one a go and sounding great despite the smaller turnout. Things started off strong with "Apprehensive," which appears on the Boulders EP the band released in February. They also busted out "Heavier Than You Know," which remains one of its better songs with its catchy chorus and memorable breakdown. During the whole set, Distances remained confident and energetic, especially vocalist Dylan James, who was all over the stage, sticking his mic into the crowd so people could shout along. The guys gave it their all even though they weren't exactly playing to a packed room on a Saturday night.

Overall, the band seem to improve with every show, something that should be obvious to anyone who has been following since 2012. There have been a few changes — only guitarist Florian Maier and bassist DJ Sangalang remain as original members — but it must be for the best, because Distances just keep getting better and better. The band will release their debut full-length, Peaks/Valleys, next month, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues. Unlike many local bands, Distances don't just rip off their influences, and if anyone has the potential to break out of Winnipeg, these guys remain a good bet.

Of the three opening acts, Art Vandelay was the one which showed the most promise that afternoon. The younger band just released its debut EP, Dull, back in February, penning five songs that sound like a mix between La Dispute and Title Fight. The band wasn't as energetic as it was opening for Latka during a Saturday night in May, but that's probably because the crowd was much smaller and there really wasn't much of an opportunity for vocalist Nick Gammon to crowd surf, even if he really wanted to. The band still sounded good, though, pulling off tunes like "Bliss" perfectly in the live setting.

Really the only downside was that the venue, which is a nice place, was just too large for an intimate matinee show like this. It's cool to see the West End Cultural Centre be supportive of the local punk scene, but it felt eerily empty and seems to be a better fit for established touring bands such as Against Me!, who sold out the 380-capacity building back in April.