Imaad Wasif At Gold Diggers, Friday July 6th 2018
Imaad Wasif is a mystic, his approach to music is the opposite of casual, when he plays, he draws a mysterious white sign on his forehead, and the very somber ambiance inside Gold Diggers participated to this mysticism.
Last time I saw Imaad he was playing keyboard and other instruments on stage with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Hollywood Bowl, in front of a huge crowd… However last night he played his own compositions at a very intimate venue with the help of Bobb Bruno (Best Coast) on bass and Dylan Fujioka on drums.
I have been aware of Imaad Wasif’s great musicianship since he formed the psychedelic folk-rock group Alaska! in the early ‘00s, while briefly joining Lou Barlow’s Folk Implosion. Even though you will see him playing with other famous artists and bands these days, Imaad finds the time to put out his own music, releasing his 5th solo album, ‘Great Eastern Sun’ last month.
On stage, his fragile silhouette looked strong and enigmatic at the same time, bathed in a dim gold light provided by a chandelier hanging just above the stage. He started his set with the ascending ‘God is Not a Mountain’, the opening song of his last album, giving right away the tone of the night: poignant. Although he was born in Vancouver, there is something strangely foreign and exotic to his aura, while he cultivates an unique style, intertwining timeless guitar riffs with mystery. It may have been possible to recognize a Led Zeppelin’s touch during ‘Redeemer’, but all set-long, his style was imbued by a mystifying psychedelic vibe. He was alternating between an acoustic and a electric guitar, but emotion (and all kinds of them) was the key word when listening to his widescreen music, as he often looked carried away by the performance, even getting out of stage during a guitar solo, while bumping into a few people.
‘Far East’ and its vague Bowiesque dream, was followed by ‘Astronomy’, and rock-arena guitar solos reaching metal levels. ‘I am not much of a spoke person’ he said between two songs, but no talking was necessary as the music would run free, partially escaping his composer, bringing wild window-smashing results. Of course, all this was not without revealing a certain darkness, which was for example largely filtering through the grandiose and epic chaos of ‘Dream Metal’.
Even though the set was short, the music did impose right away a very haunting atmosphere, living and evolving on its own, suddenly independent from its creator,… Just like the meanings of the songs, if the tune called ‘God is not a Mountain’ has a literal meaning – Imaad used to drive past a huge mountain sprayed with the 3 letters ‘GOD’, when he was a child and living in the desert – you may give any meaning you want to this song (or any other ones). Last night, Imaad Wasif had a natural way to transcend the undeniable psychedelic and esoteric elements of his collection of music, letting the songs exist in their own world.
God Is Not A Mountain