USS brought their boundless, over-the-top energy into a sold-out Commodore Ballroom in support of their new album New World Alphabet, a fact band member Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons seemed unable to get over throughout the night, repeatedly referencing it and relaying the general information that you haven’t truly made it in Vancouver until you have sold out this room. Quite literally hurling themselves onto the stage to start the set, the sweaty, interactive, acrobatic, loud love-in didn’t let up all night. Most of the evening’s material centred around huge beats, synth elements set into motion by Parsons between his flying around, and surprisingly-violent acoustic guitar work by main vocalist Ashley Buchholz, but there were a few brief moments of calm, most notably for the song K.I.T. Parsons and drummer Matt Murphy left Buchholz alone on stage for this one, where he began by relaying the well-known fact that quite recently he’d been laid up with laryngitis, and left alone with his thoughts for a few days. “Thoughts can be fucking assholes,” he intoned before performing this soft, intense song solo. He seemed utterly broken down by the end of it, and Parsons emerged back on stage afterwards to say that the band wouldn’t be here without Buchholz, but that song was really hard for him, before going on to also introduce the “ginger on stage,” Murphy.
Along the way through the night were full or partial covers of a few others artists’ songs in addition to their own, including Outkasts’ “Hey-Ya,” a rollicking tech-infused version of traditional Newfoundland sea shanty “I’s the B’y,” and a touching tribute to the recently-departed George Michael. USS performed a snippet of his song “Careless Whisper” after instructing the eager crowd to turn on their cel phone flashlights and wave them aloft. The room was filled with icy glitteriness for a few moments. Parsons was in and out of the crowd frequently, hopping into the stagefront pit to high-five and hug people, and crowd-surfing a few times, in addition to headstands, huge leaps and hyping everyone up with arm waving and other such gestures. Closer to the end of the show, he did a little false strip-tease out of his matching flame-adorned Adidas tracksuit, revealing a space-kitten-taco-pizza t-shirt underneath. It’s amazing he lasted so long without removing some article of clothing – with the energy in the room, it was at least 20,000 degrees in there. The bouncing Commodore floor was getting a serious workout this evening. They ended their encore with blow-up hit “Yin Yang”… kind of. That riled the crowd up to no end, a crowd that had energy to spare when Parsons demanded to know if they had one more song in them and insisted the roof get blown off the joint. But, following that massive tune, Buchholz trickled to the front of the stage to sing “Hakuna Matata.” Yes indeed. Some shenanigans involving shoulder rides, a USS flag, and many heart-shaped hand gestures were included in this extended, gracious goodbye to their biggest-ever Vancouver audience.