Published Apr 09, 2014In their first ever Vancouver performance, Temples dressed the part of a classic psychedelic rock band. Every member of the quartet — drummer Sam Toms, bassist Thomas Edison Warmsley, guitarist/keyboardist Adam Smith and frontman James Edward Bagshaw — had shaggy, shoulder-length hair and a vintage clothing aesthetic. In particular, lead guitarist and vocalist Bagshaw embodied the brand of swagger established by the likes of Marc Bolan (T. Rex), his glam charm obvious from his glittery sweater and his sensual lankiness amplified by his white platform shoes and curly locks.
Unfortunately, looking the part does not automatically translate to embodying the role. They had a great sound, performing selections from their recently released debut album Sun Structures with almost studio perfection, but their stage presence was lacking a certain joie de vivre. Bagshaw intermittently approached the drummer, while Warmsley and Smith sauntered lackadaisically back and forth on their respective sides of the stage, and there wasn't much banter of which to speak.
When a smile crossed Bagshaw's face during "Move with the Season," it almost seemed out of character, breaking his otherwise calm, cool and collected façade. Their style isn't all that flashy either, riding the line between snappy psych-pop singles and reverb-laden, trance-inducing dirges that all echo classic British psychedelic tropes. Overall, they projected a young and introverted vibe.
The lack of stage presence didn't slow down the crowd, though, who packed the Biltmore on a Tuesday night. A small pocket started shoving forward during the B-side "Ankh," which had the effect of bending several people upfront over the short stage, forcing them to use Bagshaw's monitor for balance, with many hands coming dangerously close to his pedals. They maintained the intensity throughout the rest of their set, though they would eventually go in a more suitable pogo-huddle direction.
Temples were undeniably professional, though. Unsung hero Smith continually dropped spooky melodies on the keys in addition to his supportive guitar work, and the rhythm section was locked down tight throughout. The band let loose admirable, if brief, three-part harmonies during "Move with the Season" and raunchy rocker "Keep in the Dark," the latter of which was their most T. Rex-like track. Stoner-rock dirge "A Question Isn't Answered" spiralled into a paisley unknown with its organ drone and circular lyrics, while "Mesmerize" came off like a more polished Tame Impala track, featuring some of Bagshaw's most nimble fretwork.
It was moments like "Mesmerize" in which it seemed as though the guys might break out of their shells. Showing an inclination towards showmanship as their encore wound down with a rendition of the sunshine pop ditty "Shelter Song," Bagshaw held his warbly guitar aloft like Rafiki presenting Simba to the Pride Lands in The Lion King, and then hung it, still ringing, from the rafters. If these guys develop a little more charisma like that on subsequent tours, they're going to lay waste.