ACTORS, a quartet hailing from Vancouver, have garnered some attention over the past 10 years for creating music hailed by the North American goth crowd. But as evidenced by a recent concert at Pie Shop in DC, the dark wave band fully possesses an abundance of rock ‘n roll chops that distinguished them from many of their peers.
Across two full length albums to date, ACTORS decisively embrace dark lyrical imagery paired with splendid synthpop. The band’s sophomore album — Acts of Worship, released late last year by Artoffact Records — showcased their predilection for shadowy substance with songs such as “Like Suicide” and “Cold Eyes.” ACTORS opened their set with another song from the new album, “Love U More,” which might sound innocent but contains lyrics “The broken glass (a fatal position)/ In your hand (by your own admission)/ Won’t hurt so bad/ To love u more,” clearly evoking their admiration of unhealthy situations and gloomy outlooks.
In a set spanning 15 songs at Pie Shop for their first-ever show in DC on April 3, ACTORS hit these deep, dark earworms and plenty from their debut record, 2018’s It Will Come to You, as well. They more or less divided their show equally between the two albums and added pre-albums single, “PTL (Post Traumatic Love)” to the mix. But the live show is really where ACTORS excel. If the moody content doesn’t seduce you, the lively and cathartic performance will.
Frontman Jason Corbett played guitar, and he moved from the hips like a rockabilly artist. With sure-footedness, Jason swiveled and stomped in time to the music, opening his body to the audience and sending out marvelous energy. He was genuinely excited to be there, and he moreover was absolutely enthused to be sharing his music with a fresh audience. Meanwhile, drummer Adam Fink was a dynamo, smashing his stick in tight but high arcs as he blasted through high-intensity tunes with fixed determination from the back of the stage.
Watch ACTORS perform “L’apple du Vide,” a track from their first album, live at Rain City Records in 2021 on YouTube:
To stage right, Shannon Hemmett appeared mysterious and aloof on synthesizer, but her vocals warmed every tune they touched. Shannon truly delivered for those of us who love the bright *wave* of the brilliant synth sound. And new member Kendall Wooding was a revelation on bass, stepping upfront to match Jason’s frenetic frontman energy or alternately dropping back to face Adam and form an impressive rhythmic foundation. For this show, Kendall perhaps was most fascinating in part because she was such an unknown, but she was more than prepared to impress.
Each member of the quartet has charisma to spare, and together they are formidable live players, harboring talents that transcend their musical niche. ACTORS have the remarkable combination of super cool looks and musicality to match, and they are very much worth seeing live. Indeed, they are the perfect example of a band you cannot fully comprehend until seen live.
Here are some photos of Actors performing at Pie Shop on April 3, 2022. All pictures copyright Parklife DC.