There has been much talk about Toronto wanting to be known as a Music City. Arguments abound that we have always been one and heated exchanges erupt when ideas are shared about how to ensure that we keep the live music scene vibrant, accessible and successful. Well, a triple bill that started at 8:45 pm on a Maple Leafs playoff game night could have been challenging but the mighty rock fans of Toronto made a hell of a save for this hat-trick of bands!
An all Canadian (well almost) bill of Crown Lands, The Lazys (⅗ of the band now call Toronto home) and The Wild! was a show we were eager to check out as we have seen all these bands play live before and wanted to see how they are progressing or evolving. Lee’s Palace is fast turning into one of my fave spots to see a show as there are nicely placed vantage points and an elevated stage so you can actually see the bands!
Crown Lands is Kevin Comeau (guitar and keyboards played by foot!) and Cody Bowles (vocals and drums), a duo from Oshawa who play what is being called psych blues rock and whose sound is impressively full and loud. The first time I saw them play I was scouring the stage for where the rest of the band was! They look like they just time traveled from the 70s but the look is genuine and not kitschy and paired with their classic rock it is a homage to the past while still feeling fresh and modern. Winners of several radio prizes and much promotion by local radio, they played a solid set and, judging by the number of people in the audience who were singing along, they are well on their way to bigger audiences.
Next up, The Lazys who are touring Canada with The Wild! On the “Nothin’ But Another Bottle” Tour. We’ve reviewed and interviewed these guys before and are always impressed by them and by the amount of sheer energy and fun their shows feature. Singer Leon Harrison bounded onto the stage kickstarting their performance. Our photographer and I exchanged a quick look as we had both noticed the “SATE” T-shirt he was wearing and then turned around and saw the lady herself in attendance. (Review and pix from her last gig here). This tour is promoting the new album “Tropical Hazards” and the setlist is a well-paced blend of new material and fan favourites and it is a party; a sweaty, up on your feet, beer swigging, sing-along party. From “All-Fired Up”, “Black Rebel” and “Shake it Like You Mean It” to “Nothing But Trouble”, “Little Miss Crazy” and “Picture Thieves” this is all that is great about rock ‘n roll. Catchy, well-crafted songs, strong frontmen (Leon and lead guitarist Matty Morris who is a trip to watch as he bends and contorts, snarls and grins at the crowd, and his signature solo, somewhere elevated and off the main stage, is a crowd pleaser), and the trio that move the rock machine along; Andy Nielsen on drums, Liam Shearer on rhythm guitar and Glenn”Willy” Wilson on bass who themselves are more animated with each show and seem to be enjoying themselves up there too. They leave us drenched and smiling, sharing “They’re fucking awesome” critiques with new friends we inevitably make with these fans.
Their catalogue is robust enough now, and their stage presence electrifyingly primed, with all the markings and makings of what are ready to become arena-filling shows. They are touring more this year, and this tour in itself one could argue that they are equal headliners rather than being perceived in any way as an opening act. Do yourself a favour and see them live and pick up the new album. Europe – Get ready they are heading your way!
Headliners The Wild! burst onstage to a packed, eager house. These guys are fabulous. Punk attitudes, punk and rockabilly influenced, swaggering, macho cock rock. B.C, Canada is growing some damn fine rock bands and these boys from Kelowna are a prime example! They played much loved “Roadhouse”, “Ready to Roll” and “Slow Burn” and introduced us to new songs “Black Top Brigade” and “Bones”- to name but a very few. Frontman Dylan Villain is the epitome of the cocksure rock star. He winks, points, mouths “hey baby” messages to ladies, poses, preens, scowls, squirts volunteers with a giant water pistol, and the crowd eats it up (or drinks it up in the case of the pistol!). The band are comprised of the gloriously mustached “The Kid” on rhythm guitar, the equally gloriously bearded Lucas “Boozus” on bass and the gun show that is “Reese Lightning” on drums. I am an absolute sucker for choreographed moves; using the guitar neck like a shotgun, synchronized air kicks, synchronized stage strutting. I don’t know what it is about it, memories of Kiss doing that, nostalgia? Whatever it is, keep doing that! I’m running out of adjectives to describe these shows; badass, kick ass, blistering, shredding, party, strutting, swaggering, balls out, fun, energetic, etc are sounding a bit redundant and clichéd but are so fitting and true! Dylan spoke to the crowd about people saying rock is dead and how we were proof that it wasn’t.
I will say a show that has your headliner only hitting the stage at 11 pm on a “school night” and on the same night as a Stanley Cup playoff game is a tough sell. And as much as we would all love to be living the rock ‘n roll lifestyle, up all night, sleep all day sort of thing, the reality is that most of us have day jobs that we rely on to be able to allow us to check out bands live and buy their merch. As a result, the crazy and dedicated crowd were treated to a great rowdy, rambunctious night by artists who appreciated the effort, and shared the late-night love. The Wild! are playing a few gigs soon down south (which is where I thought they were from originally!) so make sure to catch them! This is another band who need to be experienced live and who are bound for ever-increasing success!
Although the next day at work I had no voice and was knackered, I had the best time. Lots of articles around about concert-attending people living longer, happier lives, well that’s because shows like these are so much friggin’ exhilarating fun! Get out there and see what’s playing near you soon. Long Live Rock ‘N Roll!
All photos © DeadFly Media