Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shanies: Concert of the Year

2015 was a bit of a sad year for me. I say this, because I likely went to fewer than 50 shows this year... which is really something of an end of an era. Time pressures, late nights getting harder, work getting more involved... in short, I'm getting old.

Still, I tried to get out and rock out whenever possible and had some incredible nights all the same. That said, one night in particular always seems to shine through and this year, much in line with me complaining about being old, my night was a bit of a throwback. It was one of those rare lineups that made very little sense on paper - sleazy-smooth Belgian rockers and Canadian rasta-bluesmen - but executed so well, all under the high roof and expensive beers of the Danforth music hall.

Triggerfinger opened up the night and, while I love my local boys, kinda stole the show. Their drummer loomed in the background on the kit like a flesh-and-blood Animal - bashing drums with his head, eating the cymbals, having to visibly contain his energy during quiet parts - but the spotlight was clearly on frontman Ruben Block. Even though the man looks like he could be in his late 40s or early 50s (though I'm admittedly completely guessing), I don't think I've ever seen a frontman with more smooth, sexy, and fun presence. He danced across the stage while grinding out licks on his guitar that mystified the crowd. However, what impressed me the most about this set was the band's integrity. Instead of simply rifling through three minute, crowd-friendly hit after hit, the band mixed up hard rockers with slow blues burns and some long, twisted, anticipatory tracks like my personal favourite, Baby's Got a Gun. This was the best set I saw all year, hands down.

Big Sugar, being the local heroes, obviously headlined in the evening. In just under an hour and a half set, I don't think I've ever seen any band pack in more songs, and in particular, singles. As any band would, they really wanted to play and share some of their newer music, however, knowing their crowd, still had to get through their extensive back catalogue. They solved this by storming through single after single of verse & chorus... playing 2m versions of nearly every song that had ever been on the radio to make sure they whole crowd was engaged. They cut up the hit-fest with long sessions of their latest Reggae-fusion, hyping the crowd about the Liberal's impending legalization of weed. And of course, no night would be complete without Gordie's signature rock version of Oh Canada.

The night ended with an incredible encore that saw both bands on stage producing a veritable wall of sound. Eddy and I walked out of the venue, ears ringing and smiles on our face.

-May my ears ring forever