Brett Emmons glowered at the audience from behind the mic stand at Lee’s Palace Saturday night before roaring like a lion at pride rock, “Toronto! Does rock and roll mean something to you?”

The place erupted on Thursday, December 18, 2014, but over the cacophony of cheers and shrieks and the collective voices of the enchanted masses, Emmons roared on, “I’m tired of people in Hollywood not writing their own songs, and getting famous because they have big tits and a big ass, and I’m sick of Justin Bieber!” 

“Where did all the real motherfuckers go?” And from behind him, a crash like thunder took The Glorious Sons into their next song; one step closer to saving us all from a world without rock and roll.

The Glorious Sons emerged on Canada’s rock and roll radar in 2013 after winning HTZ-FM’s Rocksearch contest. Only a year later, and they are the second-most played artist on rock radio in Canada, behind Pearl Jam. What? Yeah, a meteoric rise to say the least. And you know what else? They completely deserve it.

I had listened to their first full album, The Union, a dozen or so times before seeing The Glorious Sons live for the first time on Saturday night. I wasn’t prepared for the raw, unadulterated energy they brought with them. The show kicked off at a hundred miles an hour; guitarist Andrew Young fell over minutes into the first song, Brett Emmon’s hair transformed into a living thing with a mind of its own, Jay Emmon – on guitar – and Chris Huot on bass filled the place with sound, and Adam Paquette on drums provided a consistent, thundering backbone that kept the energy up and the show moving. Someone should have told me they were going to be more like Guns N’ Roses and less like Lynyrd Skynyrd. I was blown away, and so was the rest of the venue. ‘This is a real rock and roll band,’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘finally.’

One other standout surprise was the appearance onstage of The Trews’ John-Angus MacDonald. Emmon introduced him as ‘the guy who always had their back,’ and ‘if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be here.’ Macdonald produced The Glorious Sons’ EP Shapeless Art in 2013, and I thought it was really humble of them to feel so indebted to him. There’s obviously a lot of respect there, and that’s good to see.

The Glorious Sons are the thumping heartbeat of rock and roll, Canadian or otherwise. And they’re reveling under that pressure.