Photographs by Janine Van Oostrom.
If I had to make a recipe for the perfect indie band it would go something like this: catchy songs, an appealing front man, some boyish good looks, and of course a knockout stage presence. Or I could just point you in the direction of Bad Suns instead and you’d get the same idea.
On a cold Wednesday night that finally felt a bit like winter the wind was blowing and the lineup to get into the Velvet Underground seemed to stretch on for miles and miles. Bad Suns were set to finally take a stage in Toronto and needless to say the fans were a little bit excited. When walking in one quickly noticed how the most dedicated of fans crammed themselves into the tight area around the stage and the rest crowded themselves into the remaining space in the too small venue. After what seemed like eons of an ominous hum playing overtop of the chatter in the crowd the lights finally dimmed and the long awaited Bad Suns took to the stage. They kicked off their setlist with the lead single off of their newest album “Disappear Here”. While before the show I had been warned about the enthusiasm of their fans there was nothing, and I mean nothing, that could prepare anyone for the primal screams of teenage girls that erupted from the crowd when the song began. Throughout the rest of the evening they went on to play a mixture of songs from both of their albums and of course not leaving out the hits like “Daft Pretty Boys”, “We Move Like The Ocean”, and of course “Cardiac Arrest”.
Throughout their entire set the enthusiasm of the crowd did not change one bit, I mean it literally did not even drop a single notch (I try not to think about the endurance that is required for that much screaming). All throughout the crowd no matter where you laid your eyes you could find couples swaying, young girls jumping, and lyrics being sung. While the majority of their fanbase seems to be derived of giddy high school girls it would be naive to write their fans off as simply that. In fact the further you got from the stage the more diversity you would happen to notice among the crowd. And the most wonderful thing about it all was that no matter the fans age or gender everyone seemed to carry the same blind admiration for the band on stage.
The actual dynamic of the show was in fact a little different than one might typically expect from a popular indie band; yet it went perfectly with the aura of the band. Their songs tend to have a darker feel to them and are not something you would necessarily want to dance to at 3am. So naturally the most wonderful thing about watching the live show was getting to see Bad Suns did not try to make themselves something they were not in the name of entertaining a crowd. Throughout the show the managed to withhold this sense of intriguing mystery around themselves; though both their music and the little bit on engagement they did have with the audience. A few spoken words here and a few elongated solos there and it was if Bad Suns knew how well they captured the crowd and how exactly to work it.
While it is hard to put a finger on exactly what makes a Bad Suns show so amazing it is easy to say that you walk away with a feeling of astonishment. And all I know is that in the following weekends you will find yourself hearing one of their songs on shuffle and smiling or find yourself telling your friend about how they just have to see them next time they’re in town. Either way Bad Suns are obviously doing something very very right.