Public Animal is the thunder-bastard of the Toronto music scene.
At The Garrison on a frosty Friday night, Public Animal headlined a bill that also featured Jetsex, TV’d, I Smell Blood, and USA Out Of Vietnam. The venue rocked from beginning to end, and it’s a really cool room too. One I’ve never been to before, but one I can’t wait to get back to again.
Public Animal has been at it since 2012, but all four members are veterans of the Toronto music scene. Most notably is Ian Blurton, who was an original member of the Cowboy Junkies back in the 80’s. He’s also produced a countless number of records; the dude has no quit in him and as Public Animal’s lead vocalist and guitarist, he’s a real force. He should and could be a proper frontman though. He could take centre-stage and really lead.
As good as Public Animal were on Friday night, and as good as they were last time I saw them at the Horseshoe opening up for The Supersuckers, there’s something about the dynamic onstage, and the inconsistent aesthetic of the band that throws me off a little bit. They’ve got their bass player in the center of the stage which is totally fine, except either side of him he’s got vocalists. Ian Blurton on his right, and on his left he’s got Caitlin Dacey, formerly of Bella Clava. She fronted that band, and she could front this one too. Instead, she’s stuck out left on keyboards and Ian Blurton – with that gritty look of his – is out wide right, and we’re all stuck with this very plain bass player who sort of doesn’t fit in that rock and roll sandwich. Don’t get me wrong – he’s good at what he does. But those pieces don’t really fit together visually.
That being said, Blurton and Dacey are awesome together. They play off each other so well. Their combined vocals are powerful and energetic, and they really do feel like a cohesive pair. Hearing Dacey scream out a chorus is like nothing else, and Blurton’s leads are just as impressive.
Public Animal’s latest release, Habitat Animal, is a great goddamn record. If you like raucous, bluesy, rough rock and roll, you’ll love Public Animal. And they’re awesome live. They really stamped themselves on The Garrison, and the highlight of the night had to be ‘I Ain’t Gonna Live,’ off the new album. Check it out.