Music Reviews

Wolfmother, Deap Vally at Danforth Music Hall

I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on it, but I just can’t get into HBO’s new show Vinyl. Maybe I’ve become too much of a prude in terms of all the sex and drugs being glorified amidst some admittedly awesome rock ’n’ roll from the year of my birth. Yes, I know, I’m old. Or maybe it’s how Vinyl goes from zero to GoodFellas in the blink of an eye…and I was doing an awful lot of blinking trying to stay awake during its 2-hour premiere.

Anyway, it isn’t all bad; I especially liked the scenes where record exec Richie Finestra watches the New York Dolls while NYC’s Mercer Arts Center is about to give way. Rock really does have the transformative power to make you feel alive and higher than any drug. That should be the theme Vinyl sticks with if they want to keep me as a viewer, the search for the next big thing, instead of veering off into haphazard directions.

Wait, wasn’t I supposed to be reviewing Wolfmother at The Danforth Music Hall? Oh crap, well I think most of what I’ve already written can be salvaged, as Wolfmother are as close to a real ’70s hard rock McCoy as there can be in the 2010s.

You could easily argue that Wolfmother had the at times dreaded NBT tag around them from the minute the band rose up from down under in 2006. Has it really been 10 years since Wolfmother’s self-titled debut, with headbanger after headbanger echoing Zeppelin’s Depths of Mordor finest? It was amazing to see the sellout Toronto crowd seemingly unhinge anytime the Aussies ripped into a now-classic Wolfmother track. From the opening strands of “Woman” (3rd song in) to eventual thunderous closer “Joker & the Thief”…ow, my freaking ears!

A decade plus in to their existence and an inordinate amount of lineup iterations for a power trio later, Wolfmother are back with latest album Victorious. It certainly doesn’t veer too far off the path alpha Wolfmother-er Andrew Stockdale initially set out on all those years ago, a nonstop guitar riff affair that Saturday night’s concert continually degenerated into. My increasingly tender Gen-X auricles wouldn’t have minded an acoustic slowdown such as standout Victorious track “Pretty Peggy”. Alas, the only time Stockdale and his positively psychedelic-looking pack members Ian Peres and Alex Carapetis took their collective feet off the gas pedal was during “Mind’s Eye”, complete with requisite lighters in the air.

They may not have brought down the nearly 100-year old Danforth like the Dolls do in Vinyl (oops, sorry for the spoiler), but there was a tightness to the group and a ferocity to Stockdale in particular to make me believe Wolfmother are anything but done hunting for rock greatness. I know whatever hair I have left was standing on end in excitement, although I have looong given up trying to grown my mane to Stockdale-level epicness. Come to think of it, I felt a lot like Bobby Cannavale’s Vinyl character must have while taking in Wolfmother alone, surrounded by significantly younger, mostly male fans than me. Minus the cocaine, mind you.

About the closest we got to things being balanced from a testosterone perspective were openers Deap Vally, and only because they’re a two-piece female duo…as well as the news usual drummer Julie Edwards is sitting out the Gypsy Caravan  tour due to recently having a baby. Congrats, BTW! Now, I’ve probably spoiled Vinyl for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet but was contemplating giving it a chance. Wolfmother’s Victorious, however, definitely deserves your attention. I bet you Finestra would have forgotten all about trying to discover punk and they’d be immediately signed to his American Century label.

About author

Gilles LeBlanc literally fell into “alternative rock” way back at Lollapalooza 1992, where he got caught in his first mosh pit watching some band named Pearl Jam. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his life looking for music to match the liberating rush he felt that day, with a particular chest-beating emphasis on stuff coming out of his native Canada. You can follow his alter ego on Twitter: @ROCKthusiast.