Photographs by Katrina Lat.
Happy holidays you bastards: rock n roll version. Or at least that’s what the folks at WayHome decided was on the menu for the intrepid concertgoers last Wednesday night. The Phoenix was alive with the holiday spirit, with presents galore, and even a Santa jolly and fat. As a special surprise for the audience a children’s chorus took the stage at around 7:15 for some charming Christmas caroling; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many children at a rock show!
At 8:15 the all-girl band The Beaches took the stage, literally, blitzing our ears with sounds that can only be described as a violent and powerful all out assault of old school punk rock. A four piece from Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, they performed with the swagger of Joan Jett, and the take no prisoners attitude of the Ramones in their glory days. Despite the simplicity of their writing, the talent in these four musicians was evident. Whereas the lack of complicated writing can often be a deterrent to the listener after a time, in this case it only served to increase the appeal of the music. Riffing straight-forward power chords and simple melodies, they delivered each of their songs like a one punch upper cut, creating a sonic assault the audience couldn’t get enough of. Energized by their stage presence and driven by the energy they radiated, the audience rocked out with them. There was enough glitz and glam on that stage to bedazzle an Elvis show.
Following the Beaches was Bear Mountain, a four piece that seemed determined to combine the aesthetic of EDM with the energy of a live band. The long intros and lack of verbal variance, whilst a cool concept at the beginning of the set, grew to be monotonous as the set bore on. The concept they were reaching for was very exciting, unfortunately the execution less so.
As Bear Mountain exited, the stage was inundated with palm trees and greenery. The lights went down, and Kenny Logins lit up the soundsystem, inducting us into the ‘Danger Zone’! The two gentlemen who make up The Darcy’s walk onstage, place themselves at their various stations, and went to work with a heavy guitar solo, peppered liberally with reverb and heavy overdrive. Leading out of their first number, we head straight into a frenzy of sound only the likes of the cast of ‘Tron’ would be familiar with. As the electric euphoria rises, percussionist, Wes Marskell, kicks the tempo into double time, ratcheting the attitude of the room up. The heavy bass bats us into musical submission, and suddenly Marskell is rocking a pineapple before sliding us into a groove that can only be described as pornographic. The vocalist leads off with “I get up”, we respond “I GET UP!” before switching to keys and giving us a keys-gasm. Heavy bass and drum beats kick in, and we get blasted with another heavy guitar solo that segues into what they call “an old school rock and roll ending”.
After a brief interlude, there’s a short rendition of ‘Purple Rain’, in tribute to Prince. Next thing we know, Marskell shows up with a voxbox solo, before the duo begin their closing song. The opening of the final number feels like the soundtrack to the credits of an 80s Mel Gibson movie; I can picture the big hair, even as they rock the audience to our core. As the band walks offstage, we sit in restless darkness, screaming for more – and they make us earn it. After a long pause they return to the stage for one final encore. Channeling both The Wallflowers and T Eagles, with more pizzazz, the band leaves us on a high note as we exit into that winter night to find our way home.