Though, Canadian Music Week had an impressive array of shows last week, I was only able to catch one of them, thank God it was this one. Toronto party punks, Brews Willis began the night with bright energetic pop punk. I thought that they frankly deserved a better crowd and set time – out of 4 others, they were put at the beginning of the bill at 8:15. Hardly anyone saw them. Though the crowd was small, it was still appreciative.
On my way back from the bathroom, one guy stops me: “Dude, your set tonight was awesome, man thanks so much”
“I’m not in Brews Willis dude, sorry”
“Wait, what? Seriously?”
“Are you fucking with me man?”
“No, man. I’m not, I promise you.”
The next band, L.A. Radio-rock trio The Dead Ships, are mediocre. It’s a sound that I’ve heard a million times and never really enjoyed. They say that they’ve been recording with Toronto’s own Brendan Canning and my first thought is “Seriously…?” Following them is an act known as Little People, Little Me, who sounded like a not-as-interesting Greys. Then, out of nowhere, they start playing this awesome Allman Brothers-esque tune complete with the kind of fuzz and twang you’d expect from a great rock song. It was a brief glimmer of hope that was quickly squashed by more boring riffs.
Though the bands were definitely energetic, there was still something missing from the show. Then, something great happened.
In my opinion the highlight of the night was not the actual headliners but the supporting act Twin Peaks (who have nothing to do with Twin Peaks). Standing around the venue, I couldn’t even tell they were in a band, they looked like a bunch of skate rat kids who had somehow snuck their way into the show. They start their set by taunting the crowd: “None of you seem drunk,” one of them says, “You guys are weak as fuck”. They start their set with “Flavor”, a blast of pure rock and roll. After a night of mediocre bands (except for Brews Willis) the crowd began to pulse, the show had been resurrected. They’re a band that’s so young, they don’t have to sing about being young. Twice during their set, their gear broke and they had to figure out how to kill time. It’s not long before the keyboard player begins an impromptu rendition of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”, then one of them grabs a beer from an audience member. These boys are havin’ fun.
As for the actual headliners, King Tuff is great in a cartoonish kind of way. It’s like watching a really goofy character from a Hannah Barbera cartoon take to the stage and start shredding. The presence is great, and infectious, this is a band with a constant smile on its face. With every great riff comes a classic rock and roll pose from the King himself. The stagey guitar moves don’t feel ironic, and at the same time they don’t feel overdone, they’re just great. Magic Jake has a Canadian flag on the head of his bass: “We love Canadian crowds, because they don’t give a fuck!”. They play “Black Moon Spell” and the riff is electric. The whole band looks like a group of weird/dangerous uncles getting together and jamming. Certainly, no fucks are being given. An encore is called for and it probably takes them less than a minute to come back onstage with a lively “Alone and Stoned”. Everyone is all smiles, and you can tell they’re having a blast.
Photos and text by Graham