Hot Kid - A woman steps up with guitar and microphone and a guy is behind her on drums. They start with kind of a psychobilly sound, but I am a bit mistaken as it actually moves toward and sticks with a fast, heavy rock/metal sound. They remind me of my early prejudice against two instrument bands that I thought I had overcome. Well, like most things, it depends on the specific situation. Quite simply, if you keep your sound really simple, you better be doing those things really well. To be fair, I did warm to their grind it out style a little by the end of their half-hour set. The crowd was supportive, but not terribly enthusiastic from what I could tell. They are from Toronto and probably a part of the massive Sloan tour bus I saw outside (used previously by Snoop Dog). It was so huge, Sloan did not need to skimp on opening band size and could have had an Arcade Fire like ensemble with them and still had plenty of room on the bus. A tasty appetizer here.
Sloan - Twenty years, ten albums, singles/eps, and a lot of touring is the scorecard for this Halifax quartet. They still have their original four members, no doubt due in part to being able to hide from each other on their tour bus. They are appearing with a touring keyboardist/backing vocalist. There is a bit of instrument switching allowing the drummer to come forward for 4-5 of his songs (they all write). I read something calling them folk-rock which misrepresents them terribly. They are pretty much a high quality pop-rock band. I would call them power-pop but there was only a song or two that had a beat that reminds me of a punchy power-pop sound (maybe something akin to the Zeros). This is smoother with lots of hooks and only slight tempo adjustments. These guys write and play songs that sound balanced and simple, but the hooks, vocal abilities, and group playing are all at levels much higher than many bands you will see. I have read good things about these guys and am finally happy to have had a chance to see that the critics are right. Kudos to the Jammin Java for getting this show and their sound system did well with the volume. The place was pretty full and their were plenty of rabid fans that were quicker than I was in getting into this fine band. Over 90 minutes of music breezed by with smiles all around.
Quote of the night: Sloan was making Garfield references much of the night and I am likely misheard this so remember these quotes are filtered through club noise, rocked out ears, and intracranial connections (creating an in-joke here for my sharp readers)... "What day is it? Monday, you know Garfield hated Mondays. An angry Henry Rollins hates Mondays. Garfield..."