NXNE Review: We're Marching On, Born Ruffians and more
From left to right: We're Marching On, Born Ruffians, Junior Boys & Young Rival
While the bustling business of Toronto's clubs, venues and hot spots were being overrun with the work week's members for NXNE (and not for NXNE), one show was powerfully magnetizing people into the Mod Club on Friday night. Leading the bill were Hamilton's representative for Domino Records, Junior Boys, Midland, Ontario's (now, and for quite a good while, Toronto's) Born Ruffians, classic-rock/indie troupe Young Rival (formerly The Ride Theory), and one of the most epic bands you will ever see, We're Marching On.
Young Rival began the night as people began filling into the Mod Club. Outputting a style (from what I came across via reading and listening) known as "wildcat rock 'n roll", Young Rival tore through their set within no time. All of their songs had a fast, rock-dance tempo to them which gave most of the listeners something to move about. I was enjoying what I was hearing, but it wasn't anything I hadn't heard before...sorta. One BIG plus about this band: very tight. They never missed a beat. Something like that can take a band a long, long way. As good as things were, the night was just getting started. Following Young Rival were We're Marching On, but I'll get to them a little bit later.
The Born Ruffians had just finished recording their upcoming record down in the States and are performing for the first time since stepping outside of the studio. Hearing comments from the band such as "we haven't performed in a really long time" make you question why in the world they would say something like that when they sound as good as they always have. This was the 2nd time I had seen the band on a larger-than-normal stage. The new songs have the same break-off/odd tempo as some of their original tunes. At first, hearing a while ago, I was bit skeptical to see where the songs would go or whether they were even catchy. However, it didn't take long for them to grow on me. Hearing them at the Mod Club in a fuller, broader form was a great experience, especially for the old and new fans.
Junior Boys were the main attraction of the evening. Their electronic-pop brand has caught the attention of a lot of people over the last while. Filling the venue to max capacity, the Junior Boys were set up by a busy, but patient road crew who had to assemble an endless array of cables, patches, systems and what-nots. When they finally got on stage, singer Jeremy Greenspan let out a big "hello" to the waiting audience and then finally got on with the show. As the hype surrounding them was big, I was sort of expecting something exciting and somewhat mind-blowing. Junior Boys seem polished off and suit to the listener who like more of an emotional-electronic wave rather than something strong and intense (low and behold something I really like in electronic music). Because of this, I wasn't entirely turned on to the band's brand of sound. However, there were times, especially during the encore, when they just improved their way with dance beats assisted with solid drumming. With that being all 'n good, here comes the best band of the night: WE'RE MARCHING ON!!
We're Marching On, or WAMO, are the experiment that went on in Science class and exploded, covering the room in green goo and a really weird smell. So you open the classroom door and notice the mess. It looks AWFUL. Then, all of sudden, after staring at the green goo and inhaling the smell, you somehow become accustomed to the change. It's something you've never seen before and you find it eccentric, unusual, or even extra-terrestrial. Then, after giving it time to acclimate, it forms and shapes into something that doesn't look familiar at all. In fact, it's so different that you're not even sure if you want to even keep it. But, you can't look away. It's different, it's unique and best of all, it doesn't have a chorus in its songs.
The band hit the stage shortly after Young Rival. After quickly checking their instruments and such, they all combined together in a droning hum into their respective microphones. As the hum went on, Steve Hesselink opened up on the drums to lead the band forward, symbolizing We're Marching On.
Lead singer, Tim Fagan, was full of spirit and energy - all the way down to the core. He did not hold back from the large audience or the big stage. He utilized all of space, from sitting on the stage while playing, to the long, belting scream that owned the sound system for a heart-pulsing 5 seconds.
The combination of efforts from supporting friends/band members was flawless. Switching from guitar to bass (and vox) was Steve Lappano (aka The Spicy Italian), who was billowing out tunes with his mouth up on the mic. Hiding behind two giant keyboards was Ryan Carley. Unfortunately, the lighting guy forgot to shine a light on him. Thankfully, his efforts never go unnoticed - he emits his own light. As mentioned before, Steve Hesselink owns on percussion/drums. Helping out with keys and a luscious keytar was Chris Stringer who also recorded and produced their debut EP 'Argh! Umph! Ahhh!' Having previously drummed for The D'Urbervilles, Hesselink is clearly a force to be reckoned with.
Right before the set began, Hesselink, a good friend and a great man, looked directly at me as he perched behind the drum-kit waiting for the set to start. He pointed directly at me, specifically at my shirt, which said "TEAMWORK." We're Marching On is, and always will be about unity. There isn't one song that deviates from this rule. We're Marching On..."...marching on to make mistakes, break out legs, in deep forest. While cutting the cheese, killing our knees, eat great lakes like those who came before us. We need blood for what it makes moves."
In other words, SEE THIS BAND.
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