The volume will be turned down a bit this week at the Elk’s Lodge as Heartwood Slacks drop in for their first visit. The band, coming fresh off some “no cases” at ECMA 2012 in Moncton, brings an acoustic folk/bluegrass style sound to the venue, combining the compelling vocals and songwriting of John “The Sea, The Stars” Gill with banjo, stand up bass, mandolin, and lots of vocal harmony. The group will be recording their debut over the next few months but, for now, you can head over to bandcamp and download a live-off-the-floor demo they did prior to the ECMAs.
Accompanying the Slacks will be new indie rock group Summers on Vacation. When SOV played the Elk’s back in March, for only their second show as a full band, they rocked it hard alongside Antigonish’s Mad Chatter and local prog-ers Start the Reactor. The group takes an initial aesthetic of reserved songwriting and blows it up with some great overdriven guitar and a rhythm section full of carefully crafted dynamic. The songs were great, bridging a rootsy rock sound with hook-laden post emo indie pop flavours. The result was something that surprised the audience and captured their full attention by the end of the set.
Opening the show is a new band consisting of former members of Heartwood Slacks and Do Something Crazy. Young Wanda and the Rumblers are described, straight from the horse’s mouth, as a cross between early rock and roll and rockabilly and adds saxophone and keyboards to the traditional rock instrumentation. After this show, however, the group will be separating as members head to other locations, so this may be your only change to check them out.
The show, as nearly always, will start sometime around 10:30pm and admission is $7.
Last week, a bunch of punk rockers took the stage at the Elk’s. Not your modern punk rock crew though, these bands had more in common with bands at the birth of the genre than those of present day. Hash Jesus, made up of Tom Fun Orchestra members Ian MacDougall, Shane O’Handley, and Albert Lionais, took the stage and belted out a set that was loud and catchy as hell. The group, which sounds like the best pop rock songs thrown through thick distortion or played through an old busted radio, had people up and rocking right from the start. MacDougall is quite an endearing frontman for this group, which differs greatly than the other projects the members are involved with, and the combination of band chemistry and songs that stick in your head no matter how hard you try to forget them makes Hash Jesus a great band to catch in any setting.
Joe Costello and the High Tide played next as a sendoff for drummer Dale Landry, who will be spending the next few months fishing lobster from his hometown of Arichat. The group has been hitting their stride over the last few months with their newest lineup, which has been together since last July, becoming more comfortable and contributing more to the overall aesthetic of the band. The foursome has developed their sound as something that falls between old punk, rootsy rock, and power pop. The set, which included a brand new song and a cover of Neil Young’s “Song X” with Clayton D’Orsay on lead vocals, was indicative of what the band has become and what audiences will see and hear when they get back into the fold. Look for their debut album toward the end of the summer.
Ladyslippers finished off the night and kept the pace fast and upbeat. As the audience swelled and more migrated to the front of the stage, the band ripped song after song of layered rock and roll highlighted by standout bass work from Donnie Calabrese. The organ by John Gill keeps the band’s sound upbeat, while the pseudo mod throwback sound of the band reckons back to mid-’70s London and all of the great music therein. Frontman Victor Tomiczek has a charisma that borders on over the top but never quite gets there, with his unique voice and sometimes raspy yell acting as an exclamation mark. Standouts from the set were “Justine” and “Rabbit Town Road”, original tunes that can be heard at reverbnation.com, as well as a cover of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” that would lift the spirits of even the most jaded scenester.
The Elk’s Lodge is located at 101 Bentinck Street, which is behind MaryJanes, in downtown Sydney. 12 oz draft is $2.50 all night and special happy hour shooters happen from 11-12. For more information on the Elk’s of Canada, visit elks-canada.org.