Date of show: October 16, 2010
Shot of choice: Jameson
**Photos and review were initially posted on Sticky Magazine**
A couple weeks ago before this show at The Horseshoe Tavern, we all caught a Hollerado set at The Piston, which happened to be their CASBY afterparty. We had a chance to speak to Dean and when we proposed buying the whole band shots at the show, he said, “The Horseshoe, where it all started.” It was pretty heart-warming, but it’s also true. We’ll continue to follow Hollerado, but if you haven’t started yet, you’ve truly been missing out (and what rock have you been under?!). Get on it! Oh and buy them shots! Duh.
If I’m not mistaken, a confetti gun went off 11 times for Hollerado’s set at The Horseshoe Tavern. That will give you an idea of the party they threw. As Menno Versteeg (vocals, guitar) walked on stage to ‘Hollerado Land’ and looked out at the crowd at the sold-out Horseshoe, he said, “Hey everybody! This is awesome!” and awesome it was. Menno called Toronto their “home away from home” and said that they “learned how to play these songs here.” Toronto was kind, faithfully singing along and eating up every bit of stage banter from the guys. Their set featured friends and musicians alike, including Jacquie Neville (The Balconies) and Branko Scekic (Dinosaur Bones). However, the antics and surprises did not stop there.
Dave Foley, Kids in the Hall alum who made an appearance in the first ‘Americanarama’ video (see the new video here!), got on stage right at the start of ‘Got to Lose,’ which completely surprised the band. It was a really exciting moment to witness, as hugs were exchanged and they restarted the song, initially singing the chorus as “You got to lose Dave Foley if you want to find Dave Foley.” He was joined by another Kid in the Hall, Kevin McDonald toward the end of the song as well.
The night before the show, Hollerado tweeted that if at least a 100 people retweeted their tweet, Jake Boyd (drums) would play the entire set naked. They certainly had enough retweets, but while Jake regularly plays in his underpants, it was looking like Jake was not going to hold up his end of the bargain. However, just as they were about to play their second last song of the set, a cover of Count Five’s ‘Psychotic Reaction,’ Jake stripped down and “covered up” with a cellophane diaper. They ended their set with ‘Do The Doot Da Doot Do,’ which also featured some freestyling courtesy of Branko and a massive drum solo by Jake. This prompted the words, “Let’s hear it for Jake’s junk!” from Dean Baxter (bass) and Jake’s brother, Nixon Boyd (guitar, vocals), said, “Jake’s junk makes me proud to be Canadian.” Know this: Hollerado always puts on an entertaining show.
Dave Foley came back on stage to introduce the encore, saying, “Do you wanna hear more Hollerado?!” demanding that crowd cheer louder and louder. Hollerado came back on stage to play Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ in the Free World,’ joined again by Branko, members of Free Energy, as well as Arkells’ Max Kerman. It was a party on stage and a truly amazing send-off for the boys, as they embark on a big U.S. tour with Free Energy and Foxy Shazam. During the set, Menno said, “We’re about to tour where no one knows us. We’ll sometimes be playing to 5 people because we have the early set, but I’m gonna think of this when I think ‘why are we doing this?’” Recalling their performance, there’s no doubt in my mind Hollerado will play with the same energy, regardless of the number of people in the crowd. They will always set out to entertain and will continue to win people over. That’s just their style.
If there is any band I’d say is one you have to see live to get the full experience, it’s Foxy Shazam. They’ll blow your mind. In fact, they’re almost impossible to classify but, they certainly breed classic rock and roll with glam rock and soul, amongst their other many influences.
With almost Freddie Mercury-like vocals and a larger than life personality, Eric Nally (vocals) commands the stage. Behind Nally is a band of misfits that clearly have a flare for the dramatic. This includes Sky White (keys) who pulls out tricks with one foot up on the keys or even playing upside down, as well as Loren Turner (guitar) and Alex Nauth (horns) that really play up to the crowd. Visually, you can immediately recognize their unique sense of style, which is particularly evident with Sky White and Daisy (bass). The least dramatic member of the band may be drummer Aaron McVeigh, but he’s so busy being a solid hard-hitting drummer that his energy is still on par with that of the most dramatic in the band.
Stage antics were abundant, but likely the most peculiar and jaw dropping was when Nally asked for a cigarette from the crowd, lit up four, took a few puffs and then proceeded to eat the cigarettes. The stage banter to introduce most of the songs, although funny, did not make much sense, including a threat to a non-fan that sounded like it could be serious. The theatrics and humorous stage banter of this band might distract you from how the band sounds. They play with passion and with keys and horns, the texture and layers are actually really quite exciting. The vocals were never sub-par, as Nally always executes with passion and electricity. The performance was entertaining in every respect.
The most human moment was when Nally discussed criticism and then said, “It doesn’t matter what that magazine said because, in my opinion, I think we’re awesome.” And awesome they are, as they certainly know how to make a crowd go wild. If you haven’t seen Foxy Shazam live, you’re missing out.
Free Energy, a buzz band that I was eager to hear, did not disappoint. Heck, their entrance song was the theme song for Ghostbusters, so how could they possibly disappoint?! Looking out into the sold out Horseshoe Tavern, Paul Sprangers (vocals) said, “Sweet, let’s do it! This already rules!”
Free Energy played an 8-song set packed with so much power pop energy, filled with guitar-laden hooks, lyrics that invite the crowd to sing along and even some funky dance moves. With Spranger’s bouncy energy, harmonies from guitarists Scott Wells and Geoff Bucknum, textured basslines from Evan Wells and catchy beats from Nick Shuminsky, Free Energy had many of those up front at the Horseshoe dancing along. Sprangers is such an energetic frontman and he somehow finds a way to make eye contact with and point to every single fan that is bobbing their head or singing along. Scott Wells, who had a few enthralling guitar solos, managed to break a string only one song in. Introducing “Bang Pop,” their last song, Sprangers said, “Let’s do this, let’s make it count.” They had much of the crowd heartily singing along, so I’d say they did better than just making it count; they won people over.
The Reason, who just recently released their third full-length album, played a short 20-minute set to kick off the night. For a late addition to the bill, it was impressive to see that by the time they started around 9:30, the venue already had quite a crowd. It was a short set, but the guys in The Reason packed a lot into their set. Adam White (vocals, guitar) introduced each song and James Nelan (guitar, vocals, keys), just into their second song “Where Do We Go From Here,” was already standing on his keyboard bench chanting the lyrics. These guys, including Ronson Armstrong (bass, vocals), Steve Kiely (drums, vocals) and newcomer Michael Caputo (guitar), sound as strong and energetic as ever. They ended off their set with their single off of Fools, “The Longest Highway Home” and some of the crowd seemed surprised by the short set. Despite the length, it was an energetic set and I look forward to seeing them thrive with a longer set-time. Still, they were a great start to a great night.