JunoFest Night 2: Huddle, Gentlemen Husbands, Elliott Brood and Hollerado

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Huddle – 9:45PM @ The Horseshoe Tavern

Toronto’s Huddle opened up the night. The band is Clay Jones, Mark Satterthwaite, David Lucas, and Ted Wilson, with new member Craig Hopkins. Their pop-rock music features additional beats and sounds transmitted via iPod. Huddle started their set to a rather sparse crowd, which grew as the set continued. They’ve got a good sound, but their live performance work could stand some work, as the band even admitted to mistakes. With the highly of a set being a Sea and Cake cover, Huddle did a good job of starting off the night.

Gentlemen Husbands – 11:00PM @ The Horseshoe Tavern

After a brief huddle on stage, Gentlemen Husbands kicked off their set with “Family Economics.” This Cobourg 4-piece is comprised of Rick Ballard (vocals, guitar), Ryan Hutcheson (guitar), Jed Atkinson (bass), and Dan Farrell (drums, vocals). Ballard’s voice consistently blows me away. His voice is certainly a highlight of their rock ‘n’ roll sound, but the entire band pulls their weight. With compelling bass lines from Atkinson, Farrell’s harmonies skilful percussion work, and Hutcheson’s riveting soloing, Gentlemen Husbands have produced impressive rock ‘n’ roll Americana. On this night, Ballard was particularly chatty on the microphone, offering some information on song meanings.

After a dizzying set of 11 songs, including their cover of “American Girl,” Gentlemen Husbands’ rockin’ set primed the stage for Elliott BROOD.

Elliott BROOD – 12:15AM @ The Horseshoe Tavern

As the band got on stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. An Elliott BROOD show is sure to result in pure, unabashed fun. The Toronto-based 3-piece, made up of Mark Sasso (vocals, guitar, banjo, ukelele), Casey Leforet (guitar, bass pedals, vocals) and Stephen Pitkin (drums, vocals), has received much acclaim, including three Juno nominations. Elliott BROOD even joked that they’re “3-time Juno losers” before launching into old favourite “Oh Alberta.” Sasso’s wretching vocals stand against a backdrop of jig-inducing alt-country. They’ve dubbed their style as “death country,” but an Elliott BROOD set is nothing short of lively.

The highlight of the set was, of course, when the band tossed out wooden spoons and stove covers to have the audience beat along. The crowd yelled for pots and pans and Sasso responded that the time was coming and said, “We’re better than Santa Claus, that’s for sure. We’re real.” Elliott BROOD certainly made the most of their time on stage, playing 18 energetic songs. Catching this band is more than just recommended – it’s a must.

Hollerado – 2:00AM @ The Horseshoe Tavern

Hollerado came on stage and immediately addressed the reason why they were wearing dress shirts – the Juno Awards Gala dinner, where they were up for New Group of the Year. Frontman Menno Versteeg said, “We didn’t win, but there were free drinks, so we kinda won.” As his statement alluded, the band was drunk. Versteeg then said, “Sorry in advance.”

This was an incredibly sloppy set by Hollerado, but it was 2:00am and most of the crowd was also inebriated, so the crowd embraced the drunken party. Hollerado opened up with “What’s Everybody Running For? (Part II)” and Versteeg jumped into the crowd. They invited their pals in Said the Whale, winner of New Group of the Year, on stage for “Rockin’ in the Free World”. Guitarist Nixon Boyd then asked, “What are we going to do now that we played the most crowd pleasing song we know?” Hollerado managed to continue, despite getting sloppier as the night went on. The show was full of antics, including tossing beers, spitting water/beer, chugging on stage, crowd surfing (and being dropped!) and, of course, plenty of confetti. Hollerado ended with their rousing rendition of “Surfin’ Bird,” which resulted in the stage being completely demolished (including bassist Dean Baxter down for the count on stage!). And you know what? I can’t think of better way to have ended JunoFest.

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Categories: JunoFest 2011, Live Music


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