The Vaccines Cured Our Winter Blues at The Phoenix

The Vaccines @ Phoenix, 04-02-13

Date of show: February 4, 2013
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo

Rarely does a crowd spontaneously erupt into a singalong waiting for the headliner to emerge, but that’s just what happened at The Phoenix as the rabid audience belted out “I’m A Believer” along with the house music before The Vaccines finally took the stage. The exorbitant enthusiasm carried through and only continued to grow as the UK grungy Brit-rock band got started. Justin Young (vocals, guitar), Freddie Cowan (guitar), Árni Arnason (bass), Pete Robertson (drums) started with “No Hope,” the first track off recently released album Come of Age. Frontman Young triumphantly took his position, owning the stage with one knee bent on the monitor as he leaned into the crowd. Reviving the punk spirit of The Ramones with “Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra),” they held the crowd in the palm of their hands from the very beginning; this even despite technical difficulties with Young’s microphone that required techs to come out multiple times before it was fixed.

Taking a breather, the band slowed things down with the sweetly swinging “Lack of Understanding” and “Wetsuit” that urges “slow it down, go easy on me.” Midway through their set Young mentioned that he was suffering from a sore throat. Luckily the crowd was more than willing to take over vocal duties on “Post Breakup Sex,” joyously singing along to the promiscuous lyrics – so much so that the floor of the large venue was positively shaking. Perhaps slightly taken aback, Young commented “You’re very fucking loud, Toronto – louder than the States anyway.”

Continuing on with a mixture of old and new material, the band riled up the crowd even more, and they were soon chanting each band member’s name. They ended their 15-song set with the almost-too-catchy “If You Wanna” before soon returning for a three-song encore, starting with “Wolf Pack” and ending with “Norgaard.” At Young’s urging “we’ve got one more, so give us everything you’ve got!” the frantic crowd did just that.

The Vaccines’ first North American show was in Toronto. Fast forward two years and here they were on their first headlining North American tour. Despite Young’s premonition that “only 50 people would show up,” in actuality, The Phoenix quickly sold out and the younger all-ages crowd had arrived early on in the day to line up in the frigid cold. It was our first time seeing the much hyped band, but it definitely won’t be our last.

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San Cisco

A four-piece all the way from Australia, it was opening band San Cisco’s first time in Toronto. Comprised of Jordi Davieson (guitar, lead vocals), Josh Biondillo (guitar, vocals), Nick Garner (bass), and Scarlett Stevens (drums, vocals), they blew in with their light and airy pop, tropical flutter to the guitar, and a bit of an electronic trill that reminded me of Toronto’s Grounders at times. Sharing keyboard duties, the keys added an extra punch of summer to their already happy lo-fi pop-ness.

While Davieson was the primary vocalist, Stevens added her high-pitched girlish back-up vocals to a few songs, such as “Beach.” Unfortunately she seemed to soften their sound, and these songs just didn’t work as well as the others. It was a bit difficult to completely understand what they were saying when they attempted banter with the crowd, however their thick Australian accents were lovely enough just to listen to regardless. Their enjoyable set also included “Wild Things,” which turned out to be slower than one would expect from a tune with “wild” in the title, as well as “No Friends.” The band joked that the track was about Jordi, to which he asked if anyone in the audience wanted to hang out after. More than a handful of girls eagerly volunteered.

With a steady following in Australia, the band signed to Fat Possum Records last Fall for the release of their self-titled album. From the roaring cheers that followed their set, it’s pretty safe to say they had won the crowd over by the end of their time on stage – and isn’t that exactly your goal as the opening band in a new country?

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Categories: Live Music


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