The Casbah 306 King Street West
We’re on a roll lately with the fantastic shows happening in Hamilton! This lineup was amazing – Allosaurus, New Hands, Hands & Teeth, and Wildlife. I rolled into Casbah a little early, just in time for one of their craft beer tastings in the Lounge. Casbah’s owner, William “Brodie” Schwendiman has done a terrific job at stocking Casbah full of local, independent, craft beers, and while I’m not yet a beer connoisseur, I can certainly appreciate all of the varieties and what must go into crafting just the right brew.
Be sure to check out Casbah’s first “Brews N Bands” Craft Beer Festival on June 2nd. I chatted with Aron D’Alesio, singer of Young Rival, who was bartending, and joked about my inability to distinguish between beers, much less critique one’s flavour, while swishing the brew around in my cup, trying to look like I fit in at a tasting. Avishka met up with me shortly after I sampled my beer, and then it was time to head upstairs for the show.
Allosaurus kicked off the night, and right away, Avishka and I looked at each other, and knew we were fans of the Hamilton band. Seeing the familiar set up of an electronic-pop music duo, which we’ve seen before (we’re realizing how awesome Hamilton’s dance/electro music scene is!), we were curious what their live show would be like. As soon as their matching blazers and pants lit up, (yes, lit up!) we were on board. We loved Brad Melle and Evan MacAlpine’s playful onstage presentation; they danced about with no inhibitions, making their set so much fun to watch. A highlight for me was their song “Emma-Jane,” which was recently featured on an episode of Degrassi. Ah, young love. Their closing track, “Hello St. Louis” was also a banger, and they pulled out all the stops for that one, dancing up a storm! Again, I always regret not having glow sticks with me. We really must remember that when checking out these electro acts!
Avishka and I were particularly excited to meet New Hands and see them play, after hearing so much about the Hamilton band. We have heard great things about them from major music figures in the City – their producer Michael Keire (and we recently visited his studio where the band has been working away), Lou Molinario of This Ain’t Hollywood, and Mark of Dr. Disc. And now they have the official I Heart Hamilton Tour endorsement (if I may be so bold as to put ourselves in that category), as we are quite smitten with the group!
They have a unique sound that boasts a variety of influences. There are some 80s synth sounds in there (as I noted in my April Playlist, which features “This I’ve Heard”), and they have a more danceable sound than we were expecting, but they also have a darker sound to their music, too. I still can’t get over Spence Newell’s vocals; it’s like he’s channelling it from somewhere else. He even gave us a personal shout out from the stage, which meant a lot! The guys have such a fun chemistry onstage and off; you can tell how much fun they’re having and that energy is infectious. “Whichever Way You’ll Have It” was promptly stuck in my head after the show – love the breakdown in that song. Drummer Gord Bond is also a talented visual artist, having his art featured at McMaster’s Wise Up (the annual School of the Arts exhibition) and winning an award. They are currently working on their debut full length album and I can’t wait to see and hear more from these guys.
From one “hands” band to another, Toronto’s Hands & Teeth also put on a great show. Avi and I had only heard of them through Carly, who sent her recommendation. Avi and I liked Hands & Teeth’s set up and particularly liked how much the band switched up their roles, taking on different instruments by trading them off amongst each other and by divvying up the vocal duties. It made for an interesting set to watch and offered something different from other bands. I couldn’t help but notice they have a song titled “Sound of Hamilton,” off their latest album, Hunting Season. How apropos!
Another Toronto band, Wildlife, headlined the show. I had heard of them, but hadn’t given them a proper listen. I listened to some tracks before attending the show and really liked what I heard. Seeing a band live is always a different experience, for better or for worse, and Wildlife’s rip-roaring set was completely for the better! It made me like them even more; they played an amazing set. To continue with our love of theatrics, they had a fog machine, and, although that was not the most fun to breathe in, as we were pressed right up to the front of the stage, it worked; it added a certain mystique. I absolutely couldn’t get over drummer Dwayne Christie, who hammered it out back there like I’ve never seen. I laughed, later on, when I read New Hands’ Tweet: “Spence watching @wildlifeband’s drummer ‘He’s moving so fast I feel like I’m watching a claymation video!’ #swag”.
It was such a wicked lineup – we were very impressed!