San Sebastian CD Release
The Casbah 306 King Street West

It has been far too long since I’ve woken up the morning after a show, ears still ringing and without much of a voice. Cue the San Sebastian CD Release at Casbah. The hometown boys played a killer show to celebrate the release of their debut album, Relations, now available in stores/iTunes. I set out early with Honourary Tour Members Stacey and Krystal to beat the rush, and good thing we did, because the venue was packed!

Kicking off the night was electronic duo En Francais. Made up of Steve Earle and Dave Herres, these two know how to get a party going. I’ve seen them several times over the past couple of years and, every time, I regret not having glow sticks with me. I mean, really, I should have learned by now. So I’m saying it here – at their next show I attend, I will. You heard it here, friends – hold me to that! The crowd was a bit unsure at first, but after being beckoned by Steve to come up to the stage, a bunch of us moved up to the front. The audience loosened up a bit but still weren’t quite ready to bust a move. I give credit to the dudes behind me, though, they were feeling it. I particularly liked their track “Headband” (and not just because the title immediately made me think of Glee… my fellow Gleeks, you understand) and one of their older tracks, “Space Age” is always a highlight. Their new songs sounded rad and I could hear their progression. It always makes me wonder how musicians go about making this type of music, with all of its intricacies. En Francais – je t’aime!

En Francais

Teenage Kicks kept the party moving. I especially appreciated lead singer Pete’s sweet tambourine-playing moves. We have deep affection for the tambourine and various percussive instruments here at the Tour and I knew Carly and Avishka in particular would have approved. The band has a fun sound; I’d definitely catch them again. Toward the end of their set, we managed to stake out an ideal spot in the crowd and anxiously awaited San Sebastian to hit the stage.

The lights went out and “The Boys are Back in Town” began to blare throughout the venue. No song could have stated it better – it was the perfect intro for San Sebastian’s much-anticipated hometown show. At the risk of getting sentimental, I’m so proud of this band and the amazing success they’ve achieved so far. The first time I saw them, they were The Racket, made up of brothers Mike and Greg Veerman, and drummer Ted Paterson. Adding brothers Brodie and Sean Dawson into the mix, they then became Pumps. Right from my first Pumps show, it hit me – I knew I was witnessing the start of something big. A couple years later, I was watching their appearance on Much Music’s series Disband, which launched them further into Canada’s music scene, garnering them a much bigger fanbase, a name change, and a record deal. They have since toured with Arkells and Hedley, all the while writing and recording their first full-length album. Relations is such a solid album from start to finish; you can tell the work that went into it. They took their time, and the result really captures what San Sebastian are all about. I feel like I’ve witnessed and been a part of the band’s journey so far and am so pumped (pun intended) to see where it will take them.

It was a wicked set – the guys played Relations in its entirety, plus debuted two brand new songs and had some fun with a couple of their classic covers. We danced up a storm the whole time – it was impossible not to! San Sebastian always put on an incredibly dynamic live show and that energy is infectious. Their memorable songs are some of the catchiest I’ve heard and their current single, “Baby” is no exception – a newer song, it’s the perfect blend of their original Pumps sound and the band’s natural evolution. If you haven’t already watched the hilarious video for it (which features some classic Downtown Hamilton haunts), check it out on their YouTube channel.

It was a treat to get to hear all of Relations live, especially the band’s newest songs that I hadn’t heard them play live yet. Another highlight for me was getting to hear the album’s closing track, “Somebody,” which they played live for the first time.

An encore was demanded and San Sebastian took the stage again, slowing things down with the acoustic “In or Out” before bringing down the house with a cover of the classic party tune, “Shout”. Max Kerman of Arkells jumped up onstage to help them close off the set. The party then raged on into the night with an after party in the Lounge.

What I especially loved about this show is that you really felt the love and support from all of San Sebastian’s family, friends, and fans who were there, and have been since the beginning. Those feelings were mutual – you can always feel the sincerity from Mike, Greg, Sean, Brodie, and Ted as well. They remain the same grounded guys and are always quick to speak of their appreciation for the city they’re from, even as they make waves nationally. Go get ’em, fellas!

– Kristin

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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