Club Absinthe 38 King William Street
This was one for the books and one of my favourite shows of 2012 – San Sebastian‘s first hometown show in over a year. Making it even more full circle, the opening act were my new favourites, New Hands.
Absinthe was the perfect place for San Seb’s hometown show. I haven’t been to the new location as much as I frequented the old place and it was fantastic to see the whole crew from those days out for this one. There were many there who I hadn’t seen in a while and it felt like a reunion with everyone out to support the boys.
I’ve known the San Sebastian guys for years now. Half the band were in The Racket and half were in Neighbourhood Noise when they came together to create Pumps. I remember seeing Pumps for the first time at Absinthe – they were in matching outfits, cute as anything, and played some of the catchiest music I’d heard. Every show I went to was a blast and they’ve always been so genuine and appreciative of their fans.
That same crackle of energy, that feeling I got when I first saw San Seb live, I felt that way about New Hands when I saw them in early 2012. I just knew I was witnessing something special. The bands are completely different, but I relate the same feeling. San Seb were a band I got really excited about and got behind, and I now feel the same way with New Hands. It worked out perfectly for me to see them on the same bill.
This was my second time seeing live music at Absinthe’s new location (the venue used to be Pepper Jack Cafe which I unfortunately never visited). The stage looks great under the coloured lights and situated right by the front glass doors and windows. Having seen New Hands in all kinds of venues over the past year, I was really excited to see them in this space.
Thinking back to my first New Hands show, I can really see how far they’ve come in only a matter of months. Their live show has sharpened and matured. They just keep getting better. I’m stoked for them! The Absinthe crowd was really receptive and I’m sure they gained even more fans through their performance.
Check out some footage of the show – I shot a video of “Tulips.”
Shout out to the other openers – I was introduced to new local band Black Rhino Riot from Guelph. I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend Jon Spero in the band and along with members Rob, Jamie, and Adam, they delivered an impressive set. Their songs are so solid and catchy and I couldn’t help but bob along. Great energy and right up my alley. Listen and download their first EP Truth for free. They’re a band on my radar now, for sure.
The Glorious Sons, from Kingston, also tore it up and got the energy high for San Seb to take the stage. The place was packed!
As always, San Seb launched into their set with a blast of energy. I was really excited to hear new material from the guys – they’ve been working away on their followup to Relations. I still haven’t tired of that album; some of those songs I’ve been hearing since the Pumps days but still sound so fresh. Every fan and friend who was in the audience sang along at the top of their lungs.
Of the new tracks they debuted, my favourite is “Sticky Fingers.” It has me right away from the first notes of drum and bass. My friend Krystal and I were already singing along to the “Ooooh, ooh ooh / Ooooh, ooh ooh” in “Running Through The Dark,” even though it was the first time we heard it (one lyric even mentions our fair city.). They also debuted the high energy “I Want More.” That one was a lot of fun live; I love the breakdown at the bridge.
San Seb’s music is so effortlessly catchy and irresistibly dancey. You just have to bust a move when you hear it. These new tracks are keeping with their signature sound, dancey pop-rock and catchy hooks, but also seem to be a natural progression for the band.
They’ve uploaded some demos to stream for a limited time – if they’re still up at the time I post this, check them out on SoundCloud while you can. Despite being just demos, they sound awesome. I’ve had them on repeat already and I’m so pumped (pun very much intended) to hear more. (Feel free to give me the exclusive on any new stuff, fellas!) Can’t wait!
San Seb played many tracks off Relations and even had time for a couple covers, including a Kings of Leon tune. San Seb’s song “Young Youth” rolled into a mashup of The Strokes’ “Last Night” (a song bound to be a classic of my generation) and had everyone singing along to that familiar chorus. Check out a short clip I shot of “Young Youth.”
Although I was hoping for their classic cover of Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” (a staple at Pumps shows) we were still treated to another classic San Seb cover – “Shout!” They invited some friends and the other bands onstage to help them out with that one. Max and Mike of Arkells were on hand to join in, which was fun to see. That brought the house down and was a fitting finale.
I even got in on the fun and was pulled onstage by my friend Adam Burchill to join the band’s friends as San Seb played one of my favourites, “Baby.” It was a party! We all danced behind the band and sang along to the call-and-response bridge in the song.
This was a fitting way to cap off my live shows for 2012 – with old and new friends, old and new tunes, and that strong sense of community that defines Hamilton’s music scene.