The wonderful Front Room Entertainment is back with another season of their In-The-Round concerts. I was stoked when Madeline Wilson asked I Heart Hamilton to come on board as a promoter this year. (In case you missed it, I’m giving away tickets to each show – stay tuned for more giveaways!)
In-The-Round is a really special series that brings intimate performances from some amazing Canadian talent. They all take place up on the fourth floor of the Hamilton Public Library’s Central Branch downtown. If you haven’t partied in a library yet, you haven’t lived!
The first band to play In-The-Round was The Trews. Originally from the East Coast, several of the members now live here in Hamilton. I think we can officially claim them as one of our own! No doubt about it – Trews fans are the real deal. This Hamilton crowd in particular was ready to rock. There was so much excitement in the room and passion for this band; it was impossible not to feel swept away by it.
The literal in-the-round setup is a unique way to see any performance. With the audience surrounding the band, with rows of seats circling a centre stage, there are no bad seats. Like a real concert hall, the room was darkly lit and the spotlights were focused on the band. With the band members facing themselves, lead vocalist Colin MacDonald remarked that this was the first time he got to actually watch his own band: “They’re pretty good!” he joked. The low ceiling beams of the newly renovated fourth floor of the library helped add to the intimate vibe of the night. In fact, at the time of this concert, the space wasn’t even open to the public yet, so we were the first to break it in.
Fuelling the party vibes even more, Collective Arts Brewing (which we can now claim as an official Hamiltonian too!) was on hand serving up their delicious brew. I was excited to also finally meet Collective Brew rep Dan Johnston who is such a champion for all things local. Give him a follow and a high five when you see him out on the town!
The Trews played two long sets with a break in the middle. Spirits were high, and everyone enjoyed a good mingle and some beer during the intermission. Lisa and I popped outside onto one of the landings and took in an awesome night view of the city. It was also Art Crawl, and a mild March night, making for a picturesque Hamilton scene.
Throughout the show, the crowd reacted to the first few notes of every single song. Fans knew every word and, pardon the Trews’ pun, sang their hearts out. The library was rockin! It was raucous group of fans. But I don’t know why I expected anything less – The Trews are a fricken good rock band. There is such a nice familiarity about their music – each song grabbed me right away and had me toe tapping along. Solid, classic rock’n’roll vibes.
Surprise guest for the night was hometown fave Terra Lightfoot. Back in December we caught Terra’s set at McMaster’s LIVELab with the National Academy Orchestra. The Trews’ guitarist John-Angus MacDonald joined Terra onstage then for a tune. Now it was fun to see Terra return the favour and hop onstage for a rendition of “In the Morning.”
I kept having this moment like, here I am, Friday night, sipping a beer in a library and listening to some awesome live music. The energy in the room was amazing. It was one of those rare experiences that made for one of my classic I Heart Hamilton moments.
Stay tuned for more from In-The-Round. I can’t wait to hear who they book next!