Music Express Showcase- Canadian Music Week
Wednesday, May 6th 2015 Rivoli Nightclub Toronto.
Eight of Ontario’s up-and-coming bands proved there is talent galore in this province by marking Canadian Music Week with an appearance at the Music Express Music Showcase May 6th at the venerable Rivoli nightclub.
The Rathburns, Beautiful Nothing, The Cocksure Lads, Honeyrunners, Suns Of Stone, 40 Sons, Heydek and Mother Leads all performed solid sets to an enthusiastic audience, hampered only by an actual lack of CMW delegates who had instead assembled a few kilometres down the road at the Phoenix Concert Theatre for the Unison Benevolent charity raiser. Still this deterrent didn’t prevent Wednesday’s lineup from delivering a series of high energy performances.
The Rathburns, promoting their debut EP kicked off the night’s activities, and although they had to contend with patrons starting to filter into the building during their opening set, vocalist Frances Virgillio, guitarist brother Joey Virgillio, bassist Erik Kolomay and drummer powered through a nine-song set that featured highlight performances on tracks like “One More” , “Shakes”, “72 Steps” and “Oh Lord”
Burlington’s Beautiful Nothing followed with a high-energy set which vocalist Andrew Ludgate and Co led off with their current single; “Highway To The Sky”and following with seven, lyrically solid tracks including an infectious cover of The Killers’ “All These Things That I Have Done”, performed for the first time. Watch for these guys (and gal) on the summer concert circuit that includes Burlington’s Sound Of Music and Kitchener’s Big Music Festival.
The night’s ringers were former Moxy Fruvous pair Murray Foster and Mike Ford, who in their spare time over the years, wrote a bunch of faux British invasion songs, created a physical identity for the material with the fictitious Cocksure Lads and even have a movie about this band’s Toronto debut coming out in August.
On stage, Foster and Ford, supported by Burton Cummings’ guitarist, Tim Bovaconti and veteran drummer Blake Manning amazed with their tight-knit musical chemistry and spot-on vocals, making you believe that songs like “Mr Man”, “Not Today” “Paddington Way” and “I’ve Already Been Loved” were indeed authentic hits from the Sixties before concluding their set with a carbon copy cover of The Who’s “The Kids Are Alright”.
While the crowd were still catching their collective breath from The Cocksure Lads, out came The Honeyrunners with a set that stamped them as future superstars. Keyboardist/lead vocalist Dan Dwoskin, ace guitarist Marcus Bucci, driving percussionist Brandon Robins and new bassist Guillermo Subauste combined powerful instrumental arrangements, reminiscent of the Rolling Stones and Black Crowes with some gutsy lead vocals from Dwoskin that fuelled their own material (“Hold Me”, “Muse” and yet somehow worked The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” into “Spirits (It Is) as well as inserting a spirited cover of the Stones’ nugget, “Brown Sugar”. A high energy party band with promising material and an excellent stage presence, some major label is eventually going to scoop these guys up.
Ottawa’s Suns Of Stone followed with a sizzling blues/rock set in the same mould as Kings Of The Stone Age, with Alan Charlton’s vocal histrionics drawing favourable comparisons to a young Joe Cocker (albeit without the booze or drug influences). His support crew of guitarist Jimmy King, bassist Andrew Erlandson and drummer Alex Scott fuelled the power on tracks like “Talking To Me”, “Down The Road” and “Sun Don’t Shine” being particular standouts.
Although the audience thinned out dramatically by 1 am. , Hamilton’s 40 Sons took the stage and made the best of it with fiery lead vocalist Mike Repic battling his band, comprised of guitarist Mike Spik, bassist Link Andrews and drummer Christiano Andreatto through a nine-song set that included tracks like “Die With Me”, “Run Baby Run” and the set finale “I Have The Gun”.
Hedrek entered into the spirit of things with bassist/vocalist Dennis Demarchi, guitarist Steve Bigas and drummer Adam MacKenzie turning their set into a glorified jam/rehearsal. Exotic Ukrainian vocalist Marta Shpak ended their set with two expressive vocals on “Let The Children Play” and “Love/Hate” delivering a powerful set of vocal pipes.
Ajax band Mother Leads then jokingly referred their set as the early morning shift, wrapping up the marathon with an energetic nine-song set list in which they again turned the performance opportunity into an elongated jam when they could have abbreviated their activities. Hats off to drummer/vocalist Ray Cara, vocalist/guitarist Neil Culbert, bassist Jordan Quinn and guitarist Jordan Lassalle for running through a complete performance with songs like “Top Of The World”, “Burn Up” and “It’s A Feeling” being particular highlights.
Despite the absence of CMW delegates, all the bands enjoyed themselves, they did get to play The Rivoli at CMW and their collective careers will no doubt benefit from this experience moving forward.
Photos by Ted Van Boort.