Golden Dogs return to Call the Office

Toronto band rocks out despite lacklustre crowd

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Golden Dogs guitarist

Jonas Hrebeniuk

OO-EE-OO I LOOK JUST LIKE BUDDY HOLLY. The Golden Dogs guitarist Neil Quin tears down Call the Office with his rock-pop riffs.

Hype is a fickle creature, especially when it comes to the kind that haunts indie rock.

Last year’s up and coming Toronto darlings, The Golden Dogs, might not be drawing the same buzz in 2007 as it did before, but that doesn’t make its shows any less energetic.

Opener Peter Elkas wasn’t exactly a perfect fit with the headliners. The east coast singer/songwriter and his band laid out songs drenched in 1970s soft rock nostalgia that didn’t fit with The Golden Dogs’ amped up power pop.

A mustachioed Elkas didn’t seem phased by the wary crowd and methodically made his way through each number with his band in tow. It was puzzling to watch and even stranger to listen to, as if Call the Office had been sucked into a time warp.

With his latest album, Wall of Fire, Elkas says he was influenced by Bill Withers, Bruce Springsteen, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. While this might be so, it doesn’t really make for an exciting live show. However, your parents would love this stuff, especially if they haven’t bought an album since 1979.

Once the Golden Dogs took to the stage, the crowd was slightly more receptive, though nowhere near as excited when the group hit London in the spring. It might have been the fact it was a Tuesday or that it is midterm season, but the band did not seem to mind. Launching into crowd favourite “Construction Worker,” from 2006’s Big Eye Little Eye, the band still gave its all.

Through new and old material, frontman Dave Azzolini and his wife and keyboardist, Jessica Grassia, were at times possessed; Grassia was often shaking on stage while mercilessly attacking the keys in front of her or the tambourine in her hand. At times, you were actually waiting for one of them to get hurt.

Older material like “Run Outta Luck” and “Never Meant Any Harm” received the biggest cheers from an audience slowly drawn in over the course of the set. The band still uses placards to announce each song’s title and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

Adding an epic cover of Paul McCartney’s “1985” provided the highlight of the night, with the entire band lost in the throes of rocking out. It’s nice to see in a sea of jaded shoe gazing, ironic T-shirts, and self-conscious musicianship that some bands still just want to kick out the jams " and take requests once they finish the set list.

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