London Arkells fans "kick Toronto's ass" at CTO

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Nick Dika

Gazette File Photo

PLAYING LIVE IS SO MUCH HARDER THAN GUITAR HERO. Arkells’ bassist Nick Dika rocks out to tracks of the band’s latest album, Jackson Square.

A warm Saturday night in London was the setting for a hot stop on The Waking Eyes and Arkells’ joint cross-Canada tour. Call The Office hosted the healthy crowd that came out for a long night of degenerate fun. Craig Stickland, guitarist and vocalist of opening band We Are The Take, commented, “It’s so hot in here. There are so many of you.”

We Are The Take played a solid opening set. The Toronto-based foursome is loud, catchy and has attitude to spare. Most often recognized for its song, “Montreal Love Song,” which appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation, We Are The Take made the most of the opportunity to open for two of Canada’s up-and-coming bands.

Winnipeg’s The Waking Eyes formed over eight years ago and has been evolving ever since. Once a psychedelic pop-rock group, The Waking Eyes showcased its latest guitar-driven garage rock sound. Each band member played multiple instruments, including keyboard, harmonica and tambourine, creating a multi-dimensional live sound.

The Waking Eyes’s melodic set was comprised of songs from its latest album, Holding on to Whatever It Is, an album which has been generally well-received by music critics. The band concluded the set with its latest single, “All Empires Fall.”

Mustangs football fans who attended the 2008 Vanier Cup would have recognized the next band as the game’s halftime performers. With Arkells headlining Saturday night’s show, the crowd almost tore the place down. Arkells’ gig combined bread-and-butter rock ‘n’ roll hooks with a knack for showmanship that proved popular with the raucous crowd.

Arkells had plenty of motivation to put on a great show. Max Kerman, lead vocalist, reminisced to the crowd, “I remember when we couldn’t get a gig at Call The Office. Tonight is our redemption.”

Arkells treated the crowd to a tight, polished set with songs from its latest album, Jackson Square, which paid homage to the band’s favourite Hamilton locale.

Coming off a show in Toronto the night before and thrilled with his band’s reception in London, Kerman shouted, “You guys kick Toronto’s ass. You’re so much better.”

Arkells have played with the likes of Alexisonfire and Tokyo Police Club and are label-mates with City and Colour. Arkells’ quick ascension up the Canadian music scene is impressive considering they only formed in 2006.

Arkells’ latest single “Oh, the Boss is Coming!” capped off its set with Call The Office singing and dancing along. Before Arkells could leave, the crowd demanded an encore and the members called friends We Are the Take and The Waking Eyes on stage to perform collective renditions of The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen.

If Saturday’s show at Call The Office is any sign of things to come, the rest of Canada has plenty to look forward to.

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