By Zev Citron. Canadian Music Week continued its Showcase event Tuesday night at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto’s Annex neighbourhood. Sneaky Dee’s is a personal favourite of mine; a bar exploding with both rage and creativity, so it was more than suitable that bands like Kaptur, Admirals, and The Kerouacs played this historic venue.
I arrived at the bar very early, so early that it was just me and the bands. The second floor of Sneaky Dee’s is where the action happens. The walls are covered with artwork, graffiti, stickers, you name it, but what I love so much about this place is the low stage which gives the audience a really intimate show. Admirals, hailing from Montreal, sat at the table next to me speaking to each other in French. I for one do not speak French, so I thought it best to leave them alone with their business.
Around 7:45 PM, the crowd began to slowly arrive and by 8:00 PM, Kaptur was up on stage doing their seven-song set. Hailing from St. Catharines, ON, Kaptur was originally a one-man project for frontman Riley Jensen, but has since transformed into a kick ass four-piece experimental indie band. These guys may be young, but they know how to work the stage like pros. However, it could have been a bit bigger when the bass player got a little too into it and fell off stage. Their set consisted of original songs coming from their latest EP, Black Diamond, ranging from slow jams and sopranos to total ragers like their final song “Futureproof”, but with maracas and tambourines! Jensen’s vocal work along with the bass riffs gives off a very Death From Above 1979 vibe; the kind of voice that can deliver both emotion and intensity while presenting it with a grungy attitude. The guitars, specifically on their last song, “Futureproof,” reminded me of early Queens of the Stone Age materials. Now these guys have a long way to go, but like anything, practice makes perfect. The more they experiment with new and different sounds, the better they’ll become. I already like what I see, so I highly recommend you keep an eye on Kaptur in the coming years.
Next up were Montreal punk rock collective, Admirals. The group, consisting of frontman Julien Poirie, Jérôme Duchaine, Émilie Fortin, and Samuel Duchaine, have been around for about ten years and have four albums under their belt, and I could tell immediately that these guys knew what they were doing. Admirals can be spotted from a mile away with their matching black and white admiral uniforms which seem to be very influenced by The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers album cover. They started with a bang, with Poirie yelling to the crowd, “Are y’all ready to rock!?” They definitely delivered on that note, having the most fun on stage compared to any other band that night and even gifting the crowd with a White Stripes cover of “Little Room” along with originals such as the danceable “Let’s Build a House and Burn It Down.” As Poirie stated, “Admirals is a way of life. We are Admirals, and you’re Admirals too.” Overall, Admirals delivered an amazing theatrical performance, including a classy roll call near the end of their set.
As I could tell by the crowd, the main attraction of the night was Niagara Falls’ own, The Kerouacs, a blues rock collective featuring Peter Schmoll, Elias Regier, Evan Wiens, and Dan Multari. These guys look like average joes, but the talent is definitely there, with Schmoll and Reiger exchanging vocals and guitar solos throughout their set, along with Wiens’ energetic bass playing and stage presence. The sound coming out of their amps was incredible for such a small venue and really got the kids dancing along. What surprised me the most about them was their courage and bravery, covering both The Beatles’ “Dig a Pony” and The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Manic Depression.” It was a risky move to do, I mean come on, it’s the fucking Beatles, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The harmonies were on point and Schmoll nailed the Harrison solo. As for Hendrix, it was even better than their last cover, and I can honestly say it was the highlight of the night; their solos melted my face off and had my jaw on the floor (That’s balls, everyone). The Kerouacs sound like they’ve been together for over a decade, let alone three years; they play so harmoniously and know how to play off each other. I cannot wait to see what’s in store for these guys and honestly hope they reach a larger audience.
And they say rock is dead…