The Ascot Royals Rock The Horseshoe Tavern
I knew I wanted to see The Ascot Royals perform live after listening to just one of their songs online. They were headlining a show at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern on a hot Friday night, a perfect start to the long weekend. But my excitement to finally see a show at this famous venue quickly dissipated, as the firstly faint, then unmistakable, bouquet of le puke filled my nostrils. So much for legendary. Thankfully, the concert venue at the back was nicely ventilated with a powerful AC. The crowd was idling around tables, eager for a reason to run to the dance floor in front of the stage.
The Rathburns gave them that reason. People quickly trickled to the floor so that the only option I had was to squeeze my way to the front, feeling intrigued. The lead singer, Frances Virgilio, had a powerhouse of a voice and a dynamic stage presence that really got the audience moving. Her three band mates did a great job of supporting her energetic singing without making the songs seem overpowering. They delivered an interesting yet addictive blend of blues and rock, with an emphasis on the rock that gave you goosebumps and made you bang your head. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.
Sons of Revelry have an interesting back story, in the sense that the lead singer Toby Black is loaded; which means they play music for the sake of music, an interesting luxury in this eternal recession of a world we live in. They delivered a tight performance with a confident stage presence and got a large crowd dancing along to their solid rock tunes.
The next band, Benhur, seemed a bit out of place with their moody, sensitive brand of rock, after the previous two bands had created an almost rowdy party atmosphere. They were clearly talented musicians but it didn’t help their show that lead singer Ben Nissan was pumped full of meds to deal with the fact that he almost broke his neck at the gym the previous day. Props for not canceling the show, but their performance left the dance floor awkwardly empty and me in dire need of a shot.
The headliners of the night, the Ascot Royals made their way onto the stage among cheers from the excited crowd. I think at least half of them must have had some shots or, as I found out later, they just knew that a great show was about to ensue. They dived right in with melodic and catchy dance rock delivered with great skill and showmanship. These “royals” truly seemed in their element on stage, both relaxed and lively, they kept surprising the audience with even more engaging songs and a stage presence asymptotically approaching perfection, with a chance of re-writing the rules of math when they reach it. Speaking of surprises, naked guy on stage! I’m not pulling your leg, a very pasty guy wearing a hat and briefs that were pulled up way too high, jumped on stage and started rapping “jamming with the Ascot Royals, yo!” It turns out, this was their surprise guest, Branko aka Serb Superb from Dinosaur Bones. The crowd went nuts (with horror, I hope)! But even if his rapping wasn’t horrendous and somehow even worked in that moment, there was still a lanky pasty NAKED guy on stage! For the first time in my life, I was thankful for the huge guy blocking my view. The band went along with it very graciously but it definitely cramped their style. That tends to happen when a naked guy pulls at your afro. Don’t naked people know that you never touch someone’s curls? Shudder aside, I’ve discovered a new favourite band in the Ascot Royals due to their expertly fun delivered dance rock.
Help cheer the boys on as they compete for a Molson Canadian Live win!