The Coppertone Wails, July Talk Impresses, and Dirty Mags Garner Buzz at The Shoe
A solid line-up was put together to kick-off a Septembe thirsty Thursday at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern with; up-and-comers July Talk, prolific performers The Coppertone, and the buzz-producing The Dirty Mags.
July Talk got things going first attracting a hand-full of people at the Horseshoe to the front of the stage, but it wasn’t long before all attention was on them. July Talk’s live show could be described better as performance art rather than just a straight up performance. Lead vocalists Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay Goldstein act-out the music on top of playing it. No, not in the way actors in musicals act-out the music, July Talk let their bodies translate the feeling of the music, no choreography involved; just frantic movements about the stage. Their sound is like a dirtier, grittier, and bluesier Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros with the inter-play of Dreimanis and Goldstein’s voices. July Talk hit such a frenetic tone in their set, I was afraid they would spontaneously combust. Luckily for those at the Horseshoe, July Talk didn’t burst into flames, and they ended their set to loud applause from a crowd that had grown significantly since they took the stage.
Next up was The Coppertone, one of the hardest working bands in Toronto as can be easily discerned by looking at their touring schedule. Vocalist/guitarist Amanda Zelina, backed by Patrick McCormack on bass and Nick Stalkos on drums got right to playing their straight-up stripped-down old fashioned dirty blues. Zelina’s wailing moan and her blazing guitar filled the Shoe on their opening tune “Long Road”, making the audience take notice. Zelina brought the, fittingly, copper slide out for the 3rd song “Black Water” obscuring the individual notes she played but amplifying the feeling she emitted to the audience. McCormack asked the audience between tunes “How’s everyone doing?” (loud applause) “Um that’s all I got,” eliciting some chuckles from the audience. Although The Coppertone are not big on stage-banter, they do not short-change the audience on a performance. You can tell by looking at Zelina’s face as she plays that she is completely in the moment, feeling the lyrics and sounds she is singing and playing. That in my opinion is how blues music (or any music for that matter) must be played. I put The Coppertone up there with bands like CATL, The Pack A.D., and yes The Black Keys who are keeping the blues genre progressing while keeping its fundamental elements. Zelina and company demonstrated these elements perfectly on their last tune “Nighttime Wishes“, and Zelina showed that she can “sing like a hound”.
Next up was a unique 3-song set by Hugh Oliver, a man of much experience, playing on the ukulele and singing some entertaining lyrics. Including a morbid take on “Look on the Bright Side of Life” and a curse-riddled tribute to Harry Potter. Oliver then introduced the final act of the night, The Dirty Mags; “There is one Dirty Mag, and two, and three, there is one more Dirty Mag, ah yes there he is!” Oliver announced as the members trickled on stage. The Dirty Mags (whom you can find more about here) took the stage and began playing their fast-driving, bass-heavy, thrashy guitar, and vocal-effect brand of rock ‘n roll. With singer Mike Kaminski’s stage act that falls somewhere between Steven Tyler and Russell Brand and a sound that reminded my a bit of DFA 1979, The Dirty Mags got the crowd moving, inciting a mosh-pit like I have not seen in a long time. For a band without an album released yet they have created some serious buzz, as I noticed a lot of music industry-types taking in their show. I’m sure when they do get around to releasing some music, their fans will be quick to snatch it up. The crowd were hollering for more as the Dirty Mags left the stage, closing out another solid night in the long book of great shows at the Horseshoe.