There are certain things that make a rock show a spectacular show for me: of course, the quality and type of music of the act are big – if you hate the music, probably not going to enjoy the show – if the band sucks, probably not going to enjoy the show (that said, passion, stage presence, and a host of other factors can make up for a band that maybe hasn’t fully developed the talent part yet :D). And yah, those are two other qualities of a great show right there – passion and stage presence. Add to that, energy (the buzzing, electric, kind of energy, not necessarily the jumping, running, flying kind (though that can be cool too), performance (in the sense of style/theatrics/stage design, etc.), and engagement (with the audience and between the band), to name just a few more.
There’s no formula for how all of these work together into a great show – you don’t even need all of them at the same time or throughout a show. And you don’t have to be playing arenas or stadiums with crazy tour budgets and elaborate stage design, lighting, and pyrotechnics… A small pub, a small crowd, and a great band can experience greatness just as well.
As was the case last Saturday with the 427’s at the Empress Ale House on Whyte ave.
I love going to see the 427’s play. I mean, yes, I am biased, as I think their bassist, my BFF, Eve Hell (I’ve mentioned her before – my first Rock Goddess of this blog and one of my all time favorite Canadian musicians), is one of the most talented musicians out there – my second favorite bass player of all time. [Sorry Eve, I love you, but Adam comes first; its pretty much a biblical imperative (get it? Adam before Eve… a ha ha…)! No no – you are my favorite… ah crap – my loyalties are torn! Best friend / loves of my life U2… Best friend / loves of my life…. Ack, can I make it a tie? Ok, it’s a tie. Adam and Eve are the best bass players ever! Whoosh, loyalty crisis averted!]
But, this band has all of these elements in spades. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them perform a number of times and they are just so freakin awesome to watch! Great music – instrumental surf rock – super surfer catchy, tight guitar riffs, energetic drums, rock n roll, baby! You can’t help but move to this music, whether you are full on dancing or shakin your foot, this music gets in your bones.
It was the same on Saturday at the Empress, which, btw, is a great little pub – unassuming from the outside, but charming, warm and cool inside – love the different chandeliers hanging around. The stage, small and intimate, lit from above by a set of three cylindrical lights that bounced warm jets of light off the red walls.
Red walls that serendipitously matched perfectly with the 427’s stylish kit. Men in Black suits and ties, accessorized with super cool funky shoes and red accents. Red drums (wait… red drums… reddrums… Redrum! Redrum!!!! Ahhhh!!!), red guitars, red socks and red hair. And the shoes… Did I mention the cool shoes… There is just something about a band all dressed in matching black suits and ties!
It, of course, speaks to the era of musical inspiration tied to surf rock, the 60s, when bands used to dress alike more often than not. But there’s a reason they all did back then – it just works. Brings a unity and cohesion, a togetherness, to the band that adds to the stage presence and performance.
And the 427’s have great stage presence. They are playful and entertaining, building that energy just naturally. They engage with each other and the audience. Just check out the battle of the guitars in this photo below and the facial expressions of Wrayne on the drums in all the photos. They have fun up there on the stage, and that means fun for us in the crowd.
To top it off, they are supremely gifted musicians, the lot of them. It is clear that they have a passion for music in general and their own craft in particular. This band knows music. They are fans of music. And I truly believe the best musicians are fans themselves. You can be the most technically-gifted musician, but if you do not loooove music and aren’t a fan of other musicians out there, can there be passion, emotion, inspiration, growth, in your art?
So, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – if you haven’t seen them live, you should go! Check out their website for dates near you (and info, and tunes, and bears oh my!) The 427’s really are a fantastic live band (with some new material in the works!) and I’m not just saying that because I am biased…