THE CONSTANTINES at Ted's Wrecking Yard, February 16. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 300. Rating: NNNN you could attribute the fact that Ted's Wrecking Yard was packed by 10 pm Friday to the free pints of black stuff being poured, but don't discount the draw of openers the Constantines.
For the past few weeks, the Guelph foursome have been riding the buzz of an apparently jaw-dropping Sunday-night set. Word of mouth began to spread with uncommon excitement, and by the time the band took the stage, even the typically no-go area in front of the stage was full.
It's easy to see why people were electrified. It's been almost a decade since Washington, DC, label Dischord was a major indie-rock influence, but clearly the records of Fugazi and the Nation of Ulysses have staying power.
Despite the fact that they look like they would have been about 12 when Fugazi's best records were released, the Constantines draw heavily on the DC crew's plan of attack, while mixing in a few tricks of their own for variety. Fronted by twin screamers Bry Webb and Steve Lambke, the foursome play epic, anthemic songs that build the tension toward a furious conclusion.
Webb and Lambke traded both guitar and vocal lines, complementing each other without duplicating their notes and keeping their punk-pop missives down to the bare essentials, give or take the occasional hand-clap.
The energy was wild and infectious. Bassist Dallas Wehrle spent most of the show on his ass, and drummer Doug MacGregor did his best to demolish his kit with his meaty clubbing. The reference points were obvious but not overdone, largely because the Constantines have enough fire to make even familiar guitar and drum patterns seem fresh.
By the end of the explosive set, those who'd spread the initial word felt justified. Those who'd paid attention felt rewarded.