Drunkula with the Matadors and the Fleshtones at the Horseshoe, November 18. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 175. Rating: NNN
There's something about the band name Drunkula that is so moronic it's almost genius, don't you think? It doesn't mean anything, but you aren't likely to forget it. Plus, it leaves you wondering if you're about to see a gang of shitfaced goths with a sense of humour, which is the rockland equivalent of a birdwatcher spying a lazuli bunting in downtown Toronto: not impossible, but uncommon enough to be noteworthy.
Then there's the scare that they might be some kind of Misfits knock-off. (Oh god, please, no-o-o-o-o! Insert blood curdling scream here.)
In reality, guitarist aside, Drunkula visually reminded me of that band from Almost Famous who were apparently based on the Allman Brothers. Featuring the man we named Toronto's best bass player, Nick Sewell , Drunkula rock fast, loose 'n' sometimes pretty sloppy.
They remind me a bit of really early Sabbath but with supershort old-skool-punk-length tunes. There were some late-70s/early-80s arena rock chord progressions delivered with hardcore edge and, bien sûr, many a seriously metal element mixed with some good ol' Southern rock. All in all, rather rocking. It doesn't mean anything, but you aren't likely to forget it.
This is the sort of stuff that the Horseshoe was built for. And luckily I had my favourite seat (see NOW's Best Of Toronto 2004 best vibrating seat), which may be why I like bass players so much.
The Matadors , who got better lights and sound, were totally tight and worked really hard, but unless you're a big rockabilly head who likes all that ghoulish horror film imagery, their set was bound to get a tad tedious after a while. Please see aforementioned Misfits aesthetic. Yes, it is very good rockabilly, no doubt about it, but it all sounds the same after a while, and I for one can do without singing skeletons and oh-so-wacky Luciferian imagery.
Happily, they did showcase a wicked bass player who spent the set climbing all over his stand-up like a little monkey, so that was entertaining.
The Fleshtones had a great time playing on tabletops, doing push-ups, encouraging audience participation etc. Musically the garage rock thing is - dare I repeat myself? Oh, what the hell - old hat, but the fans loved it.