FRENCH KICKS with MONEY MONEY and ON THE SPEAKERS at the Horseshoe, May 27. Tickets: $7. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNN
Ryan Kennedy, lead singer of Peterborough's Money Money , was standing a bit too close for comfort. He'd left the Horseshoe stage during one of his band's heavy burb-punk anthems and sung his way dangerously deep into a scarce audience. An uncomfortable payoff followed - the band stopped playing and he sang the hook a cappella, his gurgling voice box oozing the kind of anguish better enjoyed from a distance.
Sporting the T-shirt-and-tie style Avril popularized then abandoned, Kennedy's stage shtick also included stumbling about screaming, running his hand up his face and through his bleached hair, all drunk and strung out, kinda like Craig Nicholls of the Vines. The band was tight, riff-intensive and hard, the vocals a bit poppy, the songs short. Entertaining if unoriginal, but the stage drama takes something away.
Miraculously, Kennedy sobered up for the between-song banter. A nihilistic cool about him, he got brownie points for referencing SNL's infamous Blue Oyster Cult sketch starring Christopher "More Cowbell" Walken.
Thinking of second openers On the Speakers later, I can only remember how forgettable they were. This emo outfit have taken insipid and made it their own, standing frozen onstage playing songs as dry as a bag of sand and not nearly as appetizing. They kept their set short, praise Jesus.
The floor was packed by the time New York City mod rockers French Kicks hit the stage, their first time back in Toronto since opening for Hot Hot Heat at the Opera House in December 03.
Theirs was a vigorous set characterized by constant energy and a bright, soulful spirit. Song highlights included the lush harmonics of Close To Modern and the balanced dynamics of Wrong Side and Piano. A clear sound, technical perfection and cocksure delivery of smart songwriting with addictive pop sensibilities made them champions of the night.
And the women here loved Nick Stumpf gyrating around in a too-small undershirt. Guitarists Josh Wise and Matt Stinchcomb both wore the same shirt as Stumpf, but his brother, bassist Lawrence , didn't. He looked like he was from a different band.
Sadly, undershirts only come in three-packs.