Slick Sloan Keep it Together

Transplanted thrill-pop quartet worth suffering through The Dears

SLOAN with the DEARS at the Kool Haus, October 25. Tickets: $25. Attendance: 2,000. Rating: NNNN

keeping indie rock legends from their rabid fans is an experience akin to coming between a big angry mama bear and her cub. Bad news.That was the lesson the Dears learned last Thursday night at the Kool Haus. They’ve been called the best band in Canada, but their typically intense, explosive set of pop noir romantique bombed with the legions of Sloan fans.

The Dears’ onstage energy was electric. Poor Murray Lightburn gave it his all, hollering poetic proclamations at the top of his lungs over collapsing walls of noise guitar and Nico-cool Natalia Yanchak’s Procol Harum keyboards.

Unfortunately, everyone present was itchin’ to see four shaggy-haired dudes from Halifax, and the Dears’ art-rock act bored them to tears.

The annoying inter-act interlude by personalities from and Jeep Canada heated up the already hostile crowd. After a paunchy 30-something dude was presented with keys to a new vehicle, a guy to my right audibly threatened to kick his ass.

Thank god he didn’t take his cue from If It Feels Good Do It, Sloan’s opening number and the first single off their new album. When the fantastic foursome finally swaggered onto the stage, they rocked the house with big Gary Glitter guitar riffs that drowned out the fans’ ecstatic “Sloooh-oaaaaaan!” cheers.

After a decade together, they play like a well-oiled machine, with lots of polish, from their assured harmonies and tight sound and Chris Murphy’s ballsy banter to their cutesy instrument switcheroo shtick.

While the set focused on material from their latest disc, Pretty Together, Murphy & Co. made sure to include old faves like Coax Me and The Good In Everyone, and threw in a killer version of the classic Underwhelmed.

Add in crowd sing-alongs and a massive screen showing goofy Super-8 footage and retro-look slides of each song’s songwriter and you’ve got yourself a full-on rock spectacle.

They may look exactly the same as they did back in their Smeared days (eerily so — it makes you think they sleep in Tupperware or something), but they’ve left their lo-fi roots way behind.

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