Slick Sugar

Big Sugar at Lee's Palace. June 15. Tickets: $20-$22. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNi didn't take the warning.


Big Sugar at Lee’s Palace. June 15. Tickets: $20-$22. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN


i didn’t take the warning to bring earplugs with me to Saturday’s Big Sugar show at Lee’s Palace seriously. I mean, it’s Big Sugar, right? How loud could it be?So five minutes into their set I was in the bathroom stuffing toilet paper in my ears, grumbling to myself like a crazy lady. But it looked like I was the only one who minded.

Big Sugar were in good form for their third consecutive Lee’s appearance, emerging (I don’t know why) to Alabama 3’s Woke Up This Morning playing over the PA, then launching into their own high-energy set of roots reggae rock. Frontman Gordie Johnson demanded to know whether the wholesome-looking crowd of brothers and sisters were ready, which indeed they were, many displaying their readiness by singing along.

Johnson’s pretty slick, wielding his double-neck with plenty of good old roots rock charisma and a bluesy drawl, all complemented by the chemistry of the band, and in particular their multi-talented keyboardist, Kelly Hoppe, who also blows a mean harmonica.

Alas, while there is nothing glaringly bad about the outfit, when set inside the context of the colourful world of rock fusion styles out there, a Big Sugar show feels a little like watching a glorified bar band. And so affable are they that I felt terribly guilty for being mind-bendingly bored.

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