THE CHAINS at Rancho Relaxo, February 2. Tickets: $6. Attendance: 200. Rating: NNN
the chains have an eye and ear for detail when it comes to recreating the 60s psychedelic sound.The blond Fender amp, the mod suits and haircuts -- styled so everybody's hair falls halfway down their forehead, half over the ears and just brushes the collar -- showed the band's familiarity with the look, too.
Only eight months old, and with the release of their first album not due till spring, the Montreal quintet played their Toronto debut to a ready-to-dance crowd at Rancho Relaxo.
The audience was turned on to the retro sound by host and DJ Christian Hamilton, whose Saturday-night show on CIUT, Dementia 13, features psychedelic and beat vinyl rarities. Then DJ Phil beat the crowd so vigorously with a wicked set of old-school psychedelia that by the time the Chains strapped on, the Austin Powers extras in the crowd had achieved that period-rush high sought by Civil War re-enactors.
The Chains stayed inside the parameters of what's already been done in this genre. Well rehearsed, their music rocked along in its non-threatening vein with a clear, independent bass sound, sweet backup vocals and occasionally raunchy guitar solos that were marked, unfortunately, by their brevity.
The Chains were tight, had stage presence, got the audience moving and kept them moving for both of their 35-minute sets. The one slow song they performed gave us a peek at the influence of 50s country music on 60s rock.
But though psychedelia was a precursor to metal, the band demonstrated only the music's restrained, almost polite energy as opposed to the bare-bones rawness or extended freak-out jams it was also known for.
The Chains have growth potential, but they could push the music a little bit harder.