THE SMITH STREET BAND, ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD, JEFF ROSENSTOCK and CHUMPED at Lee’s Palace, Tuesday, March 24. Rating: NNN
Three of the four bands playing Lee’s Palace on Tuesday are on Side One Dummy Records, making the night seem more like a label showcase than one band’s headlining show. Former Bomb the Music Industry! lead singer Jeff Rosenstock blasted his way through a punchy set that included tracks from his three-week-old solo release We Cool? And even with a 7:20 pm slot, pesky rockers Chumped found favour with the crowd.
While Phoenix’s Andrew Jackson Jihad drew the biggest response, the five-piece folk-punks rarely showed much diversity in their songwriting or approach. Hate Song For Brains showed off their vulnerability, which most of the crowd seemed to identify with, but the repetitive nature of their acoustic-based tracks was a little too much to bear.
Lee’s Palace had been abnormally busy early on, especially surprising given the early start time on a school night. But that benefitted Melbourne’s the Smith Street Band: esteemed, fist-raising punk mainstays in their native land making their Toronto debut.
They started slow, not giving the rolling single Surrender the push it needed, but they eventually they found their groove with 2013’s Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams. All four bands were energetic, but the tenacity shown by lead singer Wil Wagner, especially given their relative lack of popularity in Toronto, made their set the most memorable.
Eventually the curious crowd swarmed the front of the stage for older classics like the straight-ahead rocker Young Drunk and the enlivening Sigourney Weaver. Sporting a PUP t-shirt and giving the local act big props throughout the evening, Wagner eventually charmed the crowd enough to encourage a few crowd surfers. A memorable debut from the Aussies, one that ensured they’ll have even more converts when they return.
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