Canadian rock music has never been more relevant. The sights and sounds are full and crisp, and the talent pool is deep. Still, once in awhile a music snob like myself gets to head to a concert with a band that I am largely unfamiliar with, in hopes of being wowed. Seldom does this actually happen. Most times, the band (insert name here) brings a lot of energy and a few hook driven choruses to the table, and at about the halfway point I begin to count down to the end of the night.
I’m not sure if that’s cynicism, or if it’s just high expectations, but I really had no idea what I was in for when I arrived at the John Street Pub in Arnprior on Friday night. For starters, where the Hell is Arnprior? Population 9000, the quaint Ottawa area town doesn’t have a lot going on Friday nights, but that didn’t stop them from selling out the pub to capacity, and jam packing it with people from all over the region.
And this venue? What was I walking into? Is this like a bar or a theatre, or something else? The answer…it was definitely something else. An upstairs performance pub with a small stage, the venue was littered with 80s hairband posters and vinyls pinned to the walls. I felt for a second like I was on the sunset strip…except I was in Arnprior.
The John Street Pub is a pretty rad place for a show actually. It’s intimate and the sound quality is fairly reasonable. The visual aesthetic only helps to make it feel like you’re part of an exclusive club.
The concert kicked off with Toronto area indie band Wildlife. A band which arguably could steal the show every single night they hit the stage, Wildlife shower the audience with shades of such acts as MeWithoutYou, Lifestory: Monologue, and Brand New, while also offering a plethora of sounds and styles that I can’t quite put my finger on. Having shared the stage with them before, I was incredibly proud to see just how far they have come and how refined and sensational they have become. If you are not listening to Wildlife and are only coming for the headliner, then you’re missing something special. It’s really that special. This is a band with something bombastic to offer, and I honestly can’t wait until they are headlining their own tours to sold out audiences.
And mark my words, it will happen.
While Wildlife offered us something we hadn’t seen before, The Glorious Sons offered us something that we might have forgotten existed. With familiar revivalist influences, cutting blues riffs, haunting vocal harmonies, and an overall bourbon soaked appeal, the Glorious Sons looked and sounded like your father’s blues band, acted like your favourite soul singers, and played a set three times as long as their peers could deliver. With songs with memorable lines like “I bet it’s lonely in Heaven, I bet God sings the blues,” the Glorious Sons have tapped into something universal and not overly pretentious. They have reminded us why we love all of this live music stuff to begin with. The remind us of this by singing about gypsies and heartbreak and long goodbyes.
Vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Lumineers, with an aesthetic similar to that of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a pop edge that would fit comfortably in between Kaleo and the Black Keys, this is a band on the cusp of something special. It was a pleasure to be apart of their lengthy and exhausting performance. They left me feeling like it was worth the drive.
Now that drunk jerk in front of me however, he could have stayed home and I wouldn’t have minded.
Bob Seger once wrote “rock and roll never forgets.” Bands like the Glorious Sons and the bands that share this moment in pop music history are proof that is true. So next time you see them coming to your town, bring your dad to the show, and an extra shirt. You’re probably going to sweat. That’s what the best ones make us do.
For a listing of upcoming events at The John St. Pub visit https://www.facebook.com/TheJohnStreetPub/