Saturday, March 28, 2009

Born Ruffians grow up.

Last Tuesday night I went to see Born Ruffians and Akron/Family at Sneaky Dee's. I bought my ticket to this show months ago, and have been looking forward to it ever since it was announced in mid-January. Born Ruffians was the band I most wanted to see. Their brand of young, fresh pop is just fantastic, and over the course of 2008 they became one of my favourite bands. So, yay, a show at Sneaks without the enthusiastic (read: sweat-soaked, crazy) all-ages crowd that was out in force the last time I saw them play.

Before the show, I'd heard through the rumour-mill that drummer Steve Hamelin had left the band, and Andy Lloyd (not a drummer, people told me) had joined it. What I didn't realize was that a fourth member had been added too, making Born Ruffians a four-piece. The new drummer's name is Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane). So, things were going to be different. And I was excited to see what they guys had put together. The played a full set of songs mostly off their latest album, last year's Red Yellow & Blue, as well as some from their debut EP (Born Ruffians, 2006). But while the songs were familiar---so much so that everyone around me at the front was singing along with Luke Lalonde et al. joyfully---the sound was a little different from what I was used to. Elements of experimentation, varied guitar and bass parts, as well as the addition of Lloyd's keyboard, extra guitar, or bass to the live show caught some fans off-guard. It took some getting used to, but in the end I was thrilled to see and hear how the band is adapting to its new lineup. I was struck by the sense that this was no longer a band of young men with a fresh, new sound, but a more mature-sounding group interested in adding a layer or two to their happy pop anthems. How exciting, I say. And certainly appropriate to this particular mini-tour with the energetic, jammy Akron/Family. The show left me wanting to see Born Ruffians again and again, to watch this band evolve.

I had to leave before the end of Akron/Family's set to catch the subway, but the venue was still packed, the sound was extremely loud, and everyone was having a blast. Luke was on stage with a tambourine, singing, dancing, and playing along with Akron/Family. How fun.

Born Ruffians play next in Toronto on 4 May at the Kool Haus, when they open for Franz Ferdinand. Playing in front of about 2,500 people should be neat. (That's a good story: I guess FF was so impressed with BR when they opened for them at the Lee's Palace show a few months ago that they invited BR to join them a bunch of dates in North America on this major tour.)

[Photo credit.]


nowhere said...

Ahmed Gallab is the name of the new drummer. He's from a band called Sinkane.

historyjen said...

Ah, cool, thanks David. I suppose I could have found that out myself... interesting, and I guess he's not from Toronto which is one reason why we didn't recognize him.