When a show such as Adam Baldwin is announced for the Seahorse on a school night, you just accept that you’re going to need all the coffees on Friday and go enjoy the show. Baldwin and his band were celebrating the impending release of No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five), the full-length debut from Baldwin. The great thing about this album release party was that it was also a partial fundraiser for the Rehtaeh Parsons Society (a non-profit society focused on prevention, education and awareness of sexualized violence, cyber-abuse and wellness), and patrons were asked to donate a couple of dollars to support this great cause.
The moment Baldwin hit the stage sporting an American flag leather jacket, you just knew that it wasn’t gonna be worn for too long, as the Seahorse was pretty warm before the crowd began filing in. After Scrapes wrapped their set, and the sold-out crowd arrived, the room was little more than a beer-soaked sauna with speakers. After the band opened with the title track from the new album, “Love On the Rocks” and “Leaving on a Whim”, the jacket was jettisoned to the back of the stage so that the artist we’ve affectionately dubbed Lil’ Bruce could properly introduce the audience to his new material.
The bulk of the set was comprised of material from the new album, and with each additional tune it was clear that Baldwin has stepped out of his big brother Matt Mays’ shadow and has established himself as a musical force on the East Coast. Baldwin almost seemed sheepish as he stepped on stage, but the moment he picked up his guitar he was a man possessed. It was clear that Adam was meant to be on stage and play music. It’s not just that Baldwin plays a mean guitar, or writes these great stories in his songs, it’s the additional cultural or societal weight they carry, with tracks such as “Rehtaeh” or the lead single “Daylight”. These tunes are great rock songs unto themselves, but once you dig into the lyrics you can see the indelible marks that both the Rehtaeh Parsons saga and the recent federal election left on the Dartmouth-based songwriter.
When all was said and done, Baldwin put on one of the best shows I’ve been privy to in a long time (not to mention the epic cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” to close the show). It was pure rock n’ roll, sweaty, loud and unabashed; it’s a show that I was glad I wore earplugs to, otherwise my ears would still be ringing today. The coffee consumption the following morning was more than worth it to see a show of that calibre. If you missed out on the album release party, you’d be wise to snap up tickets for the Metric show during Halifax Jazzfest, as Adam and his band are kicking things off on that night. Lastly, if you dug Baldwin’s eponymous debut EP, you’ll be right at home with his full-length debut No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the performance of the opening act Scrapes. For an act I was largely unfamiliar with, and really expected something of a scrappy punk vibe from, I was thoroughly impressed. The band has this great retro-rock vibe which is very reminiscent of both Adam Baldwin and Matt Mays, and the pop-undercurrent just draws you in and holds you there. All in all, this is a band I want to see again as I was blown away by just how good they were. I couldn’t recommend checking these guys out more.