You can be sure that the streets of Halifax are still littered with a handful of ECMA zombies, who enjoyed an event-laden weekend and are still not fully recovered. Fortunately for Taylor Knox and The Beaches, very few were dissuaded by the prospect of another concert, which followed so hotly on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the East Coast Music Awards. On a Tuesday night, a legion of Haligoons happily turned out for a relatively early dose of Upper Canadian Rock n’ Roll with the pair of Toronto-based acts.
Taylor Knox was making a return to the Seahorse stage after his 2017 Pop Explosion showcase, and he brought his band along for the trek. Without knowing (and quite possibly forgetting) Knox’s backstory on his most recent release Love, you can hear a distinct Chris Murphy/Sloan vibe in Taylor’s vocal delivery, but in doing a little research you’ll quickly find that the Sloan feel is hardly a coincidence. The singer-songwriter tapped Andrew Scott to help hone his sound on his previously released EP Lines. That direct influence was clearly apparent when Knox, Liam Jaeger and Aaron Harvey hit the stage, but as poppy as the latest Knox record is, they turned up the rock to a full and aggressive 11. Last night’s set hit hard, and was the perfect opening for the onslaught that was to follow from the Toronto four-piece The Beaches.
Plenty of bands can hop on stage, and grind out a perfectly adequate set. They’ll even go through the trite exercise of hiding off stage for a specified amount of time while the crowd hoots, hollers and stomps until the band returns to complete their set. It can all be quite rote, and these performances may even resonate with a few folks in the room, but there is nothing about the performance that sparkles, or is remotely special. Some nights, there is something in the air where everything culminates in this dazzling aural explosion on stage, and it resonates throughout the room. Tuesday night in the Seahorse Tavern was one of those nights.
When I walked through the doors and was presented with my wristband, there was a small gathering of folks in the room, but over the course of the subsequent hour it would grow to be a mighty crowd. In looking around, you could see a handful of notable Halifax artists such as members of Like a Motorcycle, Mo Kenny, and Barb Cameron, all here to experience what The Beaches had to offer. Drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel took to the stage first, taking her place behind her kit and proceeding to hammer out a beat, welcoming Kylie, Jordan and Leandra to the stage. Once assembled, the band launched into “Back of my Heart” and we were off and running. As these ladies wound their way through a large swath of their debut album The Late Show (which also included a cover of The Ronette’s “Be My Baby”), it built, slowly and steadily, into their smash single “Money”, which nearly brought the house down. It was at that point where the show hit its first real crescendo, one that it had been slowly building from those opening drum strikes.
Haligoons were properly introduced to these ladies back in January when they were at the top of the July Talk/Matt Mays bill over at the Scotiabank Centre. It was an all-too brief set, where we got a taste of The Beaches experience, and while the ladies were afforded a much larger stage on which to roam, the Seahorse show provided the perfect space to harness that pure rock n’ roll energy of these 4 ladies from Toronto; from Leandra Earl’s double duty on both keyboards and guitar, to the relentless bombastic barrage that Eliza unleashed on her battle-worn drum kit. Then there was the tandem of Kylie and Jordan Miller, Kylie handling guitar and backing vocals, and Jordan who plays bass and is the lead vocalist of this four-piece rock outfit. The band is as tight as any currently on the road, and one that has crafted a sound which is forged with a pop-rock base, but hits as hard as early Iron Mike Tyson. These ladies absolutely crushed their set on Tuesday night, and rewarded the legion of fans who turned out for a relatively early show with an absolutely legendary performance. This is certainly in the running for my favourite show of 2018, my soul is still buzzing today from yesterday’s experience.
If you have a chance to see The Beaches, run, don’t walk to the local ticket vendor, as those tickets should move fast. You can be well assured that I will be in attendance the next time they play a show in Halifax, as I walked in a casual fan, but walked out a die-hard one. The Beaches found a way to touch the back of my heart with their soul-affirming performance. One thing is certain, they would be well served by the larger Marquee stage next time they roll through town.