Show Thoughts & Shots // Daniel Romano’s Outfit @ The Marquee Ballroom – 19.01.24

Over a week ago, Daniel Romano’s Outfit graced the Marquee Ballroom stage for the second time in the past year.  The last time the prolific musical chameleon brought his talented brood East, the lineup looked a little different than its current iteration, as bassist Tommy Major of Young Guv joined the lineup, and there was a noticeable shift with both Juliana Riolino and partner Roddy Risotti having left the Outfit nest to support Riolino’s solo debut All Blue.

Similar to the band’s last visit to town, a member of the Outfit was tapped to kick the night off, and on this night, the spotlight was shone directly on the wildly talented Carson McHone, a longtime stalwart of the Austin, TX music scene, having cut her teeth in bars since she was 16.  Much like Riolino’s performance last year, it was an alternate configuration for the Outfit, with Romano playing a supporting role, brother Ian holding down the percussion, and Tommy Major handling the bass.  At the same time, Carson stood centre stage and showcased her musical prowess.

Her impressive set consisted of these rock-infused folk tunes; like Romano, there isn’t one distinct genre that McHone can be hemmed into.  This set certainly garnered her several new fans; her sound occupies a similar space to that of Tom Petty, which bore similar tones of rock, folk and country coursing through his discography. McHone’s set drew heavily from her 2022 release Still LIfe and featured the gem “Hawk’s Don’t Share.” Being at the top of the bill, McHone maximized the time allotted and whet the appetite of this patron.

In the middle of this Outfit sandwich were atmospheric prog-rockers Walrus.   These local favourites have a distinct sound incorporating elaborate soundscapes that would make Rich Aucoin proud, with some indie-shoegazing ala Wintersleep and a degree of scrappiness reminiscent of early Sloan.  On this night, drummer Jordan Murphy added a definite punk edge and heaviness to the proceedings.   There was also an added degree of flair from frontman Justin Murphy, who rocked a retro teal snow/ski suit throughout the band’s performance.  He was looking for that zipper about halfway through, as it had become something of a personal sauna.

Considering the band concluded their undetermined hiatus in 2023, it was a definite treat to see the band for the first time in nearly a decade after having my mind blown back in 2015 when the band opened for Spencer Burton (a former bandmate of Daniel and Ian Romano in Attack in Black).  While Walrus’ hibernation was well underway, Justin and Jordan Murphy were busy establishing themselves in the Halifax music scene, and their Walrus bandmates were doing the same as Keith Doiron has his solo project Verry Gerry, and Justin McGrath is the lead in local prog-rock outfit Shadow Folk, making Walus something of a local supergroup.    This set showcased the absolute magic Walrus brings to the stage, and they topped their set off with a potential Big Shiny Tunes sneak peek cover of Sheryl Crow’s “If It Makes You Happy.”

Then, it was time for Daniel Romano’s Outfit to return to the stage. Carson and Daniel swapped places on stage; Carson provided additional tambourine percussion and backing vocals, and Daniel took center stage to sing, lead and play guitar.    The moment the Outfit launches into their set, you’re in for a special night, even if the band barely pauses to catch its breath.  Romano lets his work stand on its own merits front and centre, and simply hopes you can keep up, the breakneck pace at which the band churned through 20 tracks was astounding.  Not only for the pace at which they moved but also for the unity and tightness that they showcased.

Some were worried that the band’s chemistry might be lost with the departure of Riolino, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  While that former iteration of the band bore strong similarities to 60’s and 70’s rock n’ roll, this new iteration draws that line a couple of decades forward with a sound that is more akin to the scrappier indie garage-rock sound of the late 90’s early 2000’s complete with matching leather jackets adorned with both the Outfit logo as well as the Preservers of the Pearl crests.     This set veered away from the massive tracks of La Luna and those from Cobra Poems but featured a swath of cuts from the forthcoming Too Hot to Sleep album, with the rest of the set rounded out by his prolific songbook.   It wasn’t until the encore that Romano and the Outfit offered up a pair of Cobra Poems gems (“Nocturne Child” and “Animals Above Our Town”).

This show demonstrated Daniel Romano’s Midas touch, with his musicianship and the ability to surround himself with a wealth of equally talented musicians.  How he cultivates and nurtures that talent is impressive and proves itself through the performances given on stage.   There is a wealth of talent in this country,  but Daniel Romano continues to prove why he is one of the most talented and exciting acts in the country—looking forward to the release of Too Hot to Sleep later this year.

Daniel Romano’s Outfit


Carson McHone

About the author


A proud and over-caffeinated husband, father, runner and writer. I've written for the local weekly The Coast for over a decade and have since taken to creating and writing for HAFILAX for even longer. I hope you enjoy the musings of a guy who has loved music for the better part of 4 decades, and has an album of concert tickets to show for it.