Move over millennials! Saturday night at The Garrison belonged to Gen X and up! Acid Test may have been just a small blip in Toronto’s burgeoning New Wave movement, releasing two albums and a cassette between 1992 and 1993. But with their official reactivation earlier this year, plus the recording of a brand new album, it was time to see if they’ve held up to the promise of those first few cult-classic releases.
Acid Test’s album release party was somewhat sparsely populated when nTTx first took the stage. Not quite DJ group and not quite band, they looked great in their white dress t-shirts and skinny black ties. Gord Clement, with his bleached blonde hair and commanding voice, seemed to embody the era his band is aiming for. Funnily enough, this is the same era in which Acid Test first made their mark. nTTx are a more recent proposition (forming in 2014), but the Kraftwerk and Skinny Puppy influences are real. In the end, nTTx brought all the techno-loops and vocal effects they needed to show the crowd a good time.
A lot has changed between now and the last time Acid Test took to the stage. Band DJ Mike Harland died in 2012, sparking the initial idea for a reformation. They have also recorded a new EP called Jus’ Rite, in tribute to Harland’s DJ name. The word ‘legendary’ is one of the most overused in the music journalism vocabulary, but Acid Test did write several sleeper hits for some classic Canadian movies, so here it feels justified.
They certainly spared no expense in reminding everyone that this is their triumphant comeback. Walking on to a well-timed light show and video display, complete with lyrics onscreen (courtesy of drummer Tim van de Ven), Acid Test looked like they had something to prove. It’s just a shame that a bad mix deadened their arrival. Shrieks of feedback were not uncommon and Lucy Disanto’s bass hum sometimes drowned out all other sounds. The hardest suffering was keyboardist Atom Percy, whose mic just straight up stopped working for a couple of early songs. He didn’t seem to care too much though, jumping around like a jacked-up bunny rabbit whenever the music allowed him to.
The entirety of Jus’ Rite was played. By the end, it was obvious that this was Acid Test’s best release yet. “Slipping Away” in particular, with its catchy hook and alt-rock swing, could prove to be a new concert staple. Older tracks like “Mr. Skin” and “Blown” showed up too, but not all of them have aged well. Embrace the future, Acid Test! It’s where you have been doing some of your best work!
Overall, the vibe was more like a barbeque than a show. That’s precisely the kind of spirit that keeps bands like Acid Test alive. The underground, especially in genres like this that are well past their mainstream peak, is essentially a gigantic network of friends. Acid Test have survived to write Jus’ Rite on the strength of these underground friendships, and good on them for it. New Wave certainly isn’t dead. It has simply matured.
Written by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson