This past Friday at Toronto’s Velvet Underground was a night chock-full of re-openings, releases, and general hearing loss. Headlining the show at the newly renovated, eclectic, alt-rock venue were Barrie natives Indian Handcrafts. The kick-ass two-piece composed of guitarist Daniel Allen and drummer Brandyn Aikins were there to celebrate the release of Creeps, their second full-length album since signing with Sargent House. They were accompanied by an impressive line-up displaying the finest of Toronto’s underground rock scene. While Diemonds riled up excitement for their album Never Wanna Die, which was Juno-nominated for Heavy Metal Album of the Year, both opening acts Hounds and Sierra set the tone for what was to be an ear-shatteringly good time.
Not surprisingly, the crowd present for the show echoed the vibe of the “rough-on-purpose” Velvet Underground; black attire and long hair were in no short supply. Here were the people who came to hear loud, hard, and fast music, and they were by no means disappointed (myself included). By the time I was able to get in the venue, a sufficient smokers circle had been established outside, while inside there was an unmistakable air of pre-show electricity. Despite entering the stage around nine as the first of four bands, Kitchener’s stoner-rock three-piece Sierra were well received both by their own fans and others who showed up early enough to listen. Following Sierra were Hounds, who are touring for their latest EP Wild Eyes. These guys rocked the ever-increasing crowd with their heavy, in-your-face punk vocals.
Shortly after came the much anticipated Diemonds. Boasting a limited edition vinyl release of Never Wanna Die, Diemonds had their fair share of fans present to hear them. Lead by their electric front woman Priya Panda, Diemonds reminded me of some kind of revitalization of the 80s rock attitude of Guns N Roses or Motorhead mixed with the sheer energy and talent of Heart’s Wilson sisters. Backed by her “Bad Pack” of rockers, Diemonds delivered an intense and promising show to their undeniable fans, the “Die-hards” that showed up to catch them live before they head west for the Juno Awards.
By the time midnight rolled around, the Velvet Underground had gradually filled up to what looked like almost capacity. When Indian Handcrafts got on stage, the crowd seemed the furthest thing from worn out. As usual, Indian Handcrafts were loud as all hell (my ears are still ringing as I type this) and they captivated the entire venue. Playing a mix of favourites off of their previous album Civil Disobedience For Losers (such as “Centauri Teenage Riot”) and their new album Creeps, the two delivered yet another incredible performance that would satisfy any fans of their music.
As they swung into newer material, you got the sense of a slight change in direction in terms of their sound. While Creeps is certainly heavier than their previous album that everyone seemed to know off by heart, newer tracks such as “Maelstrom” contain all of the elements that make Indian Handcrafts brilliant, and hint at their potential as a relatively young band. As always, they were louder, tighter, and groovier than most, and they remain not only one of my favourite bands, but one of my favourites to see live. Whereas many bands tend to lose their “rawness” as they gain in popularity, it seems as if Indian Handcrafts are just getting started.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson