When I was in Toronto, ON, I went to a few supposed “dive bars.” They were really clean and had a lot of good beer on tap. I was disappointed. Brasserie Beaubien is a true dive bar. Dimly lit with the occasional neon light illuminating a few spots, some sexy VLT machines peppering the back wall, your choice of either blonde or red beer on tap (coup de grisou only), and a bathroom that would be at home in any haunted hovel. It was an excellent ambience to witness a night of raw surf/punk music, and witness it I did.
First up was DBPS. They are a three-piece that prides themselves on thick grooves and twangy guitar. They opened with an unreleased track, “Dream Death.” Kay Moon on guitar and Zakary Slax on bass nailed the double vocals for this song; it’s difficult to pull off without a warm-up, so kudos to them. I was doubly impressed by the way the three-piece went from high-energy-hammering on a quick, raunchy beat in “Social Anatomy,” to dropping back into the opening pocket groove with precision. Did I mention that Slax and Moon had changed instruments by then? No? Well, they had. They have a show coming up on the 28th of April at The Bog. Check it out.
Fifteen to Twenty minutes later, the BEEF BOYS took the stage. I’d previously reviewed their album, so I was excited to see them live. First off, they soundexactly like they did on the album; same tone, attack, and raw viciousness. They did a respectable cover of “Wanna Be Your Dog” near the end with bassist Ray Kang, taking over on vocals. I won’t lie, I got excited when they played “Dirty Boys, Dirty Girls.” It was raw and guitarist Germ Sperman splayed a wah pedal overtop the tone in the middle. It was the sound dreams are made of. Of course, it made the kick into the final chorus that much more powerful.
Not just ferocious behind the kit, Brandon Root is also his own stagehand. While pile driving through snappy snare hits, he’d sometimes have to readjust the tom stand or pull the kick back into place. Any drummer who has done this knows how hard it is to keep a beat while keeping the kit in check. They did all this and more while constantly keeping the crowd abuzz with their energy. If you’re in the Toronto area on the 18th of May, they’re playing a gig at The Horseshoe. Do not miss this show!
Sadly, I didn’t get to catch the full set of No Aloha as I had to run to catch the final metro of the night. What I did see, however, was pretty good. Their brand of spaced out, uptempo, Beach Boys surf style tunes was a complete curveball to the show. I liked it. Guitarist Ben Griffiths was confined to a small box, due to the placement of the synth, but he used every inch of it, dancing around; sometimes his hair extended over the makeshift border. It wasn’t just him enjoying the groove either. The band all moved, as did the crowd. It was good music to take with me on the metro ride back home.
So that was my night at a dive. What’s your favourite dive bar for live music?
For full photo set click here.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy