You don’t see tours like this often enough. Two big bands sharing the stage, both of whom are headline-worthy. You’d see a lot of excellent tours like this back in the ’70s, like when AC/DC opened for Black Sabbath on their Technical Ecstasy Tour, or when Stevie Wonder got the crowds primed and ready for The Rolling Stones every night in 1972. There’s one key, obvious difference about this tour with The Damn Truth and The Sheepdogs, though; both bands were born and bred in Canada. But both bands are steeped in ’70s rock influence and the vibe of the entire evening certainly reflected that.
The evening kicked off Montreal heroes, The Damn Truth. This was my third time seeing them, and yet every time I see them, it’s like the first time all over again. This four-piece unit is a powerhouse on stage. Lead singer and guitarist Lee-La Baum doesn’t simply command the stage, she DEMANDS your attention as she belts out some of the most powerful vocals you will ever hear, right up there with incredible women like Janis Joplin or Stevie Nicks. Lead Guitarist Tom Shemer just fucking shreds on the guitar, while Dave Traina and PY Letellier’s drum and bass combo give every song that “oomph” that you feel in your chest when the music starts.
They started their set with “Pirates & Politicians,” and the crowd was immediately into it. You’d never know that The Damn Truth were technically the openers of the evening because they proceeded to play an hour-long set that was all high, no low. Blasting through tunes like “Broken Blues,” “Kinda Awkward,” and “Get With You,” the band never stopped bringing the energy. During their track “Devilish Folk,” a few backup singers took to the stage to share vocal duties with Lee-La. Sadly, I don’t know who they were, but they sounded fantastic. When their set was over, I was once again reminded why The Damn Truth is, and will always be, one of my favourite bands.
At 9:30 sharp, The Sheepdogs hit the stage. It was the last night of their Quebec tour, which included stops in Shawinigan, Jonquiere, Quebec City, Drummondville, and Sherbrooke. The sea of men and women in plaid and Canadian Tuxedos erupted in excitement as Ewan, Ryan, Sam, Shamus, and Jim came on stage and wasted no time playing the opening chords of “Who?” Immediately following that were two massive bangers, “I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be” and “Saturday Night.” It may not have actually been a Saturday night, but it might as well have been. The Sheepdogs absolutely bring the party with them.
Their 90-minute set was comprised of incredible tunes like “Up In Canada,” “Feeling Good,” “Nobody,” and “I Don’t Know.” By the end, it reaffirmed my belief that there’s nothing like a good rock show. No bells and whistles, no elaborate stage setups or gimmicks, just loud guitars and good fucking music. Shows like this don’t come around often enough and when they do, you’re doing yourself a great disservice by not going. The Sheepdogs are one hell of a cohesive unit. Their musicianship is phenomenal and their ability to play through over 20 songs in an evening without skipping a beat is something to behold.
In the spirit of the ’70s, rock and roll was alive and well tonight. Unlike most shows I attend these days, almost no one was on their phone. Everyone was there to take in the music and have a great time with their friends, families, and loved ones. Tonight was all about watching two incredible rock bands play music, while you sat back, watched, had a few beers, and enjoyed the evening. And what an evening it was. Quebec was truly blessed to get such an incredible tour and honestly, I feel sorry that the rest of Canada missed out in it. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time these two amazing bands tour together.
Written by Dominic Abate
Photography by Amanda Hiscock
*edited by Kate Erickson