Before the headliner began, opening band Fleece captured the audience with their Jazz-style rhythms and a bit of synthesizer, all material from their album Voyager. At times during the set, the place was entranced as the band took the room on a journey through lead vocalist Matthew Roger’s past life. After they finished their set, Born Ruffians slipped out from the shadows and began to rip through their catalogue.
“You guys have been the best crowd so far on the tour,” drummer Steve Hamelin stated to the sweaty St. Patrick’s Day crowd right before crowd-surfing.
The energy was high, the crowd was happy, and the music was bumping. The Ontario band put on a set that not only challenged their own well-polished studio tracks, but also proving to the Nashville area that they had something to say. Lined up against the back of the stage were three soft-glowing, large (really large!) lamps that gave off a mystic impression like something out of Alice In Wonderland. As soon as the band entered with “Ring That Bell,” the crowd erupted into song–jumping and yelling every lyric to Luke Lalonde and Mitch Derosier who were positioned at the front of the stage.
Derosier slung his bass over the crowd swinging his head to Hamelin’s rhythm and bringing energy usually only experienced in someone’s house show with a Chon riff. Andy Lloyd was tucked away to the right of the stage, next to the green room entrance; he smashed the keys and created a beautiful wall of sound, at times atmospheric, allowing Lalonde to soak comfortably into the songs and project his voice across the sea of bodies.
The band played tightly and were well-rehearsed for the tour. What was truly inspiring was seeing people genuinely having fun and communicating with the band. There was less Instagram-posting and more jumping. Each track performed off their newest album Uncle, Duke & The Chief was met with the appropriate amount of energy from the crowd. Both sets exceeded expectations and proved that these bands are worth experiencing.
Photographs by the author