I hadn't heard of The Order of Good Cheer until the show. They're from Toronto, they're a little bit punk, a little bit country blues, and a little bit unexpected. Their frontman, Francesco Guidoccio came out all decked in white, pants, shirt and blazer. I thought he looked friendly but tired and disheveled in a very rock and roll kind of way.
They sang about taking it off, marijuana girlfriends and trannies. No, I'm serious. When I type it out it sounds immature and silly, but really they've got a wicked sense of humour in their songs and lyrics. I insist that you go out to their next show to witness them perform Lady Pizzle live. "Oh my god... it's bigger than mine". The few tracks and videos on their mySpace page don't do them justice in showing what a fun live act they are. Also, I'd like to give credit to their ukulele player. Never have I seen a person so enthusiastic about such a tiny instrument. He was really, really into it. That guy was shredding!
The second band of the night was Hollerado. Oh, Hollerado. I was just as excited to see these guys live as I was to see the Arkells, headlining later that night. They've been one of my new favourites since I found out about them last month and downloaded their record, Record In A Bag, for free on their official site. They sell their home-burned album at shows in Ziplocks, use doot-do-doos instead of la-la-las, send postcards to their fans, and exude an all-around aura of fun and good times. Last month they won $250,000 at a battle of the bands type gig hosted by Live 88.5, a radio station in Ottawa, and then immediately flew to China for a brief tour and about 24 hours after arriving back in Canada, they played this show.
In addition to spurring shout-along choruses with loud and boisterous crowd-winning tracks from Record in a Bag, they also conducted us through a drunken rendition of "Happy Birthday to... JESUS...", not because they're at all religious, but because Jesus has the best birthday parties. They tossed out paper cups with hand-drawn marker doodles on them, inviting whoever caught them to share a round of shots with them at the bar later. Even the people that weren't familiar with Hollerado's material were jumping and singing "whoa-oh-oh"s and pseduo-moshing. In fact, they were so won over that they continued singing the last song's whoa-oh-ohs even after the band left the stage!
Hollerado - Do the Doot Da Doot Doo (mp3) (download the album free at hollerado.com)
And of course, to top of the night- The Arkells.
You know how some people talk with their hands? One of my favourite things about seeing the Arkells live is that their lead vocalist, Max Kerman, sings with his hands. If the lyrics of a song tells you to reach out, he'll raise his palms to the sky. If the lyrics say that "there's no room for the sweaty", like in their hit single, Oh, the Boss is Coming!, he'll wipe his brow with a sleeve. It's the most charming thing. I think you should click here to vote for Max, or Arkells guitarist Mike DeAngelis, at Chart Attack's annual poll for sexiest Canadian man... Currently, Deryck Whibley is winning.
This was not your regular Arkells set. This was their Holiday Motown Dance Party. The entire tavern was singing along to Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Four Tops covers, just to name a few. You could tell that the guys in the band were having a genuine good time playing an entire show of songs that they loved without having the obligation of playing songs that they wrote. It was a very fun-loving and care-free vibe that they spread through the crowd. It's kind of like there was an unspoken but mutual agreement between the band and the audience that they'd play whatever the hell they wanted, and make Beck references whenever they wanted, and invite their friends onstage whenever they wanted, and the audience only encouraged it further.
There were actually a lot of people that shared the stage with the Arkells that night, including Josh Tranger from the Sam Roberts Band, and this guy:
"This guy" is actually a dude from local Toronto band, Dinosaur Bones. He got his very own rap interlude during the Arkell's rendition of Ms. Jackson (wooo!). Isn't he awesome with his facial hair and Casa Loma t-shirt? I've changed my mind; you should vote this guy for Chart Attack's sexiest Canadian man of 2009. He joined them onstage once again with Order of Good Cheer and a handful of guys I don't recognize for a massive rendition of Don't Let Me Down.
Some might call this a dance party. Some might call it a fine bromance. Some might call it a sausagefest. In any case, it was definitely one of the highlights of the set and it gave everyone at the Tavern a warm, fuzzy, feel-good sensation. What a great way to kick off the holidays.
The Beatles - Don't Let Me Down (mp3) (amazon) (
The Arkells - John Lennon (mp3) (amazon) (iTunes)
Let's do it all again next year, yeah?