Show Review: Attack in Black @ Horseshoe Tavern

A Lesson in

Anti-Rockstardom

Attack in Black at The Horseshoe Tavern

Feb 13 2010

 
Since striking it huge in 2006 with their album Marriage, Attack in Black has all but fallen into obscurity.  If you haven’t heard these guys, the best way to describe them would be a Canadian Kings of Leon, before they got big.  They’re a four piece comprised of brothers Ian and Daniel Romaro, guitarist Spencer Burton and bassist Ian Kehoe.  Once playing sold out shows at venues like Toronto’s Kool Haus, tonight they play a $12 show at The Horseshoe Tavern.  A modest move, considering we’ve heard nothing from them in almost a year.  “I think everybody who’s coming tonight is here already”, Spencer tells me earlier in the evening, gesturing to the twenty or so people milling about the bar.  He’s wrong of course; the venue is thisclose to being sold out.  Regardless, tonight the guys teach us a few things about how not to act like rock stars.
 

Lesson #1: Tour with your parents

The first supporting act of the night is actually Attack in Black member Daniel Romaro and his mother.  Not only does playing before your actual performance kinda ruin the hype, but how many rock bands can admit that their parents not only attend their shows, but actually get up on stage with them?
 

Lesson #2: Skip the fake “How ya doin’ (enter city here)?!” bullshit

The guys have admitted in the past that sometimes they just don’t feel like putting on a front for the audience and would rather play to themselves.  Tonight must be one of those nights, as they have very little to say to the audience except for a few “thank yous”.  I understand where they’re coming from, but this philosophy seems to work a little against them as the crowd is not very attentive.  Perhaps the cheap admission attracted the apathetic Queen Street crowd who treat this like any other bar night, holding private conversations despite the show going on in front of them.  Despite how awesome the guys sounded, they seem to lack that thing that makes everyone sit up and pay attention.
 

Lesson # 3: Don’t play your biggest hit

Though the set is mostly comprised of mellow folk rock, the energy spikes a few times during the night.  The crowd really gets into ‘You’re Such an Only Child’; this enthusiasm carries into one of their two major singles- ‘Hunger of the Young’.  Oddly enough, the song that made them big- ‘Young Leaves’, is noticeably absent.  Even from the encore.  True, bands probably get sick of playing their biggest hit night after night. But when you’ve been missing for a year it’s a good idea to remind everyone why they liked you in the first place.
 

Lesson #4: Let your fans steal your glory

The guys return to the stage for their encore and request an audience member to join them on stage.  Always being asked to play super old songs they don’t remember from their hardcore days, they decide to let someone else do it.  A young man joins them to sing ‘Cut and Run’.  While his vocals leave something to be desired, he actually has a lot of stage presence, more than anything we’ve seen all night.  Once the song ends, the band unceremoniously vanishes from the stage, leaving everyone to wonder if there’s more to come.  But then the house lights come up.  It’s over.
 

While Attack in Black played a super show, it didn’t feel like it in the audience.  Maybe it’s my own fault for assuming they’re a bigger deal than they actually are.  It felt more like I was at an indie showcase for an unknown band.  And while there’s nothing wrong with being unpretentious, there’s a fine line between onstage modesty and just being uninteresting; a line that these guys are toeing.
 
(Original publication: Bring Back the Boom Box Magazine- Mar 15 2010)

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About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on March 3, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. They are just a real band and they don’t go through bullshit. That’s why they are the best.

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