On Thursday night at The Horseshoe Tavern I finally got my chance to see The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer, These guys are one of the few bands that I have never been able to catch when they have played Kingston or even the Village of Westport. It had been a bit of time since I was that excited to see a band play as much as I was on Thursday night, and holy hell did The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer put on a show.
Starting off the night was a local band called The Key Frames. It was a little bit of a rusty deal on their end as people were still making their way into the Horseshoe Tavern as their went on. This was the one of the very few times where a Banjo actually worked within the electrics of a band. Mind you there were a couple of small spots where the banjo stuck right out and seemed a little out of place with the electric guitar. For me it was just when Theo was picking at a faster rate of speed then Rob was playing on the guitar, then there were times where the Banjo was a perfect fit in the songs. It also helps that The Key Frames sound is quite spacious which lets them play around with different sounds and genres, Bluegrass was a big influence in their songs, then there was a big Beatles influence in a couple of the songs as well. Also right away I got a Blue Rodeo sound from them when Rob picked up the acoustic guitar and was later cemented when he added the Harmonica. Another highlight for me about The Key Frames set was their vocals, so smooth and just the right tone throughout each song. They didn’t raise to vocals to levels that didn’t make sense towards the song and kept them at a nice tone which benefited the song.
By the time The Fugitives took to the stage it was pretty clear that they have a decent fan base here in Toronto. The biggest element that I took away from their set were their harmonies. Throughout their set their vocals definitely reigned out for me, if you are a fan of Folk and East/West Coast music then you are for sure going to enjoy The Fugitives. Their selection of instruments adds for me quite the flavour to their songs as well. Tonight they had a Banjo, Bass, electric Violin, Balalaika, acoustic guitar and also a kick drum played by Adrian. It didn’t take them long tonight in fact after their first verse they had pockets of the floor dancing. For me my favourite songs were their fast paced spoken word songs, mostly due to my enjoyment of East Coast. “Bigger Than Luck” was another song that struck a certain chord with me as well, and it seemed I was not the only one either, as they had the audience revelling in the song as well. There were a few times where they had the audience grasped into a singing their songs along with them. The Fugitives played us songs from a span of their albums, which the audience adorned every minute of their set. One last time I have to say again their harmonies were their key to success of their set for me.
“Who you going to call? Matt Rogers”.The Horseshoe tavern was packed in pretty tight tonight when The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer hit the stage. First thing about their stage setup was their pedal board setups, The amount of different pedals and extras that they have at their disposal was quite interesting. With Shawn’s vocal mic going through the effect pedals he really gave us a show with the different effects at his disposal, and I noticed he even had a small set up of foot tambourines that he used throughout the night but were somewhat lost from the loud bass sound coming out of the speakers. Matt’s guitar was a very rare site for me, with two different patch cables coming out of side and the two rows of dials and switches, then also adding the fact that he is playing a kick drums and snare with his feet as well.
Now I loved throughout their set with being able to compare with what and how I thought they were playing and using certain techniques to find out that I was right and wrong about different aspects in their songs. Matt playing slide is what I got wrong a couple of times, now he did break out the slide later on in the set but because of the way he precisely bends the strings and uses his effects I thought for sure he was using a slide. The use of the thumb pick really involves quick a bit of string picking on his behalf which again I don’t think I would have ever picked up if I didn’t see it for myself. To start off their set tonight they started with a quick vocal rendition of “Roll With The Punches” which is a song off their Checkered Past album and then blended in “Cry A Little” with a seemingly flawless shift. After the first couple of verses in the song Shawn gave us a “Good Evening Horseshoe how you Guys Doin’ It’s been seventeen years lets get this right” which brought on a loud cheer from the audience. Now the dance floor didn’t empty out at all throughout their set, pretty much when one person left two more tried to fill the void. By about halfway through their set I don’t think their clothes could have gotten any sweatier and by the way you could see Matt playing it was a given that this was going to happen, it definitely would be nice to have half the energy that Matt used during the show tonight. Their set list was a great blend of their albums with the songs following a perfect flow into each other.
The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer were not shy at all by trying to get the audience involved with their songs as they had the audience a few times help out with the lyrics. Oh the Timing, their timing was impeccable with each other. When Shawn would go in for a harp solo Matt would have the Kick drum right to the perfect beat and timing for Shawn to start and play through his solos. There was no denying the fact that your body simply just reacts to their music without you even knowing or noticing that your own body is moving around to their songs. By the end of their set The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer played for more than 90 minutes with two encore songs.