New Year’s Eve is one of the most precarious holiday events of the year. It’s an evening with big expectations that are supposed to foreshadow the coming 365 days. If this is the case, Jesse Roper is going to have another insanely successful year.
As I made my way into Sugar Nightclub, someone was already being escorted out for being too festive. The doors had only opened a half hour earlier, and there was already a tangible buzz in the air. The crowd was a mixture of Canadian tuxedos, high heels, glittery things, neckties, and flannel. Age varied from barely legal drinking age to folks contemplating early retirement. Jesse Roper is the great uniter of music fans.
The lights dimmed to an unfocusable red haze that would be better suited for darkroom film developing than photo taking. This was the cue for the first act to take the stage.
Fox Glove has always been a band on my radar, but one I’ve unfortunately missed many times. That’s a mistake I won’t make again. These three immensely talented ladies are gifted singers, songwriters, and musicians. Each taking turns singing lead on several songs and harmonizing in the chorus. Those type harmonizes that bring a chill to your spine when you hear them. They also know how to have one hell of a backing band, with Sam Weber on guitar, Esme John on bass, and Dougal Bain on fiddle.
By the time Fox Glove’s set was done the floor of Sugar was noticeably stickier from spilled drinks and falling glitter. Before Band of Rascals’ set was done, I’m sure the floor had more beer, vodka, and Redbull on it than most people had in their glasses.
Cobble Hill’s Band of Rascals is a band which isn’t afraid to plug in their guitars while airing out their feet. If I thought my shoes were sticky after the show, I wonder what their bare feet were like. Also, isn’t that a recipe for getting electrocuted?
Band of Rascals’ high energy sets are always filled with the antics you’d expect at an Evaporators show. It’s guitar player Malcom Owen-Flood’s trips into the crowd that are always fantastically fun to watch, and New Year’s Eve was no different. Malcom piggy-backed on a crowd member — while soloing — was a sight to be seen. All while their guest cowbell player, Jesse Roper, flew about the stage like a man possessed by the spirit of Blue Oyster Cult. These Rascals put the “rawk” back in rock show.
The first thought I had when Jesse Roper and his band took the stage was “holy shit, they’re like a furry Turbonegro.” If that doesn’t make sense to you, that’s okay. Turbonegro is an outlandish Norwegian punk rock band that most folks around here don’t really know.
Jesse Roper is arguably the artist I’ve seen the most in 2015, and I’m not complaining about it one bit. In fact he was the most submitted artist for this year’s YYJ Rocktographers event happening January 22nd thru 24th at Fort Tectoria *Hint Hint*. Jesse is one of the most humble people I’ve ever met. Often soft spoken and with an almost embarrassed grin on his face if anyone talks about his success. If there is anyone in this town who deserves the admiration and support of the masses, it’s this man. He is an very talented musician. Having a beyond sold out show on NYE has got to be a huge boost of confidence.
I wonder if it was Jesse’s goal to rival Broken Social Scene for having the most people on stage during his concert. The ladies from Fox Glove sang backup vocals, Malcom from Band of Rascals on guitar, local radio host Dylan Willows, and his hype man dancing in a right red unitard, all crammed on stage. This was well before they were joined by the rest of the Fox Glove, Band of Rascals, and a horde of friends at the end of the night.
Moments before the clock struck midnight, I watched a lady tumble down some stairs. She walked it off with a little help from her friends as Jesse and Co. broke into Auld Lang Syne. 2016 clearly wasn’t going to keep this lady down.
There was no better way to celebrate the new year than in a room full of friends and fans of Jesse Roper. He brings out the best of Victorians.