Less than two weeks after the Rifflandia music festival, Lucky Bar hosted arguably one of the best rock shows of the year from Canadian indie rock royalty, Julie & The Wrong Guys, with Victoria’s No Liars opening.
Since No Liars‘ debut back in the summer of 2015, this hardcore emo band has grown in speed and ferocity. The ever-present raw and emotional lyrics of vocalist Morley Graff, coupled with the melodic harmonies of Noah Edwards, each song is a call to arms to those who grew up in the punk and hardcore scenes of the late 1990s and early 2000s. A refreshing new take on the music of our youth, but with healthy dose of nostalgia. It should come as no surprise that they have often been compared to the likes of Canadian post-hardcore act Alexisonfire.
No Liars seemed to be a near-perfect pairing for the full-on evening. The band relished in their new material from a forthcoming album, but returned to the songs off their self-titled EP. Their radio single, Catalyst, remains a standout during all their live performances.
Towards the end of No Liars’ set, vocalist Morley Graff leapt off the stage with microphone in hand to join the 7 or 8 people that had started a mini mosh pit on the dance floor of Lucky Bar. There Morley was joined by members of local rock band Malahat, who joined in the fun by screaming lyrics into the mic with him.
We don’t see No Liars on the roster of many shows these days, but that might be the secret to their success locally: keep us wanting more.
Julie Doiron is no stranger to fuzz, distortion, and heavy guitar riffs. She cut her teeth during the ’90s with the band Eric’s Trip, and the Moncton, New Brunswick indie rock band made history when they were the first Canadian act to sign to the legendary record label, Sub Pop.
Add Canadian musician Eamon McGrath and Cancer Bats’ rhythm section, Mike Peters and Jay Schwarzer, and you have Julie & The Wrong Guys. Or as Dorion lovingly referred to her bandmates, “The Bruisers.”
Early in the concert, Doiron lamented that this was a long overdue return to Victoria as she hadn’t played here in roughly five years; a feeling shared by many fans in the audience that night, but we’re happy she’d had finally made the trip back with The Wrong Guys in tow.
Before the the show, several fans shared stories fondly of watching Julie Doiron hobble around the stage in a foot cast with Gord Downie and The Country of Miracles during their Rifflandia 3 performance in 2010.
Julie and The Wrong Guys played their debut full length album front to back. A heavy, sweaty, and fun set filled with hair flips. Throughout the set, bassist Jay Schwarzer and Julie played off each others’ energy, while Eamon McGrath would occasionally retreat to a dark corner of the stage only to emerge with a flying scissor kick-style jump.
Their new album has elements of singer-songwriter moments from Julie and Eamon, and those Cancer Bats-inspired crunchy punk sounds. When you bring that energy to a live show, it gets to that loud kind of fun that’s worth the ringing in your ears the next morning.
Julie proudly pointed out a few times that she was 45 and a mother playing with a rock band that shreds. A well-earned badge of honour in our books.
The evening’s encore featured new heavier arrangements of Doiron’s songs No More and Wrong Guy. Yes, the band got their name from the latter song. Both originally filled with fuzz and distortion, but with a new life breathed into them with a dose of heavy guitar. It’s going to be hard to hear to the originals the same ever again.
After shows like this, we wonder why acts like Julie & The Wrong Guys didn’t play this year’s Rifflandia. It’s talented Canadian acts that fly under the radar like this that were sorely missed this year during the festival.
Here is hoping that it doesn’t take Julie Doiron and/or The Wrong Guys another five years to get back to our little island home.