Review and photos – Born Ruffians at The Rickshaw Theatre, March 12 2011
– review by Heather Welsh/photos by Jason Statler
After touring with a vast range of amazing artists including Franz Ferdinand, Caribou, Peter Bjorn and John and Hot Chip, Toronto’s Born Ruffians are now getting some time in the spotlight touring North America as headliners.
On Saturday night, the indie-rock quartet formerly known as Mornington Drive played a packed show at Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre. Currently signed to pioneering English label Warp Records, Born Ruffians is Luke LaLonde (guitar/vocals), Mitch Derosier (bass), Steven Hamelin (drums), and Andy Lloyd (guitar/keyboard), who fills in for the live shows.
Their tour support comes from fun female Weezer tribute band Sheezer. The Vancouver show was only their second stop on the tour bus, and you could tell. All members of both bands were really ready and raring to go.
As soon as Born Ruffians hit the stage the energy level in the venue rose. LaLonde’s voice is great, his delivery poppy and eloquent, and he spills lyrics beautifully. His appearance on indie electronic act Caribou’s album Swim in the song “Jamelia” is the perfect mix of enticing vocals and pulsating electronics and sets him aside from other indie singers.
He really got the Saturday night audience going. Hamelin’s charisma also shone through – his drum-kit was as far forwards as the rest of the band so the audience could see him fully as he chatted away, “This is the best show so far and it’s only our second. So we’ve got a lot to live up to!”
People were going crazy up front and even in the balcony above. The band looked up to the jumping fans and gave an appreciative nod or a point. Highlights included “Sole Brother” and “What To Say” a single from the latest Born Ruffians album, Say It.
Presaging the main act, four-member Sheezer performed in the same set up, with the drummer in line with the rest of the band. Full of energy, they blasted out Weezer hits including “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So” while putting their own twist on the songs. When they came to “My Name Is Jonas”, bassist Laura Barrett playfully asked the audience to “pretend to be harmonicas.” In true girl-band style, they all took turns taking lead vocals and skillfully did justice to Weezer’s ‘90s classics.
Their only faux pas was inviting two friends onstage to sing a verse; the guys were clearly under the influence and way too out of it to form the right words. Maybe next time you should stay off the triple vodkas beforehand, Sheezer-friends.