2017 is slowly beginning to unfold and bands are starting stretch their legs and kick out the jams, with shows starting to pop up as the year gets going. One of these shows was a big old helping of Canadian alt-rock at REBEL nightclub this past Friday – Sam Roberts Band and Hollerado.
Hollerado was up first and the local boys proceeded to reveal a subtle change in their sound as they mainly played tracks from their upcoming new album. The jangly indie pop of their last few records has taken a back seat to more brawny, very 90s inspired alternative rock that suits lead singer Menno Versteeg’s voice well. “Born Yesterday”, the latest radio single, is a solid example of the direction the band’s taken.
Incorporating melodic and structural elements from bands like The Lemonheads, Pavement, and The Killjoys, Hollerado presented a more fully rounded version of themselves with a selection of more aggressive, faster tracks. Only a few of the classic hits made an appearance, including “Juliette”, “Americanarama” and “So it Goes”. The band will however be back in town in April once the new album’s out.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since a shaggy upstart from Montreal blew up the radio with a couple of hit singles but it really has been that long and that upstart is now the accomplished frontman of a thoroughly established band. Sam Roberts and company played a lengthy set filled with both the big hits (which there are quite a lot of now) and songs from the recently released album TerraForm.
The new songs are a continuation of the classic Sam Roberts sound, with the band going back to their roots after experimenting with a new wave pallet on 2014’s Lo-Fantasy. Songs like “Rogue Empire” and “If You Want It” feel like they could have been released at any point during the band’s career, a testament to their strong hooks and timeless feel.
Highlights included a joyous, plugged-in version of “Where Have All the Good People Gone?” and the thunderous, ethereal “Metal Skin”. A bulky 5-song encore filled with hits was also a crowd pleaser and set the tone for what is sure to be another great year for the Sam Roberts Band, and new rock itself.