COMMONWEALTH BAR & STAGE, CALGARY
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28TH
By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – Showing up late to a party is a benefit from time to time, being I’d never seen Daniel Romano live before. There’s no real reason for it, just a trick of time. Coming to something everyone you love who loves music already loves is like finding something brand shiny new and you immediately see why they dig it, and dig it hard too.
It was loud from the start, Highway ‘61 twang and pace, played by handsome devils doing their own charlestons, shimmies, and twists, all swing and stagger to the same wave, tucked in shirts and prominently displayed backsides.
There was wildly precise flailing in the guitar tone, thick, boomy roundness bottoming out the crisp highs, a class A sizzle and burn, those frequencies high in tune with Romano’s manic tenor. His, and the band’s energy from the first bar left no space for narrating the song before just getting to it, and the set flowed seamlessly without those expected transitions. It was T. Rex, the Dolls, The Kinks, unapologetically strutting.
Openers Dead Soft, seemingly on endless tour, played at a level that eclipsed their previous date in Calgary when they opened for The Dirty Nil and Eamon McGrath a few months ago. They sound like heavy ’90’s alt-rock, or perhaps earlier than that. Maybe closer to The Pixies, when what became alternative rock was being shaped in the underground, with some guitar harmonies thrown in because why not? Thin Lizzy is always gonna be cool.
commonwealth Bar & Stage, Daniel Romano, Dead Soft
Obviously everyone who was there knows the band bawled out the sound guy, and whether that’s gracious or not or anything else shouldn’t bother anybody. It was entertaining, because it’s easy to create a polite memorable moment, but they all get drowned out. Get too used to too much earnestness and too little sharp fun, and the edge on a whole sense of humour gets shaved off. Not everyone has the live chops or the high-calibre catalogue to pull that shit though, it’s what someone who’s already done it all does to make sure you remember you were there. Daniel Romano’s set at Commonwealth Thursday was one holy-shit-that’s-cool after another.