Josh Cox

14:39 7th June 2005

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In just over six months, Montreal’s The Dears have achieved a level of success that has seen them graduate from playing in front of a few dozen onlookers (19 October 2004 show at Double Door) to enrapturing the capacity crowd at the Metro tonight.  You know you’ve arrived when jocks in baseball caps take up residency at the front of the stage and beg your drummer for a shot of Jameson for the celebratory encore.  It’s boozing that precludes us from seeing most of the set from openers, LA band Marjorie Fair, but the band’s sound, a swirling mesh of influences – heavy on the Wilco – is pleasing to the ear. 

Their album is called 'Howl Howl Gaff Gaff'.  Their single – to be performed on The Late Show with David Letterman this Thursday (June 9th) – is called 'Very Loud'.  They’re called The Shout Out Louds.  All the ingredients for an early afternoon second stage act at the Warped Tour, right?  Think again.  Their keyboardist/xylophonist looks like a runaway from The Concretes in her Nordic toga.  And tonight, they don’t even have a drummer.  “We are sorry to tell you this,” says singer Adam Olenius, “but our drummer is at a wedding.  It is not for him, it is for his brother, so do not worry, ladies.”  They proceed to play the entirety of their melodic set, with the exception of the last song, backed only by a drum machine, one prompted by a shadowy figure in the soundbooth.  It sounds better than it should.  For the last song, Dears drummer and Jameson dispenser, George Donoso III, fills in the backbeat and the full dynamic of the Shout Out Louds arrives like a burst of sun through muddled fog – something like a Stockholm winter.  

The Dears have smoke and mirrors now – fog machines and light shows.  The song with which they open, built around a bedrock chorus that has Murray Lightburn crooning, “you and I / are the same,” sounds familiar and vital, like something Seal might have done before he pushed schmaltz on Batman soundtracks.  Signature single 'Lost In The Plot' is dismissed early – it’s the second song they play.  There’s a lot of coy posing from the comely keyboardist – knowing winks, stolen glances.  Wonder if she’ll keep this up for 'We Can Have It', the sad, hushed lullaby that sets the morose tone for 'No Cities Left'

Alright, they’re playing it now.  She’s stoic, cool.  But wait, do you hear that?  What’s that sound?  There’s Murray singing, but there’s something else, some shrill noise, competing.  “Last night all the horrible / Things in life stormed through my dreams.”  Keep singing, Murray.  We can barely hear you, but keep it up.  Big guy in the first row, I know you’re hearing it.  You keep turning around.  Turning around to cast derision, to throw scorn at the girl in the third row who will not stop screeching OMIGOD WHATEVERS into something, either her mobile phone’s mouthpiece or her sounding board friend.  Look at the big guy, he’s singing along with Murray.  “And I just want…to SHUT IT UP…shut it down…or shut it off.”  Believe it or not, this soul-destroying display of TALKING LOUDLY WHILE THE QUIET SONG IS PLAYING continues right up to the end, it’s most dignified part, the eerie vocals-only closing refrain:  “It won’t ever be what we want….” SO I WAS THINKING LIKE YEAH MAYBE WE COULD—“It won’t ever be what we want…”—AND I’M LIKE DUH…YOU MARRIED A SHORT MAN—“It won’t ever be what we want…”—SO I SAID TO HIM ‘NO WONDER YOU DON’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND’—“It won’t ever be what we want.”   

Show-going utopia – it won’t ever be what we want.

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