Picture last June: Toronto's legendary Horseshoe Tavern is packed with sweaty, beer-filled bodies, lanyards a'swinging, as Hey Rosetta! charms the North by Northeast festival crowd right out of their skinny jeans. No one moves as the band leaves the room---except to grab another drink from Teddy Fury, who has the best hair of any bartender around, or to move closer to a ceiling fan. Rumours fly that the lineup to get into the club is snaking down Queen Street.
A group of guys with mostly long hair---the kind of lid that happens when you're not paying attention---file onto the stage, comfortably taking their places behind instruments. Then, screams and whistles as Matt Mays & El Torpedo launch right into "Building a Boat," off their five-time 2008 ECMA-nominated album Terminal Romance.
"Let's see some hands on a Saturday night," Mays yells from under his cap as the drums kick in. It's a cry heard in rock arenas the world over. The crowd, losing any aloof indie shyness, whoops and hollers back. Before that night, it seemed like a stretch that this Dartmouth band would open for Kid Rock for seven dates later that summer. But after this night, it's apparent that El Torpedo will be just fine and probably win a few new fans while entertaining the southern rocker set. The music's gritty and hook-heavy.
This weekend, the band takes over another legendary stage at The Marquee Club, which has about a month left under this name. See them here in their hometown, while you can. If you happened to catch the band's hilariously cheesy short film Dartmouth Werewolf in Dover (directed by Andrew Watt and co-written with Mays) at the Atlantic Film Festival, you know the guys are at their best riffing out, rather than acting in front of a camera.