It was boys’ night at Santos Party House yesterday as the men of the Ambassadors, Postelles and Arkells brought out their shiny guitars, scruffy beards and slim-fitting pants for a thoroughly satisfying night of dude-rock.
Ambassadors opened up the show with a slightly less dance-y, slightly more sexy vibe. There’s an incredible ease to the powerful and spot-on vocals of singer/guitarist/percussionist/everything-ist Sam Harris that make Ambassadors immediately attractive as a live band. The Postelles closed the show with a high-energy set of fan favorites—the hometown band was clearly the one that most had come to see—with Frankie Valli‘s indie-rock version Daniel Balk leading the way. The two singers have the same high-pitch, almost nasal tone, and as awful as that combination sounds, somehow it works, and everyone there was digging it.
Sandwiched between these two excellent bands were the Arkells. Fronted by bearded, dark-haired, adorable dude Max Kerman, the Hamilton, Ontario, natives opened with a personal favorite off of their newest album, Michigan Left, “Coffee.” Everyone was expected to dance, with Kerman interjecting some interesting moves of his own, wandering around the stage and acting out lyrics to songs. His moves and rapport with his bandmates were oddly charming, and his dance routines made the whole vibe of the show feel a lot friendlier and more casual.
Perhaps coincidentally, “Ballad Of Hugo Chavez” was next up, and seeing as no one mentioned the recent death of the Venezuelan leader, I’m going to assume that it had been on the setlist anyway. Ironic or not, it’s a solid track that shows off what the Arkells do best: a catchy chorus with some hey hey heys to sing along with, a great piano and guitar riff, and Kerman’s rough-around-the-edges vocals to tie it all together.
Arkells also dropped a couple of covers into their set. “Stand By Me” called on Daniel from the Postelles and Sam from Ambassadors for help and got the crowd singing, though not as much as their second cover, the Clash’s “Rock The Casbah.” I’m not entirely sure what a casbah is, but they did indeed rock it, and picked up a few new fans while doing it.