The Gories were a major part of Detroit's garage rock scene from 1986 to '93 before the trio broke up and its members went on to other projects. They reformed for a European tour last year and are now making their way across North America, including a July 16 stop at Toronto's Lee's Palace that drew 350 enthusiastic fans.
But The Gories weren't the only attraction on Friday night.
Toronto's Youth Crime, which idolizes The Gories and has the same two singer/guitarists and a female drummer lineup, opened the show in support of its recently released five-song, self-titled EP. Neither of singers Bev and Adam have classic voices, but they somehow suit the material — a sparse, lo-fi indie rock sound that at times is reminiscent of The Fall and Joy Division.
The set included songs from the EP, highlighted by "Mean Moe Tucker," a cut about the former female drummer for The Velvet Underground. Young drumming sensation Daria Ludwiczak (who looked hot behind the kit) nailed that one and everything else performed, including a cover of The Professionals' under-appreciated "Join The Professionals." Youth Crime also brought out a zealous fan base of young women who held up signs and shouted encouragement throughout the group's time on stage.
Another Toronto trio, Catl, was next. The band plays raw, punked up Delta blues with occasional flourishes of vintage organ that takes things to another level. Catl has been one of my favourite local live bands for the past year and even if this year's With The Lord For Cowards You Will Find No Place can't match the intensity found on stage, it still rates a very solid 7/10.
Lead singer/guitarist Jamie Fleming may be the most energetic performer you'll ever see who uses a chair to perform, singer/organist/percussionist Sarah Kirkpatrick looks and sounds great, and drummer Johnny LaRue keeps a steady beat while resembling a young Fidel Castro behind his drum kit.
The room kept steadily filling up by the time The Gories took the stage at 12:15 a.m. Singer/guitarists Mick Collins (The Dirtbombs) and Dan Kroha (Demolition Doll Rods) and drummer Peggy O'Neill (looking a bit like mean Moe Tucker in her dark sunglasses) opened with a theme song of sorts, "Hey Hey, We're The Gories."
The raw, bluesy and typically greasy Detroit rock-and-roll (with a pretty heavy raunch factor) continued throughout The Gories' hour-long set, which also included "Queenie" and covers of fellow Motown bands MC5's "Sister Anne" and The Keggs' "To Find Out."
Kroha put down his guitar to play harmonica on the final song, which saw him and Collins lying on stage while still playing. A lot of people, especially the surprisingly large contingent of women (many of whom were heavily tattooed), seemed to be having trouble keeping things together on this last number and during the two encore cuts.
I had no idea that The Gories had a following as large or as intense as what I witnessed on Friday night, but I left impressed by what I saw on stage and in the audience.