Acres of Lions Rok Boutique, Toronto ON March 12

Acres of LionsRok Boutique, Toronto ON March 12
Victoria's Acres Of Lions performance on the kick-off night to Canadian Music Week definitely set them up as a band to watch throughout the festival, if not throughout 2009. Their brand of prairie-bred indie-pop-punk boasts eerily similar melodies and song construction to the Ataris circa 2003, but adds just enough Canadian flair and solid originality to forgive the borrowed riffs.

Like Ataris singer Kris Roe, vocalist Jeff Kalesnikoff sailed through songs about regrets and mistakes, admitting he's only human. He added dimension to the performance with his honesty and avoided mimicking most of Roe's whining. AOL possess a substance that goes beyond influences and digs into personal stories that use clever words and rhymes to hide the fact much of the music is really about lost love and broken hearts.

They added energy, passion and charisma where many bands would get lost. Between songs, they encouraged sing-alongs and impromptu dance parties, which at times they nervously did a little too often rather than letting the music speak for itself. The set might have benefited from a hometown advantage, but they didn't do too shabby for 4,000 kilos out of their element and a tough, but appreciative Toronto crowd.

Tracks "Closer" and "Fine Examples" from their new album Working were standout performances of the night proving AOL can carry themselves well live and succeed in making people dance and rock out. Each member showed great stage presence, including bassist Dan Ball, who according to some banter, apparently once had a spider crawl out of his big bushy beard. The CMW gigs are stops on their current cross-Canada tour, which will get them home in time to play Junofest at the end of March. This is definitely a band to keep on the radar.