Bleached / Hunters Silver Dollar Room, Toronto ON, April 25

Bleached / Hunters Silver Dollar Room, Toronto ON, April 25
Photo: Ian Gormely
Bleached's penchant for crunchy guitars and sunny, '60s girl-group inspired harmonies are about as a California as they come. Yet, at the quartet's gig at the Silver Dollar in Toronto, lead singer Jennifer Clavin couldn't stop praising Hogtown. "I think it might be my favourite city ever," she enthused early in the band's set. It's easy to see why — Toronto's been good to the band, who played three back-to-back shows at the venue during 2012's North By Northeast festival. Band members even hung around to check out local openers BB Guns rip through a pretty terrific Runaways-esque set before Brooklyn's fearsome Hunters took the stage.

The quartet's debut appearance in Toronto follows a wave of hype from their hometown that helped land them on the cover of the Village Voice back in December. Fronted by the animated Isabel Almeida, it's hard to not be overwhelmed by Hunters' stage show. Pounding drums and singer-guitarist's Derek Watson's chugging riffs borrowed liberally from a variety of early '90s noise-poppers (Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, Sonic Youth) while Almeida crawled, jumped and high-kicked up front, never missing a vocal cue.

Her atonal sing-speak delivery buried the surprisingly catchy yet simple melodies of their EP and their songwriting has yet to quite catch up to their dynamic live show. She never stopped moving through the band's short set. Coupled with Watson's busy Nick Zinner style guitar slathering the proceedings in fuzz, there's no doubt Hunters are one to watch.

The crowd had thinned out somewhat by the time Bleached hit the stage, but those who remained were in it for the long haul. The four-piece quickly wound up their eager audience with blasts of guitar and sugar sweet melodies, culminating early with "Looking for a Fight" before monitor trouble derailed the proceedings. They bounced back with "Searching Through the Past," but found their real groove with slower numbers like "Dead in Your Head" and "Out of My Mind" which benefitted from some extra bottom end heft on the Silver Dollar's small stage. The receptive crowd responded in kind, bopping along with every song.

Peppering their hour-long set with some tasteful covers, Bleached capped off their set with "When I was Yours" a standout from their debut, Ride Your Heart, that they elevated into a searing garage-rock jam. They left the stage before returning for a brief encore finally ending the night with "Dead Boy," having exhausted their catalogue and reaffirming the love affair shared between the band and Toronto.