Blood Red Shoes Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON October 27

Blood Red Shoes Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON October 27
Blood Red Shoes remember the 1990s clearly. Playing fast and loud, the Brighton, UK-bred duo mined an all-star list of bygone influences – from Veruca Salt and Nirvana to Fugazi and Rainer Maria – in a set that thrived on earnestness and, ultimately, brevity.

A straight-ahead drums/guitar setup has inherent limitations. Similarly composed acts overcome the framework in various ways, including the White Stripes' virtuoso, blues-indebted guitar or Japandroids' playful bravado. Blood Red Shoes stayed closer to the latter, running out of every gate, all hands on deck.

Guitarist Laura-Mary Carter has a fondness for power chords and sporadic distortion, while Steven Ansell's drumming comes from the hit-hard school, à la Dave Grohl. From the outset – a blue-collar, Queens of the Stone Age-evoking take on "It's Getting Boring by the Sea" – they went large and sonorous. When at their best, the band brought anthemic highlights like visceral single "Heartsink," with its yell-along chorus and shredded guitar, and the enthralling, incisive fret-board monotony of "Don't Ask."

Conversely, repetition hampered cuts like "This Is Not for You" – despite the Louise Post-style vocals – and the staid "It Is Happening Again." Also, mall-kid lyricism on "Say Something, Say Anything" (i.e., "how long can you miss someone?") distracted from the track's bombast.

Still batting above average, the well-executed '90s punk homage "Light It Up" and the sticky, rapid-fire chorus on "You Bring Me Down" broke the temporary snag. Judiciously brief and mostly raucous, it was a hands-in-the-air set with passable moshing and amiable swagger.