Even placed in the undersized halls of Mavericks, the Golden Dogs looked at home clambering atop the small stage like travelling hobos. And the Toronto quintet's upbeat, ramshackle pop couldn't have sounded better in a packed house.
There was an almost telepathic interplay between the band members, with husband and wife duo Dave Azzolini and Jessica Grassia becoming ever consummate showmen. This was never more clear than on the staccato guitar and hammering piano of "Permanent Record," while Taylor Knox's muscular drumming anchored the show through a mix of showboat drum rolls and simple back beats.
The set leaned heavily on material from last year's Coat of Arms, the romping "Weapon" best showing off Azzolini's impressive pipes. Yet the Dogs mingled newer work with older material and covers with ease; most surprising was Azzolini's perfectly trampish take on Tom Waits's "Rain Dogs," played on a travel guitar. Showstopper "Elevator Man" swung from the springy ska guitar of the verses to the pummelling choruses, Pixies style. The rollicking mod pop of "Dear Francis" was another highlight.
The small things made the show, as Grassia hurriedly broadcast each song title to the audience with a succession of homemade signs. Despite the Dogs' predilection for buoyant Wings-esque pop, they were just as comfortable rocking out. Terse guitars propelled "Yeah" forward, handclaps and maracas trailing behind as Azzolini gave his lungs a workout.
The Dogs took a bow after a pulsating version of Wings' "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five," all swirling keyboards and cooing vocals. They walked off drenched in sweat, their reputation for bringing the house down now well established.