The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer / Ben Rogers

Distrikt Nightclub, Victoria BC, January 24

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer / Ben RogersDistrikt Nightclub, Victoria BC, January 24
Photo: Kim Jay
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On a night featuring a couple of "up and coming" indie blues and country bands, you would expect a young hip crowd out in full force, but the vast age range of people at Distrikt shows that the resurgence of blues rock is so entertaining, no one can stay home.
 
The sudden, thundering guitar strums Ben Rogers opened with took the audience completely off guard. The club transformed from a posh lounge into a grungy country bar, as suddenly as if someone had dropped an entire circus full of empty peanut shells from the ceiling. Ben Rogers gleefully embraced the famous country cliches as eagerly as a child inhales a bag of candy. Revelling in gratuitous blues solos and the bright, warm sound of the lap steel guitar, his epic closer knocked his own hat and the audience's socks, clean off.
 
The time for being fresh and clean had officially ended — it was about to get sweaty. Energy simply erupted from the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer the moment the bristling harmonica roared to life. There is something physically gripping about the harmonica, separating it from almost all other instruments. This is especially true for Shawn Hall's style. Each distortion pedal he uses gives it a raw animalistic costume that is blues to the core, sounding like an enormous black bear on "Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To," and snarling like a cougar on "Feel Me Now."
 
Despite sitting down, the Harpoonist worked up quite a sweat. He swayed back and forth like a drunken sailor on stormy waters, as the Axe Murderer's thumping bass drum and wailing guitar struggled to keep him on solid ground. Matthew Rogers, the Axe Murderer, provided a dependable, skilful backup, while staying almost entirely out of the spotlight until the end, where he ran wild with a couple of solos.
 
The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer are an expert twist on the common two-member band. Instead of accepting a stripped-back aesthetic, they maxed out their sound, assuring no limb was wasted.
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