Public Animal / Shooting Guns / Black Hell Oil Amigos Cantina, Saskatoon SK, January 3

Public Animal / Shooting Guns / Black Hell Oil Amigos Cantina, Saskatoon SK, January 3
Photo: Ryan Smith
Call it the New Year's Eve hangover tour, but Ian Blurton's Public Animal were in fine form when they arrived at Saskatoon's Amigos Cantina despite ringing in 2014 a scant few days earlier in Alberta. Armed with only the two songs leaked online from their debut seven-inch, the group nevertheless managed to whip up a sizeable buzz leading up to their appearance.

But while the group is defined by Blurton's signature guitar heft, fretboard heroics and trademark dude howl, Public Animal's sound is very much rooted in the Hammond drones of keyboardist of Caitlin Dacey, who put in time with Thunder Bay rock group Bella Clava. The twinned vocals also added a nice, albeit vicious, harmonic edge. Onstage the group thrashed and swayed while delivering the sweaty goods. Songs like "Vault Doors" burst at the seams with energy, while the crowd pogoed away their collective fog from the holiday revelries.

Shooting Guns, who took to the stage after Public Animal, are still riding high from the release of their sophomore album Brotherhood of the Ram. On record, the instrumental group adds flourishes of psychedelia and Krautrock to their otherwise doomy riffage. It was the band's first live appearance with a third guitarist in tow, who was brought into to fill in for recently-departed keyboardist Steve Reed, who recently moved to the northernmost edges of the country. The five-piece unleashed wave after wave of guitar grooves and otherworldly noise.

Local openers Black Hell Oil were an appropriate start to the evening in both sound and aesthetic. Lead singer Chad Mason's gnarled guitar sound and stack of tube amps fit in nicely amongst the other bands. Playing heavy riff rock amidst pounding rhythms, the trio offered up a selection of songs that will be featured on their forthcoming, Blurton-produced album.