The Queers / The Apers Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON January 28

The Queers / The Apers Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON January 28
Starting out as a joke between a few burned-out pals, the Queers turned out to be one of the most influential bands during the third wave of American punk rock. Since their humble beginnings in the '80s, the band have specialized in fast, abrasive and obscene tunes peppered with bubblegum-pop sensibilities that make for some undeniably infectious listening.

Setting the scene was Netherlands pop punks the Apers, who charmed the anxious crowd at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern with their brand of animated power pop and light-hearted stage banter, delivered playfully in broken English. The Apers played off the crowd affectively, with the set including nonsensical but entertaining rants from bassist and vocalist Kevin Aper. As the Apers said goodbye, a sea of leather-clad citizens rushed the stage in anticipation for the all mighty Queers.

As Queers vocalist Joe Queer approached the microphone to announce the opening song "No Tit," the dance floor erupted into a frenzy of flailing bodies. The veteran three-piece were more ruthless than the crazed audience, as they ripped through their entire catalogue, only pausing to count in the next song. Original vocalist Wimpy Rutherford took to the microphone to belt out some of the band's early material, including such gems as "We'd Have a Riot Doing Heroin," "Nobody Likes Me" and "Kicked Out of the Webelos," while stage divers failed to be caught by fellow patrons sending bodies crashing into the floor.

Throughout the set, a bevy of covers were dished out, with the Queers taking on Black Flag, Angry Samoans and the Beach Boys, while the encore was executed with a version the Ramones staple "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," which than transcended into an impressive and somewhat fitting cover of the Who's "The Kids Are Alright."

The set was highly energetic yet exhausting, leaving adorning smiles on more than a few punks' faces. After nearly 25 years, it's cathartic to know that the Queers are still here.