The Sharp Ends / Thee Thems / Wicked Awesomes The Broken City, Calgary AB November 14

While the Wicked Awesomes were down a bass player and a pair of shoes, the Edmonton psychedelic garage rockers still managed to coax a wolf howl sing-along during the crowd favourite "Fighting the Wolf Spirit.”

Thee Thems were up next with one of the most creatively driven and invigorating instrumental sets of the year. Sprightly keys and relentless percussion made for a contagiously upbeat set, but the real star of the show was the thick, jagged, post-rock guitar darting all over the place in a delicious hook fest. Attention grabbing sounds were coming everywhere - particularly from the guitar, which diabolically plotted an incessant attack from all angles.

Like kicking around nearly-dead road kill, false stops toyed with the audience and revealed the band’s sense of humour and tight control of their quick half-hour set. However, the shape-shifting keyboard was the insolent brat of the band and, at one point, it sounded as if the keys and the bass were at each others’ throats.

High-pitched and squalling, the keys were like an annoying bug you wanted to swat away from your face and may have unfairly distracted from the more palatable low-end grumble of the band. Eventually, the keys inventively found their place later on as they squealed through the thick buzz of the rhythm section before quickly dropping a few octaves to growl away underneath the din.

A multi-headed and unpredictable beast, Thee Thems are a formidable force, easily one of the brightest new bands on the scene and is making instrumental music exciting again.

The headlining spot of the night was reserved for the highly-anticipated debut of the Sharp Ends. Featuring former members of Calgary favourites, the Ostrich, expectations were sky high for the new quartet. Armed with one of the most electric and engaging front-men of the scene, Chris Zajko, the band brought together everything cool that came out of the late ‘80s with a feverish Ian Curtis intonation and a surprisingly full and fresh sound.

Tight and intensely focused, the Sharp Ends sounded like a band with five albums already under their belt. Moody and fully dedicated to having a rock exorcism on stage, they brought back Michael Williams’ Life on Indie Street, lovingly reinvented and imaginatively modified for a new generation.