Shred Kelly Dakota Tavern, Toronto ON, June 20

Shred Kelly Dakota Tavern, Toronto ON, June 20
Photo: Stephen McGill
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A band composed of ski town skids from Fernie, British Columbia, Shred Kelly walked onstage looking for all the world like… a band of ski town skids from Fernie, British Columbia. If they had any nerves about playing a marquee slot at a packed bar, they never let on for a minute, hitting the stage with such a nonchalant air that when they started their set I could have sworn they were still just soundchecking. But, then, as they heated up, the crowd moved inexorably closer to the stage. Soon, everyone started to sway and, by the end of the set, the whole place was jumping and writhing. These guys know how to lather an audience.

This is, basically, the Mumford and Sons effect at work. Every song by this pseudo-Americana band (they have a banjo, but they also have a synthesizer, so) was an anthem. Every song (but maybe one or two) rode a pounding four-on-the-floor beat, the irresistible thump of 1990s rave culture pushed behind what might've been started out as a campfire folksong. "I've heard the legend of sweaty dance parties at the Dakota," teased Sage McBride, co-frontwoman and keyboardist. "I think it's time to keep that legend alive." Yeah, no worries there. This band isn't for listening, exactly; they're for partying. They even had a song featuring an extended repetition of the phrase "I hate work" during which they convinced the entire bar to get down on the floor before they raised everyone up like a bunch of revivalists. It was a holy shit moment (regardless of how many times I've seen it down by others), and undeniable.

I can't say I had much enthusiasm for the songs these guys were playing — they were repetitive, offered few discernable melodies and though pitched way up high on the energy scale, they suggested little variation in tone or groove. But, honestly, I don't think anyone around me cared at all about any of that. They wanted to dance, and Shred Kelly brung it.