Tom Fun Orchestra / Bruce Peninsula / The Darcys Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON January 31

Tom Fun Orchestra / Bruce Peninsula / The Darcys Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON January 31
This was a pretty stacked show that had already drawn a substantial and attentive crowd by the time Toronto-by-way-of-Halifax indie rockers the Darcys took to the stage. While the band's recorded material hints at a sound similar to the Dears, their amped-up live interpretations recall the Constantines at their loudest and most structured, tightly hammering on inventive riffs and then retreating into soft choruses. If the band's live show is any indication, their second full-length should be worth watching out for.

Bruce Peninsula followed, and their status as Toronto's current buzz band did them well; a rapt audience had crowded tight to the front before they even played a note. An already filled-out rock band (two drummers!), Bruce Peninsula went the extra mile with a whole choir, plus a dude who just played the chains. It's the kind of weird indie rock band that could only exist post-Arcade Fire, and while it sounds engrossing and epic for five minutes, it quickly hinders the band's impact.

Dynamics are hard to come by with a band this big, and when all an audience can see is a wall of up back-up singers, it's easy to lose the visual impact that's supposed to come with live rock'n'roll. While older material played up the rock-meets-gospel aspect of their sound, new music sounded like tripped-out Gang of Four, totally ruled, and totally didn't need a million people to make an impression.

Tom Fun Orchestra, another big-by-most-standards band, had a hard time stealing the night from the earlier bombast; but with a collection of unbelievably catchy songs and an unbelievably loud and tight band playing them, they did. A dirty mix of the Pogues and Tom Waits' more standard fair, they blasted through a set mostly comprised of songs from their underrated Your Will Land With A Thud, throwing out a few brilliant-sounding new jams that show a lot of promise for the band in the new year.