Tough Age Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 13

Tough Age Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 13
Photo: Lindsey Blane
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The current iteration of scuzz-pop magnates Tough Age consists of guitarist Jarrett Samson, bassist Penny Clark, and drummer Jesse Locke, the latter of which joined the band after its core duo moved from Vancouver to Toronto a few years back. The move apparently served them well.
 
I've seen Samson live numerous times, between Tough Age and Korean Gut, and this was by far the most rambunctious performance he's delivered. His hot pink guitar strap and cable may have given the impression the big man was there to cuddle, but he was all 'core. Clark exuded more confidence too, taking lead vocals on a couple tracks. Locke's stalwart drumming seems to have grounded the group, looking all business back there as he matched Samson's vigour while hardly breaking a sweat.
 
You could hear it on their 2017 album, Shame, and you can see it when they play live; they're at their peak and they're pushing the peak higher. Samson himself said this was probably the best sound they've had in five years.
 
The crowd seemed dazed by the trio and their high energy Flying Nun-style indie pop at first, but as Samson started cracking jokes and the group dropped the tempo down a shade, particularly for the title track from Shame, they found their footing on the dance floor.