Published Dec 20, 2015In the cozy confines of the Dakota Tavern, it was hard not to bathe in the nostalgia that came from the first headlining show by newly minted Tuns. As "super" as a group gets in Canada, Tuns are comprised of Matt Murphy (the Super Friendz, the Flashing Lights), Mike O'Neill (the Inbreds) and Chris Murphy (Sloan). If that 1990s East coast/Murderecords connection wasn't enough, it was further bolstered by their opening act Bankruptcy, featuring former Thrush Hermit member Rob Benvie, who has spent time in bands with each member of Tuns.
Named after Tiger Benvie's 2003 album, Bankruptcy also had cause to celebrate: it was their first-ever show. "So sucks to be you," an overly humble Benvie added after that reveal. But the new wave-leaning band proved they weren't exactly novices, giving a tight performance that at one point ventured into a prog rock odyssey. Though the newness of the band was undeniable, Benvie dished that Bankruptcy's debut album is due in March, which means they've clearly been practicing to make their first impression perfect.
Despite being advertised as the first headlining gig for Tuns, the trio made their debut back in October for the Dream Serenade benefit concert at Roy Thomson Hall, followed by an opening slot on Zeus's Ontario tour in November. But the intimacy of the Dakota allowed for a much warmer welcome; with so many friends on hand it felt like the polar opposite of an industry gig. And the band appeared comfortable and loose, demonstrating that the reason for Tuns was as much about three good friends playing together than anything else.
"The reason why we're playing all these songs without any mistakes is because we recorded them a while ago with Mr. Ian McGettigan (ex-Thrush Hermit)," Chris "Drums" Murphy announced. And although it wasn't exactly a perfect performance, Tuns gave the crowd what it wanted: a rock show that combined the best that each member has given us in their other projects. A rousing run-through of "Throw It All Away," their only release to date, even saw Matt Murphy do a signature leg kick, and pulling it off as if he were 20 years younger.
On top of Chris Murphy's rolling Moon-like fills, Mike O'Neill's hooky bass lines and Matt Murphy's jangular guitar riffs, the greatest thing Tuns offered was a lead vocalist democracy. All three members assumed the frontman position, as well as backer, making it a real dream come true for the average Sloan/Super Friendz/Inbreds fanatic in attendance.
Tuns may have sold out their show because of the Dakota's modest capacity, but once word gets around in 2016 — and it will — they'll do the same in bigger venues. No one likes to use the word "supergroup," but Tuns are just that: three of Canada's best songwriters/musicians from the '90s having a blast for their sake and ours.