Published Dec 01, 2005When it comes to gigs, nine times out of ten you can squeeze in one more at-home pre-beer and miss the opening band without feeling a tinge of regret. So imagine my dismay when I get to the Edmonton's venerable and "soon to be replaced by yet another condo high-rise" Sidetrack Café just as the first band wrapped up to not only find the place packed, but the room buzzing with praise for the Subatomics, a high-school three-piece that allegedly channels MC5 in a way 15 year olds have no business doing (and who, as the Twin Fangs' Paul James Coutts gushed, "will make you believe in rock again"). Oops. Luckily, despite the strong start, the best was still yet to come. After a fun set of twitchy and almost unsettlingly Jesus Lizard-esque rock from Calgary's Fake Cops (why does it seem so strange and "too soon" for a band to be so blatantly aping the music of David Yow and company? Maybe it's actually not soon enough), Edmonton duo the Vertical Struts took the stage in support of their freshly released full-length and proceeded to rock the pants off anyone foolish enough to have worn their "sitting quietly" slacks to a dance party. They may not be the most technically accomplished musicians you'll ever see, but this is a large part of guitarist/singer Raymond Biesinger's and drummer/enthusiasm factory Trevor Anderson's charm, and the Struts proceeded to blast through a tight set of sloppy, lo-fi, Kinks-infused hump rock as Biesinger jerked and yelped the crowd into a frenzy. Oozing cocky self-assuredness and rock star stage presence without a hint of pretension, the Struts will surely be turning a few heads on their current cross-Canada tour, so be sure to show up early, just in case they're playing first.