Waiting for Henry Dakota Tavern, Toronto ON, June 21

Waiting for HenryDakota Tavern, Toronto ON, June 21
Photo: Tiana Feng
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"The river rises without warning, and here comes the rain." It's a lyric from one of the better songs on Waiting For Henry's impressive 2013 release, but it's also a fair way of describe their music. Surprising, aggressive, elemental, this long-running New York alt-country outfit can sneak up on you, carry you away. Like a rowdier, less melodic Blue Rodeo, Waiting For Henry boasts two vocalists, duelling guitars and terrific energy. They are clearly so happy to be up there, doing their thing, it's hard not to get caught up in that flood. (They were also clearly miffed about having to squeeze what one presumes to be a lengthy stage show into the 40-minute constraints of a festival. These guys are built for long nights and exhaustive set lists, apparently.)

"I know what you're thinking," joked frontman Dave Sloman. "They're so freaking old, how do they rock like this?" Not only did that not occur to this (I guess also freaking old) reviewer, but I doubt anyone in the sweaty, rocking Dakota Tavern gave a damn. The music was fun, the band was tight, the songs were pretty good. Sure, Waiting For Henry is never going to be the Drive-By Truckers (the band it seemed they were most hopefully emulating), but when it comes to alt-country bar bands, you could do a lot worse.