Mounties / Rich Aucoin / Japanese Girls Sugar Nightclub, Victoria BC, March 20

Mounties / Rich Aucoin / Japanese Girls Sugar Nightclub, Victoria BC, March 20
Photo: Jason Schreurs
It's hard to believe that this was only the third live show by proclaimed super-group Mounties. Embarking on a Canadian tour for their debut album, Thrash Rock Legacy, the band hit lead singer/keyboardist Steve Bays' hometown of Victoria, BC for a return to the site of their first ever show at the city's Rifflandia Festival last summer.

Vancouver group Japanese Girls (or, annoyingly, JPNS GIRLS) opened the show with high energy and not a lot of pretense. The four-piece, which were akin to Alien Ant Farm for the indie rock set, ended their short, spastic set with the crowd wanting more.

Rich Aucoin, flanked by live drummer Joel Waddell, quickly turned the early night crowd into a huge dance party; within two songs of his short set, he had the entire crowd singing and dancing along. Aucoin jumped down into the crowd during the chorus to every song, his heavy beats and inventive sampling left to play onstage as he caroused through the crowd. His clever visual display behind him sequenced nicely to his set, combining inspirational YouTube videos with his posi-lyrical slogans. When he threw a giant parachute into the crowd for us all to duck and dance under ("Keep pulling it," he shouted, "it's big enough to cover the whole crowd."), it's easy to see why Aucoin is known as one of the best live acts in Canada. Gimmicky or not, Aucoin knows how to create a genuinely exciting live experience, and has the music to back it up.

Always happy to play for his home crowd, Hot Hot Heat leader Steve Bays and his Mounties hit the stage with smiles beaming. Bays and drummer/vocalist Hawksley Workman had a big hug front of stage before getting down to business with guitarist Ryan Dahle (Limblifter), bassist/multi-instrumentalist Parker Bossley (Fake Shark Real Zombie), and extra percussionists and guitarists.

Live, Mounties are a huge, sprawling rock band more than the new wave/indie rock of their debut album. Workman drives the band with his drumming bombast, channeling his inner Keith Moon while adding his patented high-pitched vocal prowess. Bays, Dahle and Bossley give their all, too, harmonizing each vocal line like it was their last and playing their instruments with equal aplomb. Tracks from their debut album, such as "Headphones" (which got the whole crowd into a huge singalong), "If This Dance Catches On" and "Tokyo Summer" were given completely different treatments live, like twisted, beastly, proggy versions of the album tracks. Extended versions of Mounties' songs came across like the hippest jam band ever. Hipster jam? Is that a thing? It is now.