Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto ON June 16

BY Scott TavenerPublished Jun 17, 2011

"Really takes you back, doesn't it?" asked Rusty frontman Ken MacNeil after finishing the group's early hit -- well, "hit" by mid-1990s CanCon standards -- "Wake Me." And it did, at least for those of us old enough to remember alt-rock's heyday. Emerging from more than a decade-long hiatus, the band have returned for, well, what? Unlike many a recent reformation, this one lacks a cash-grab feel (a pair of NXNE gigs is hardly a big payday). Instead, as MacNeil and co. ran through their familiar-to-some canon with their children lining the side stage, it felt like four old buddies jamming at a barbecue. Sure, the singer started with an admittedly shaky grasp of his lyrics, yet his instantly familiar, nasal-driven wail was still in tact (even if his trademark dreadlocks weren't). And, despite the easy wordplay -- you know the one -- the band were polished. Full of dirty guitars and slack-happy lyrics, the sound was firmly entrenched in its era, but that's what made the nostalgia-laced show so charming.

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