Smear Campaign / Trouble Everyday / The Outfit The Drake Hotel, Toronto ON - January 13

Taking to the stage of one of Toronto's newer, swanky, multi-faceted nightlife establishments, the Smear Campaign have the appearance of a band visually at odds with themselves. While half of the group sport the latest in skin-tight, dark-coloured fashion and metrosexual haircuts, the other half look equally ready to rock a cover of "New Orleans Is Sinking." This visual dichotomy is echoed in the band's sound, a blend of disco-punk and something that's a little darker and sloppier. While uneven sound levels caused more the a few of the members to grimace at times, things seemed to smooth themselves out by the third song, as the band hit their stride. Occasionally overshadowed by the insane video projectors that the Drake sees necessary to have throwing up trippy, colourful visuals on every bare surface, the band managed to rise above the awkward spectacle of the show to create a music experience that would be the highlight of the entire night. Trouble Everyday followed, and quickly taught everyone in the crowd an important lesson about drinking and rock'n'roll. When the bottle of wine you're consuming while on stage begins to impede your ability to create listenable music, stop drinking. Starting off with an interesting mix of post hardcore, à la Fugazi, and the type of danceable punk rock popularised by groups like the Rapture and !!!, the band concluded their set by sounding terrible and throwing their gear around in what could only be assumed was a tribute to 1994. The Outfit closed the night by playing a set that was reminiscent of the Strokes, but devoid of even an iota of charisma or good songwriting. People danced, but the chances were good that they were very, very drunk.