The Glorious Sons / The Beaches Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, Victoria BC, November 1
Published Nov 02, 2018You could practically smell the Juno Awards in the air amidst the legal pot fumes at the half full Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. The Glorious Sons took home Rock Album of the Year for their 2017 sophomore album, Young Beauties and Fools. Victoria was second stop on their so-called S.O.S. Tour, named after the track "Sawed Off Shotgun" from the aforementioned album, and the first date to feature the Beaches in the opening slot, who themselves earned the Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year in 2018.
The Beaches were a blast. These Toronto-based gals chewed up the stage with their music and antics. They had all the moves of a solid hair metal band, but their sound was gutsy, adding raw energy to the no-nonsense rock'n'roll they've released thus far, like a four-piece version of Deap Vally or the Pack A.D. with choreography from Steel Panther.
Frontwoman Jordan Miller did a little funky chicken with her legs, flipping her hair back and forth as she ripped her bass lines, joining guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl in some synchronized place-running near the end of their set, while lead guitarist Kylie Miller got down on her knees, compelled by the power of rock. Drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel held it down in the back, not satisfied to let her dazzling sequin blouse speak for her, as she made her presence felt in everyone's ribcage.
The Beaches pulled from across their modest catalogue. "Boy Wonder" from their eponymous debut EP, built up in a most epic fashion, with a large part of the credit to the strength of Earl's organ, coaxing screams of elation from the crowd with it finally dropped. Contrastingly, they also played a new song for the very first time, a frantic rocker called "Fascination" that's due out about a week after the show. If Victoria didn't know who the Beaches were before, they sure know now. Most of the floor was seated when they started, but most of them were standing and cheering when they finished.
After seeing the Beaches, the Glorious Sons were a bit of a letdown. Even though there were six of them up there, between two guitarists, drums, keys, bass and a singer, they seemed overwhelmed by the stage. A large part of this can be traced to the weird energy exuded by frontman Brett Emmons. He seemed to come out with a chip on his shoulder, getting right into the screaming chorus of "My Poor Heart." Then, after their second track, "Mama" from their 2014 full-length The Union, Brett snapped a mic stand in half over his knee, and tossed it off the side of the stage. However, from that point on, not much changed.
With his face hidden by a mop of hockey hair flowing down from his hoodie to his armpits, his bare feet squeezing out the bottom of his skinny jeans, Brett spent most of the set skulking across the stage with arms crossed, singing down to the floor as much as the audience. Near the end of the set, he asked the crowd to help him sing "Everything Is Alright," and it made you wonder if it was out of necessity, as he spent most of the song kneeling at the front of the stage looking like he might spew chunks into the photo pit.
The rest of the band didn't add much in terms of performance. The three guitarists mostly wandered around, circling each other, occasionally having Brett lean on one of their shoulders. Brett's older brother Jay Emmons had a few moves on guitar, though he waited until "Kill the Lights," an hour in, to finally step to the front row, toss in a couple spins, and generally showboat like a lead guitarist should, as opposed to a few minutes into their set, when he performed a solo with his back to the crowd. Altogether, the stage presence of the six of them matched that of maybe one member of the Beaches.
That said, the Glorious Sons clearly had some chops. Despite their hipster-grunge fashion aesthetic, their music was more Americana rock, and they delivered it cleanly and faithfully. Among other instances, Brett showed the power of his voice in "So Much Love To Give," a rootsy gospel exorcism à la Hozier.
They had a somewhat uncomfortably masculine energy, though, with "Hide My Love" being particularly questionable. At first, Brett said the song was about his hometown of Kingston, a town he likened to Victoria due to its adjacency to water and smattering of booze bars, but the lyrics suggest it's a song about harassing his girlfriend (and his girlfriend's sister) to let him into their house at 8 a.m. when he was likely drunk and being a dink.