TUNS Marquee Club, Halifax NS, October 21
Published Oct 22, 2016If you were to organize a summit of Canada's best scientists and pop-heads and ask them to scientifically engineer an alt-rock vocal-harmony supergroup… it wouldn't be at all surprising if the result came out sounding an awful lot like TUNS.
Heck, even if you were just picking from the Halifax indie boom of the 1990s, you'd probably end up realizing that Chris Murphy (Sloan), Matt Murphy (the Super Friendz, the Flashing Lights) and Mike O'Neill (the Inbreds) were your best options. It's not just that they know their way around a hook; it's that the three have a remarkably similar vocal timbre, making for harmonies in which it's hard to tell where one voice begins and the others end.
Despite their connections to the city (and the fact they borrowed their name from the nickname for the old Technical University of Nova Scotia, now part of Dalhousie), the band's first show in Halifax was low on banter and stuck mostly to business: thanking the crowd, pitching their one album and playing every one of said album's breezy, catchy guitar pop songs. Tracks like "Mind Over Matter" and "Throw It All Away" were delivered with record-quality poise, still leaving room for the veterans to drop a few rock poses and guitar/bass solos into the mix for good fun.
Before the show, I heard multiple attendees speculating if the band would perform any songs from their various other projects. I had my doubts, but the numbers always win: one nine-song record isn't quite enough to fill a set. So into the encore went two attempts by the band to navigate their way through O'Neill's super hummable "Wasted Time" and, most excitingly, the Flashing Lights' "High School." The latter — in this author's opinion, one of the best power-pop songs to ever come out of this country — may have been more energy than precision, but it sent the large, keener crowd home on a high.