Urge Overkill Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON July 7
Published Jul 08, 2011Back in the day, Urge Overkill were always one step removed from their more sensitive indie rock peers. Their early records for Touch and Go were all greatly indebted to the narrative of heavy rock, from thundering psych, to British biker metal, to vintage American arena rock. But UO always had a healthy sense of irony as well, as evinced by their matching threads, hedonistic lifestyle (real or constructed) and swingin' medallions, a conceit that was carried out in full force with their masterpiece and major label debut, 1993's Saturation.
Urge Overkill stopped being a band not long after 1995's implosion Exit the Dragon, and tight-pantsed rock'n'roll has been poorer for it. This year, however, the two founding members, guitarists Nash Kato and Eddie "King" Roeser, unexpectedly returned from the void with a brand new album, Rock & Roll Submarine, and brought their glam-kissed mustache rock back to the concert stage. Urge returned with all the classic rock'n'roll swagger of their heyday intact (same haircuts, sans medallions), and not only did they bring the rock, they introduced it to everyone in the room, fed it beer, dressed it in fancy clothes, and let it party till it passed out on the couch.
The band concentrated largely on songs from Saturation, and the subtextual pop smoothness acted as the glue that held the set together. They played all the crowd favourites close to the vest, and songs from the new record that returned to the earlier, thicker, body-stone-type sound mixed in seamlessly. While the sweat-drenched band rocked out, Kato would casually towel himself off, then bust out a trademark riff for the aging grunge babies. Unsurprisingly, the band wound down with "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" and the anthemic "Sister Havana." It was pure nostalgia running at peak performance.