Viagra Boys Went Hard All Night Long in Toronto

Lee's Palace, April 6

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Mark TremblayPublished Apr 7, 2022

At first glance, Swedish post-punks Viagra Boys looked like a band of middle school gym teachers fronted by a speed dealer. On stage, however, they came together to deliver their eccentric and lively take on the buzzy genre. Last night (April 6) at Toronto's Lee's Palace, the quintet tore through a wide range of their catalogue — including last year's Welfare Jazz — to a sold-out crowd of rabid, eager fans.

The Boys wasted no time in revving up the audience with deep-cut opener "Research Chemicals." The instantly recognizable riffs tore through the room, creating a reaction of mosh-pit chaos and inadvertent beer showers throughout the audience. The band kept that frenetic pace and energy running early in their set with fan favourites "It Ain't Nice" and "Just Like You," which made apparent how important bassist Henrik Höckert is to the band's sound. His bass riffs provide the hooks for a vast majority of Viagra Boys' catalogue, and his live tone provided the energy with which audience and band fed off of throughout the set.

Viagra Boys' music lends itself to a lot of experimentation in a live setting. Whether it's the saxophone solo that closed out "I Feel Alive" or the strained piano vamp on "Just Like You," Viagra Boys were not afraid of taking liberties with the compositions of their songs. The best moment of experimentation was the keytar solo that took place during the encore "Sports," which took the song into a totally different direction. The music of Viagra Boys does not take itself too seriously, and it is great to see the band take that same approach to their live performance. 

But above all the instrumentation, vocalist Sebastian Murphy was the undeniable focal point. Decked out in his signature shades and Adidas track pants, Sebastian was utterly captivating between his unhinged vocal delivery and penchant for pouring beer on himself or spitting various liquids at the audience. He kept the energy of the audience uplifted throughout slower songs like "I Feel Alive," and his occasional between-song banter was short and to the point. He was well aware of the audience's desire to hear signature song "Sports," and he made sure to give his all with an erratic range of tennis player dance moves throughout. What Murphy lacks in technical proficiency he makes for in sheer entertainment.

Between their career-spanning setlist, expansive live arrangements and plenty of liquid-spilling theatrics, Viagra Boys gave Toronto an unforgettable performance from start to finish.

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