Classic rock greatness returned to Toronto, as Rival Sons enjoyed a most welcome homecoming at Cherry Cola’s this past Tuesday night.
Rival Sons may be from Long Beach, California, but their Toronto home is most definitely Cherry Cola’s Rock and Rolla Caberet. They may play other venues while in our fair city, but they save their soul for Cherry’s. On the heels of their free show at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Jay Buchanan (vocals), Scott Holiday (guitar), Robin Everhart (bass), and Michael Miley (drums) announced another show at their favourite Toronto spot, making many fans very very happy. And the cherry on top of that already delicious musical dessert? Cherry’s DJ Stroke’s own band The Dirty Water was the opening act.
The Dirty Water remai shrouded in mystery, but if you’ve ever been to Cherry Cola on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re very familiar with the charismatic and eccentric Andrew Todd, aka DJ Stroke. The personality Todd brings to DJing is amplified a thousand fold when he takes the stage. Iggy Pop moves and a Mick Jagger voice, the Dirty Water’s frontman entertains visually and aurally, putting on a fantastic show. Backed by a band of extremely talented misfits, their music is an addictive mix of pounding rock and dirty country. The winding beat that accompanies Todd’s singing of “Dirty Water’s got a message of love” made girls want to do bad things on the dancefloor, and the boys were more than happy to watch them. With every song the crowd got more and more pumped, and in the perfect mood for what was to follow.
It’s amazing how many bands these days are adopting that vintage rock star look, but none do it better than Rival Sons. Long hair, tight pants, and that swagger that Jim Morrison patented in his heyday, these guys are a reminder that classic rock is not bound by dates and time, it’s music, whenever you want it to be. And last Tuesday, it was most wanted at Cherrys. The bar was packed to the brim, people pushing their way to the front of the small stage, wanting to be as close to the music as possible. The room thrummed with a passionate energy from the moment the first note was played.
The imminent rock anthem “Burn Down Los Angeles” had the crowd chanting along to the chorus, joining their voices to the four sons’. “Get What’s Coming” had Holiday playing guitar licks straight from the seventies, punctuated by Everhart’s heavy bassline. “Young Love” showcased Miley’s pounding drums at each chorus, a veritable animal behind the kit. “Pressure and Time” may be getting airplay on the radio but there’s nothing like seeing it played live, and witnessing Holiday’s dizzying guitar solo in person. The band’s ballad chops came out during “Face of Light”, a beautiful love song that had every girl swooning. And Buchanan’s powerful vocal chops went from loud and strong to quietly intense on their set closing song “Soul”, sweetly dedicated to Cherry’s owners Cherish Stevenson and Glenn Hughes. It was a wonderfully poignant way to end the show, and a great tribute to the band’s biggest fans in Toronto.
Rival Sons are riding a wave straight to rock stardom. Soon they’ll be headlining shows in massive arenas all around the world, but for a short time fans are lucky enough to watch them play their enthralling brand of music in these amazing intimate venues. Make sure you get your chance too. You won’t regret it.