The Cadillac Lounge was almost exactly what I had imagined. Hubcaps lined the stage, Elvis photos and leopard print sheets adorned the walls and a beer tap made out of a guitar head turned out drinks. The owners were certainly swinging for the blues-rock bar fences. It was a cool vibe for a music venue.
McMaster’s own Of Gentlemen and Cowards made the trip down to the Lounge on Thursday evening for their first time playing at the famed Canadian Music Week. The annual CMW is an exposition of over 1000 artists in 60 venues throughout downtown Toronto and brings together all of the major (and minor) players in the industry. Needless to say, if you’re an up-and-coming band or simply want to get into the scene, this week is of paramount importance for that next step.
Of Gentlemen and Cowards were in the opening slot, set to start off a night of five bands. After a quick sound check, Simon Edwards (vocals/guitar) arrived in an impressive fashion, stepping into the Lounge 40 minutes before set time directly off of a flight from Texas. He jumped right into band mode and prepped outside with the others with vocal exercises. A small crowd had gathered by the bar for the 8 p.m. start.
They got right to it, launching into “Save Me,” the track they performed this past fall on the Late Show with David Letterman. Midway through, the song dropped into its breakdown with a driving guitar solo from Christian Fedele (lead guitar/vocals) and the show’s intensity was kicked into gear. Following that was the fantastic upbeat groove of “Rum & Coke.” The transition between songs was notably smooth on stage. Edwards addressed the crowd several times, thanking CMW and everyone who came out, and John Dawson (bass/vocals) recounted the story of Edwards’ narrow arrival to the venue.
The band played a total of eight songs which covered a mix of their recorded material, unreleased tracks and a cover of “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” by Blue Rodeo. The tail end of the set ended things off strongly with the catchy showpiece “Paper Planes,” the set-staple “One of Those Days,” complete with an impressive call-and-response harmonica and guitar solo jam, and lastly the expansive “Weatherman Blues.” The latter was as huge as it always is live, with masterful instrumentation, a bridge of “So now let’s let the rain fall” and a string of soaring solos at the end. A special mention goes to Jake Warren (drums) for an impressive job of maintaining the set’s heightened energy and for leading the charge into well-executed transitions from song-to-song.
The entire performance was a well-calculated crescendo of momentum that built to a climax and elicited worthy applause and cheers at its end. This was one of the band’s finest sets to date. With graduation within the member’s sights and new recordings to be released soon, this summer is going to be a big one for Of Gentlemen and Cowards.
By: Lucas Canzona