At $12 a ticket, this wasn’t the cheapest show the Dalhousie Student Union has brought to the Grawood, but that didn’t stop people from snapping up the tickets. With a limit of 400 tickets, the show sold out quickly. And did it ever feel like it. The Grawood felt like it was full to the breaking point. It was crowded, hot and smelly—just the way a bar show should be.
The show started with fellow Ontarians The Darcys, who released their second album last week. Aja Interpreted by The Darcys is exactly what the title suggests. They took the 1977 classic album by Steely Dan and recorded their own versions of each song. Despite the brand new album, their set relied heavily on songs from their first album, The Darcys, released just three months earlier.
One notable highlight was the song “Peg” from Aja. As one of the most poppy songs from Aja, The Darcys managed to make it their own while still keeping true to the jazz-rock roots of the song.
Like most opening bands, The Darcys suffered from poor sound at the beginning of the show, and while the levels were never perfect, they were adjusted just enough to let the band shine.
After The Darcys’ admittedly short opening set, it was time for The Arkells to take the stage. From the very first song, it was clear that the crowd was full of fans who knew all the songs by heart, and the band loved it. The Arkells were loud, tight and bearded, but they were never dull. They tore into each song like it was the first time they had played it in months, even though the Thursday night set was in the middle of a six-night run.
Besides playing songs from both of their albums, the band managed to mix in a few covers as introductions to other songs, including a shout-out to local legend Joel Plaskett, followed by a rendition of “Happen Now”. The Black Keys latest single “Lonely Boy” also made an appearance in one of the songs.
“We never get to play these songs with real strings,” said singer/guitarist Max Kerman as the band was joined on stage by two female fiddle players.
In a night full of surprises, the biggest treat of the night came near the end when The Darcys and the two female fiddle players were invited back on stage for an energetic version of Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come True.”
By watching everyone on stage, it was clear they were enjoying the night just as much as the crowd was.