NxNE Review: Zeus at The Rivoli

Last night was pure North by Northeast amazing-ness. First up for night #2 of the festival was Zeus at The Rivoli, presented by CBC Radio 2.

In anticipation of early arrivers for the Buck 65 set at 11 p.m. and knowing how teeny tiny the Rivoli is compared to other music spaces in the city, R and I arrived at  9:15 (early!), breezed through with our priority media passes (woot!) and caught the end of Chris Velan’s set (good stuff!). Then Zeus came on promptly at 10 and everything goes fuzzy after that because I had my mind blown. So I’ll try and piece together what I can….

First impressions: This Toronto rock quartet boasts some of the most talented musicians I’ve seen in a long time. There is no weak link here. If you’re a fan of Sloan, The Band, Jason Colllett, The Turtles, or music that doesn’t suck balls, you’ll Like Zeus. Trust.  

Playing tunes off of ‘Say Us’ (Arts & Crafts, released February 2010) as well as their debut LP ‘Sounds Like Zeus’, the band had me and the rest of the packed-in-like-sardines crowd at The Rivoli toe-tapping and head bobbing through the entire set. With catchy pop-rock hooks, riveting three-part harmonies, some twangy guitar riffs, a sprinkling of gospel and a hint of 1960s dreaminess, I couldn’t help but get a touch of the sads when the realization hit me that they’re going to be really, massively famous and this may be the last time I see them in a smallish venue. Yes, they’re that good.

History lesson: The band (Rob Drake, Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quin) were singer/songwriter and Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett’s back-up band Dark Horse (along with Afie Jurvanen) prior to officially banding together as Zeus. Some of the boys have also played in other popular Toronto acts like the 6ixty 8ights, the Golden Dogs and Major Grange. Carlin, Mike and Neil switch up between vocals, guitar, bass and organ, which may seem overly ambitious but is actually executed with seamless perfection.

They will undoubtedly be one of the most talked about shows of this year’s festival; in fact, I saw nothing but disappointed/crushed/slightly disgruntled faces when we exited the venue immediately following their set only to find a line of 100+ people clamoring to get in.

Zeus, I am now your humble servant.

Links, dinks:


Arts & Crafts Band Profile: http://themusicofzeus.com/index2.php

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