Since I moved to Boston from Buffalo, N.Y., in September, I've been called 'basically Canadian' a handful of times. While I can't get behind their dialect, spelling, or accents (though I've been known to drop the occasional 'eh?') and would never in a million years eat poutine, I will admit to enjoying the occasional northern export: I love Tim Hortons and Aero bars. Degrassi used to be (fine, still is) a guilty pleasure. And my music collection is filled with Canadian artists, whom I often discover?via the Toronto-based radio stations I can find on my dial at home.
Being 'basically Canadian' is what led me to Church last night. Despite the fame, awards, and sold-out shows that await them in their home country, The Trews remain relative unknowns in the U.S. Case in point: A crowd of only about 30 -- many there to support local openers?Dagger or a Dram and TOTEM -- populated the Fenway bar by the time the Nova Scotia-bred band hit the stage just after 10:30 p.m.
The relatively minuscule crowd size didn’t matter to The Trews, who rocked the room for about an hour. From opener “The World I Know” through an encore of “Tired of Waiting” and “Ishmael & Maggie,” their energy never waned, and the band took the time to talk, crack jokes, and interact with the fans that had surrounded the stage.
With his raspy, borderline whiny-in-a-good-way vocals, singer Colin MacDonald makes you really, really believe the emotions in every song; performing them, it seems, takes everything he’s got. The Trews are one of those bands (like The Spill Canvas or Jack’s Mannequin) that incorporates into their live material a grittiness that sometimes gets lost in the recorded versions. Live, you might heard a shade of Silvertide, which isn't necessarily a comparison those listening through their home speakers would draw.
Although The Trews are technically touring to support their newest record, Hope & Ruin, released last April, they included plenty of their older material, too: “Not Ready to Go,” off their 2003 full-length debut, House of Ill Fame; “So She’s Leaving” and “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me” from 2005’s Den of Thieves; and “Paranoid Freak,” a favorite off No Time For Later, released in 2008. All of those songs, by the way, spent time in the top 10 of Canada’s rock radio chart.
Not everyone can be the “biggest band in the world,” but if you've forgiven The Great White North for spawning Nickelback and Justin Bieber and are ready for some solid, blues-y rock, The Trews are certainly worth a listen.
Photo by Shayne Kaye (Flickr)
About Angela -- It's "Ang," if you please -- or, alternately, Bill, Penny Lane, or (begrudgingly) Angus to some. I've been with TNGG since the site started and am now the TNGG Boston editor for Boston.com. I graduated from Boston University's College of Communication in 2009 and am a huge fan of live music, hockey, and Thai food. I'm also a bit of a klutz, but that's only because my mind and body are always going in approximately a zillion separate directions. Twitter: @amstefano988
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