Woodstock, New York quartet The Bobby Lees played their only Canadian live show on their current dates to a sold-out crowd at the Monarch Tavern this week. Supporting their third full-length (and their debut album on Ipecac Recordings), the band left everything on the stage at the Monarch (including most of drummer Macky Bowman’s clothes). Shortly before their performance started, Bowman walked out onstage from backstage, stretched a bit, peeled off all his clothes, adjusted his nutsack behind his tighty whities, posed for the crowd flexing his biceps, and then sat down behind the drum kit.
Both bands did their set-up; Bowman played the opening band Paste’s drum kit, with a single drum and cymbal swapped around quickly during the changeover. While on that topic, Paste did a solid job opening the evening, playing just over a half hour of original material and covering The Dandy Warhols’ “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth.” Paste was energetic and entertaining to watch. Dylan Taylor and Will Agnew clearly enjoy performing live. Poor Ginger Taylor, her keyboard positioned directly in front of the smoke machine, laughed numerous times as she disappeared behind a veil of murky clouds.
Lots of material from Bellevue got included this evening. The Bobby Lees exploded into the opening song “Guttermilk” and never let up, their songs blending as they counted them off. Thirty-five minutes into their set after playing “Monkey Mind,” Bobby Lee’s vocalist/guitarist Sam Quartin looked at bassist Kendall Wind and mouthed how quickly their set was going by. This moment was also when Bowman sat in front of the drums and adjusted his bright neon socks, which were falling around his heels as he performed.
The crowd was appropriately rowdy throughout this show. The Bobby Lees play a raucous style of heavy rock, filled with moxie and in-your-face urgency that can only be described as a catalyst for an aggressive show. Nick Casa’s incredible riffs dominated the small venue. It never got out of control, but given The Monarch’s 120-person capacity, the evening felt like a cherry bomb going off early in your hand.
The evening wrapped up with “Greta Van Fake,” “Be My Enemy,” and then a quick encore of the Bo Diddley track “I’m a Man.” I counted 17 songs over approximately 45 minutes, but I could be incorrect. If the hand-written setlist scrawled over the backside of a takeout dish thrown on the stage in front of me was accurate, that’s what we got.
This show was the second time The Bobby Lees played Toronto. Quartin said they were up here four years ago, and three people were in the venue – tonight’s sold-out performance must have felt more rewarding. That said, The Bobby Lees SHOULD be massive. Bellevue was one of the very best albums to come out last year. If this tour routes through your city, make sure you show up, buy some merch, and support some real rock ’n roll.
Bellevue is available on Ipecac Records. Their other albums are available for streaming and can be purchased as physical media online and in stores – the caveat being vinyl, which is starting to go out of print.
The Bobby Lees Setlist Toronto:
Dig Your Hips
Have You Seen a Girl
Ma Likes to Drink
Greta Van Fake
Be My Enemy
I’m a Man (Bo Diddley)