The Dudes at The Peak Performance StagePhotos by Alex Ramon
What better way to celebrate the beginning of Juno Week then with a free live outdoor concert sponsored by my favourite local radio station The Peak 100.5 fm. It featured some of Vancouver’s finest musicians in Dan Mangan and Said The Whale, but I’ve written on both of these outstanding acts a number of times, so I’ll spare you the details about how I enjoyed both their sets, and instead move onto another notable band that, quite possibly, has the best band name this side of the continent. Every era has some sort of slang word that gets engraved into society. The 60’s had “groovy,” the 70’s had “stick it to the man,” the 80’s had “bodacious,” and finally the 90’s had “dude.” If it weren’t for those gosh darn stoners (I mean surfers…), we would never have had The Dudes play here in Vancouver for Junofest, so I tip my bong to you (I mean my board…) for having the brain power to conjure up that term.
Now The Dudes are from the bright lights of Cow Town (also known as Calgary, AB) and have been around for some time now. This hairy band is comprised of Dan Vacon on vocals, Bob Quaschnick on guitar, Brady Kirchner on bass, and Scott Ross on drums. If you can remember all the way back to 2006 (I know it’s hard, but try to use whatever brain cells you have left), you might have heard their song “Dropkick Queen Of The Weekend” featured on one of those Rogers commercials (I have an impeccable talent for remembering useless information). So needless to say when Chris Vail from Load Music sent me their CD “Brain. Heart. Guitar.” for review, I jumped at this opportunity. I wanted to write a review for it since that fateful day, but I held off knowing that they would be playing a show here in Vancouver for Junofest. The day has finally come for me to put my thoughts on paper (or should I say screen).
The entire album is solid, from front to back, something that is lacking in the music industry these days. Most CD’s have three or four songs that are radio friendly, but The Dudes have successfully composed 13 tracks that can easily kick start them into fame. It starts off strong with “They’re A Comin,’” with its infectious hooks and melodic chords, and is followed up with their radio hit “Do The Right Thing.” I can’t get these songs out of my head, and have been noted on occasions to hum it while taking a shower (I have some incredible acoustics in my bathroom and I just want to take this time to apologize to my roommates if my singing sucks). “Mendoza Line (Whoa Carolina)” and the aforementioned “Dropkick Queen Of The Weekend” are my favourite two tracks on the album, and it just so happens they follow one right after the other (coincidence? I think not!). “Don’t Talk” is one of their slower tracks that showcases Dan’s vocal abilities as well one of the most interesting lines in the album “Don’t talk when we’re making love…” (I can’t agree with you more dudes). “The Fight” is a much heavier and dark track, while “Mom 100” is one of those stadium rock songs that have that “build-up into epic” moment that is undeniably danceable. “Love Is Dangerous” reminds me of something Weezer would do, while “Fist” is no doubt one of those sing-a-long tracks that everyone loves. “Done Is Done” is a very soulful song that caught me off guard with it’s heavier chorus, and “Cup Of Blood” started off with lyrics that I could relate to, “I accidentally elbowed your face on the dance floor, I’m sorry” (Really, I’m sorry random girl…feel free to give me a call for another dance off). “Celebration Of Kindness” and “Good Intentions” round off this enjoyable disc by highlighting the rock star as well as the singer-songwriter in each of them. If you haven’t picked up “Brain. Heart. Guitar.” then do yourself a favour and go to your local record store and purchase it!
After listening to the entire album, I felt like I was prepared for their live show and thought I knew what I was getting myself into. The Dudes are everything I love about going to concerts, and then some. Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of singer-songwriter performances, but nothing beats a solid rock show, filled with beer drinking hooligans up on stage (they even got the crowd chanting “LONG ASS TENT!”).
The band dynamic was marvellous, with each member holding their own up on that semi-outdoor stage. Dan was pitch perfect on vocals, almost identical to his performance on their record. He had the energy of a great frontman and carried hilarious conversations with the crowd. Bob shredded the guitar with his melodic solos, while Brady provided tuneful bass lines that would tickle any ear drum. I was most impressed with Scott, but not for his drumming. Oh no, he was much more than a drummer that day. He was better known as “Captain Stache” on this night, because he had one of the most well groomed upper lip I’ve ever seen on a person (aside from Lanny McDonald of course). I enjoyed every aspect of their set, and I’m sure these party animals will continue having this much success, granted they don’t drink themselves silly.