About a month ago I took in an intimate show by a female singer-songwriter down at the Skinny Pancake Creperie on Burlington's waterfront. As I sat there sipping on my organic oatmeal stout politely clapping between songs‚ I came to the realization that my 16-year-old self would have kicked my ass if he saw me there. But when I saw my second Ladyhawk show Sunday night at Higher Ground‚ I knew that I would have made my teenage self proud. Hell‚ I only wish I had a band like Ladyhawk when I was 16. They even have a song called "Teenage Love Song" that they played for their encore. "Call me back later on if you can/we'll sneak out and fuck in the family van/again … take my heart and break my heart if you want/tonight" -- yup‚ that would have resonated back seven or eight years ago. The band hails from the woods outside of Vancouver‚ BC‚ and I think lends something to their sound‚ which is raw and portrays a solid classic rock influence‚ but also has this warm‚ nostalgic quality to it. It's sort of like that favorite old hoodie you brought camping that still smells of campfire‚ cigarettes and the Molson you spilled on it. One whiff of that hoodie and you're back in the woods drinking around a fire with your friends.
Before getting to that encore‚ though‚ the brothers Ladyhawk deftly picked tunes from all three of their releases -- Fight for Anarchy EPLadyhawk and Shots -- and ran through them in a compact set with a bit of amusing banter added as garnish. Most of the music on those three records only comes out at night. Their catalog is full of stories about driving through the dark‚ smoking joints‚ watching the moon above the trees at a baseball diamond and the aforementioned tryst in the minivan. On Sunday‚ they broke out several of those nocturnal tracks‚ including the epic "Ghost Blues" off their latest‚ Shots. After a quick shout-out to "fish: the animal" Duffy Driediger mused "When in Rome…" and steered his band into the new jam that had them stretching out and coming close to the ten-minute mark.
The beautiful thing about Ladyhawk is that they are just a really great‚ no-frills rock band made up of best friends who obviously love playing music together. The turnout was the most dismal I'd ever seen at Higher Ground‚ but these guys were completely oblivious. They were playing with the same kind of energy they had when they stole the show from headliner Tapes 'n Tapes at a packed Paradise Rock Club last year in Boston. Lots of critics slap a "boozy-Southern-rock-inspired" label on them‚ but that's a lazy cop-out. Beer could easily be the fifth man of this band (sweet beards the sixth)‚ but the Southern-rock thing doesn't make much sense to me. I guess that's what folks call bands now that eschew irony and synthesizers and just play good rock tunes.