While biting March winds raged outside the Horseshoe Tavern, the legendary Downtown Toronto venue was full of a heady, humid heat as the sold-out crowd packed themselves in as close to the stage as humanly possible.
Three-piece heavy rock band Irata from North Carolina kicked things off with a strong and aggressive set, priming the crowd for a tenacious night of quality music.
All Them Witches took the stage around 10:00 PM looking a little worse for wear, which vocalist Charles Michael Parks Jr. explained was due to a series of illnesses that the band had been plagued with since starting their tour in early March. "I’ve been bedridden for the past few days, and Robby [drummer] has been puking down the side of the van all afternoon." The band had also braved a white-knuckled backroad drive through a Canadian snowstorm earlier that day, arriving in Toronto (safe, but exhausted) following their sold out show at Bar le Ritz in Montreal the night prior.
"It’s not going to be the show you paid for," Charles Michael said, "but it’s going to be a show." And a show it was.
The Nashville-based psych-rock group launched into a short, but powerful eleven-song set—the majority of which were tracks from their February 24 album release Sleeping Through the War. As the first few bars of "Bulls" began pulsating through the intimate venue the crowd cheered loudly before falling into an almost silent reverence—eyes closed, heads nodding in unison.
The show was a perfect mix of subdued, hypnotic jamming and high-energy, rowdy headbanging. The crowd favourite was undoubtedly "When God Comes Back," which had everyone on their feet, chanting along, and giving it their all.
Major kudos goes out to drummer Robby Staebler, who never missed a beat despite spending the entire set holding back the urge to vomit (though sometimes unsuccessfully). If there’s any way to show fans how dedicated you are to giving them the live music performance they’ve been waiting for that’s sure one of them.
Catch All Them Witches at one of their next North American tour stops, after which they’ll blaze into the European leg of their tour starting in Zurich, Switzerland on July 11.
Check out the video for the song "Bruce Lee", off All Them Witches' latest album
Blood Sand/Milk And Endless Water
Am I Going Up?
When God Comes Back
Don’t Bring Me Coffee