The Black Keys, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Sheepdogs, Current Swell, 54-40, The Glorious Sons @ Rock The Shores 7/18/2015

You can be forgiven for not knowing where Colwood, BC is. It’s a pretty, but quiet, suburb of Victoria. Not a place you’d expect to see some of the world’s biggest names on the festival circuit. But there you have it. Those in attendance got to witness most of the headliners from Pemberton without having to risk death by forest fire.

The operative word at this year’s Rock the Shores was ‘Hot’. Man, it was hot. Temperatures soared over 30 C, and shade was at a premium. First Aid attendants were rushed off their feet as many partiers felt the effects of heat exhaustion.

Hot. Yeah, the music was hot too. And nicely varied. From New York art rock to New Jersey stadium rock. From prairie blues rock to coastal indie folk. From ageless Canadian veterans to this year’s hipster darling. The energy was high and the great music kept coming in sonic wave after wave.

First up (for me) was Kingston’s The Glorious Sons, whose music is custom-made for these venues. The boys quickly had the crowd fist pumping to their Saturday night party rock. Highlights included songs from last year’s ‘The Union’, such as the aptly named “Lightning” and “Heavy”.

54-40 bounced onto the stage as if they were still in their mid-1990s heyday. Remarkably, the band still features three members from the classic four-man line-up (guitarist Phil Comparelli left in 2005). Front man Neil Osborne energetically lead the band through a set from the band’s extensive catalogue stretching all the way back to their break-out hit “Baby Ran”.

Local band Current Swell quickly put to rest any notion that they are a laid-back West Coast indie folk band. Their set was rockin’ and raucous. Their rollicking blues-rock had the crowd so fired up, in fact, that the hose had to be brought out to cool everyone off.

The Sheepdogs maintained the crowd-pleasing vibe with their take on southern country rock. Sounding at times like The Allman Brothers, the boys from Saskatchewan ripped through their songs with passion. The ‘dogs are no stranger to these parts and the crowd happily grooved along with a fondness that can only come from familiarity.

Edward Sharpe (real name Alex Ebert) is an experienced showman and he was in fine form Saturday evening. With his lanky frame he dangled at the front of the stage like a hipster puppet on a string. His band’s style of music was a dramatic switch from the arena rock of the afternoon, but he dazzled the crowd with his whimsical, gospel-influenced, indie folk. At one point he startled the security corps by hopping over the fence and right into the audience. There he mingled with the crowd, sometimes walking on top of them, as they adoringly embraced him like some kind of messiah. It was one of the most heart-warming moments of the entire weekend.

Day One came to a climatic, and explosive, finish with the powerhouse known as The Black Keys. With the twin assault of rumbling drums and deafening fuzzed-out guitar, they hit the stage like a thunderstorm from hell. The first three or four attained such heaviosity that you were sure you couldn’t survive any more of this pummelling. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, the duo fortunately have a few slower and less crushing numbers in their catalogue, so from then on the material was a bit more varied even though the intensity level never let up. It was hard to imagine that anything on Day Two could top this, but you can head over here to find out.