Show Reviews

Show: 10.20.99  Kingston, ON 
Review By:  Sofi Papamarko 

Rabbits Hop, The Lights are On 

The QEA presents the Front Man War! Tour at Clark Hall Pub 

“There shall be no Spandex worn below the waist of said Gentlemen. It  follows that Handkerchiefs worn about the knee will also not be tolerated, as such Gimmickry enflames Dangerous passions in the Female audience members, thus giving unfair advantage to the Perpetrator.” So goes Article I of the Front Man War! Treaty, as drawn up by Matt Murphy and “Lieutenant Colonal” Gaven Dianda of The Flashing Lights. What is said Treaty’s intent? To ensure that each band “use the full power of Rocque” and “suitably 
Entertain and Annihilate.” So let it be written. So let it be done. I am sitting with The Flashing Lights (Murphy, Dianda, Henri Sangalang and Steve Pitkin) in the EngSoc lounge a few hours before the show. “There is a God,” declares Dianda, graciously accepting my offer of Equality orange marmalade with pectin. Now that I'm on their good side, I start the interview. 

Where did the name The Flashing Lights come from? 
“A Screaming Lord Sutch song,” Murphy explains. “This aristocratic rocker from England who invited all his heavy friends, including Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and the like to play on a record.” The best song on the album is called Flashing Lights, “and that became our theme song.” Adds Sangalang. 

We discuss fruit flies, Morrissey’s hair, sexy tennis players, how Gabe from the QEA looks like some guy named Drew (“Think about it.” Matt says to an unconvinced Henri), and the fact that toilet paper should always fall over the roll. It's not until after I go, however, leaving my precious tape recorder in the capable hands of Dianda when things get really interesting: 
“Henri, what do you look for in an alcoholic beverage?” 
“Clarity and sharpness.” 
“Jason Tustin of the Local Rabbits, what do you look for in a moustache?” 
”In a moustache I look for full body, I look for no crumbs, and I look for 
something more in the style of Tom Selleck then in the style of John 
It’s clear that Dianda’s interviewing skills surpass my own. Yes… I have much to learn from the lieutenant. 

Even sans the soon-to-be-broken-up Thrush Hermit (who recently dropped out of the tour), the concert was amazing. The Local Rabbits (Ben Gunning, Peter Elkas, Johnny T. Starr and Jason Tustin), could easily be mistaken for GAP guys, what with their dimpled chins and tousled hair, except for the fact that they have style (Ben sported a white tank top with a picture of the 
Supremes on it) and can actually sing (I know I’ll be receiving angry phone calls from GAP aficionados, but I care not). The boys laid down a set of funk-tastically playful grooves, including Sally Ann’s Style Denial 
(“Corduroy skin, what’s within?/Acid washed heart./”) and Lowdown On The Download. 

The Flashing Lights opened with Highschool (watch for the video on Muchmusic), which is, quite possibly, the perfect pop song. Half the Time (“I met my true love back in 1989.”) followed, as well as Where The Change Is, the title track of their album. Summertime Climb is about as malt shop as it gets, and the pulsating, guitar-heavy Elavature is so entirely Thrush Hermit-esque, it was like the boys were there. The crowd cheered wildly when Dianda played the luminous keyboard introduction to Where Do The Days Go? - 
a song too lovely for words. As fans of the now-defunct Super Friendz can attest, Murphy has always had an ear for oddly beautiful melodies. Add harmonies into the mix, and you get catchy songs that refuse to vacate your mind. Unless, of course, you counteract the effect with Mambo No. 5, but why the hell would you want to do that?