Sometimes all you need is a little rocking girl power energy in your life. And sometimes, you don’t realize how much you’ve been missing it until you see an amazing all-girl band like Peach Kelli Pop. I was riding that bubbly, energetic high when I left The Smiling Buddha on Wednesday night, and it felt amazing. During their set Allie Hanlon, PKP’s front woman and drummer for The White Wires, mentioned that we were, as she called us, “the true punks” of this world for coming out and being so supportive in the middle of the week when we all had work the next morning. The comment struck me as pretty high praise at the time, but after giving it some thought, it might be true. It didn’t feel like any kind of a burden to me or the rest of the crowd (I speak from observation here of course) and I got up at seven the next morning.
The Smiling Buddha has come a long way in the last few years from its sketchy origins. It’s become a place that’s desired by bands rather than played hesitantly. It was nice to see what has happened there since I saw it last. It’s clear the new owners understand the needs of Toronto’s music community. Total Love were the first band to entertain the – by that point mostly full – Buddha. Total Love have a positive and youthful energy, and they exude it from the stage to the point where it becomes contagious. It seemed to me that they are still fleshing out their sound, but they played enthusiastically; the spirit of garage rock riding their shoulder. Much of their sound comes from the guitar and bass playing the same root notes, but when they switch it up, they really come alive. By the end, the pretty, washy tone of the lead guitar had me hooked. The song content ranged from missing summer and awaiting its long anticipated return, to a song about the singer being a self professed coke head; by which of course, he meant the cola. The stage banter fell a bit flat at times, but their undeniable optimism made those kinds of factors entirely forgivable.
The crowd had filled out a lot by the time The Lord Almighty’s started playing. They also had a few more drinks in them by that point and were notably more rowdy, which made The Lord Almighty’s set a much louder and more intense scenario. These are the perfect set of circumstances to see a band like them. Summed up in few words, they rock. Myles, the front man, is clearly not someone who needs a confidence boost. He has that kind of stage presence where he could ask his audience to say or do anything, and they would. As they started the set, any angst I was carrying just slipped away and got lost in the instrumentation flooding my ears; an invaluable sensation. The lead singer’s vocals were rough and edgy. That mixed really nicely with the guitarist’s back up vocals. I’m a sucker for some pretty female back-ups. They get me every time. If you get a chance to see The Lord Almighty’s, take it.
There had been some minor issues with the levels for the other bands, so Peach Kelli Pop took some time to sort out theirs before getting into it. I’m glad they did because they sounded great. Their sound is really full in terms of instruments to begin with, and that is helped by the fact that four out of five band members sing. That’s part of what makes PKP so great. Those combined vocals give the music a retro, happy pop element that inevitably leaves a smile on your face. There were definitely some hard core fans in the crowd that night. A few girls who were up near the the front of the stage with me were losing it, jumping three feet in the air and dancing like no one was watching; it was great. PKP stuck mostly to material from their first two albums and played only one or two songs from their newest album. I wished I had heard a few more of the new songs, but it made the set familiar to most people there, and there is something about that kind of show that makes you feel connected to both the band and the people around you. Seeing Peach Kelli Pop makes you feel like you’re on a beach, it’s the middle of summer, you have no cares in the world and all you want to do is jump around dance to the sweet rock n’ roll being played by five talented, badass girls. PKP are rockstars. Girl Power!
Review by Thea McKay