Age of Electric's Todd Kerns

Remnants of the Age of Big Hair

Age of Electric
with Veal and Space Kid
The Town Pump
Vancouver, B.C.
Friday, January 3, 1997

Review by Michele Martin
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Arriving a little late at the Pump, I only managed to catch the last three songs of local openers Space Kid, and what I heard I liked of this standard four-piece group, even as they played to an empty floor and a half-filled, dead club. The tunes fit the image they projected, kind of young and poppy. Their playing was clean and they played well together. Hopefully, next time around they'll get an audience which seems at least somewhat alive.

Up next, Veal. I'm glad I'm not a vegetarian, because I could chow down on this meaty musical feast anytime. The vocalist has a distinctive voice, not particularly strong, but interesting nonetheless, and which kind of grows on you after a while. But it's the powerful imagery and humour in the songs themselves that Veal's Luke Doucet draw the listener in. How can you not respond and pay attention to lyrics like "Two heads in a basket are better than one dried fish in the sun," "I'm on fire because my inner child is a fuckin' liar" and, my favourite, "Do I really look like Sharon Stone and do you want to fuck me from behind and hear me moan?"

Veal's musical style is flexible and unique, a perfect waltz followed by a polka with attitude, and even an instrumental sounding like a "Riders of the Storm" meets Shadowy Men from a Shadowy Planet. In spite of its diversity, the music seemed a little sedate for this crowd, many of whom were unable to appreciate the complexity of the tunes, as evident by that ubiquitous request, "Play some rock 'n roll, man!"

Which brings us to the headliners, Age of Electric. By now the Pump was packed, the crowd crammed around the stage. "We're a professional rock and roll outfit -- as you can tell. Tonight we're going to party like it's 1997!" Huh? Oh, I get it. They're being funny.

Age of Electric guitarist Ryan Dahle AoE have a big, bold sound centered on the big, bold voice of lead singer Todd Kerns. He does have a good voice, but not one which is particularly flexible or diverse. After a while, all the songs sounded the same to my ear, except for when other band members took on vocal duties. And, truth be told, I actually prefer the voice of guitarist Ryan Dahle. (In another life, by the way, Ryan and older brother/AoE drummer Kurt make up two-thirds of local band Limblifter.)

Unfortunately, Kerns' voice began to take over all the songs, so that after awhile all you heard was THE VOICE, which took away considerably from the not too shabby musical accompaniment. And AoE sounded like a hard rock cover band (which actually is what the band was, for many years). I found myself hoping and wishing for a little bit more than that, but it just wasn't there, at least not on this night.

Age of Electric put on a hard rocking, albeit not particularly exciting, show. The crowd certainly was happiest with this band: the dance floor was jammed with bodies twisting and turning every which way. The best moment of the evening came during the first encore as the band lit into a punked-up version of "Let It Be," then segued into the Police's "So Lonely," which made for an interesting combination. Now if they could have just spiced up the rest of their set...

First published in Drop-D Magazine on January 28, 1997

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