This Guy’s Trouble

I’m going to put something out there – I’m going to hold it in my hand, and like a rogue archaeologist, I am going to swap it with the golden statue of trust you have come to assume from me. Then I am going to run from a boulder, probably.

The truth is, I know the people in this band. I know them personally; I have been in their houses, and I have occasionally discovered them in mine. You can decide whether this makes everything I say from this point forward unforgivably biased, but I’m campaigning on a platform of truth and I take it seriously! I want you to be accurately informed.

Art Kenyon is not a band actually, but a man who plays guitar, sings, and mixes his own songwriting sensibilities with a bit of Jack White’s signature flavour. He headed up the stage at Joe’s Apartment on Friday with a set of catchy rock tunes, showing off a more polished take on garage rock that fused grit and pop, making for great dancing and great serious listening all at once. Backed by Evan Findlay on the bass and The Creature on drums (whose persona on the kit is not unlike the virtuoso stylings of Animal before him), the stage was a powerful place to be near.

When the band stepped onto the stage, they introduced themselves with their music. The first couple of songs were played as one gapless, fast, and fierce volley, with little pause. When Art did stop to talk, it was brief, only serving to cover a tune-up or adjustment, and then got straight back into a quick succession of breathless songs. By the time they finished, 45 minutes had gone by, but it felt like only 15. The sonic blitzkrieg gave the show a sense of urgency that made it easy to lose one’s place, and by night’s end, recalling a specific song was like trying to recall a single image in a collage.

But it was the vivid collage that made the authors stand out so much more. Art’s powerful voice reached into the crowd like an arm, grabbing heads and turning them towards the stage like spigots. But he isn’t the kind of frontman who is a font of kinetic energy – that role in the group was handled by Evan Findlay, whose excursions to the dance floor and exploration of the monitor space in front of Art made him seem something of a pioneer. The Creature (who would probably prefer you call him Bryson Dodwell), seated at the back, initiated the huddles, where they all crammed around the drum set and then broke apart with renewed energy.

The energy was the most constant part of the experience – the final song of the night was an intense crescendo of sound and motion that culminated in smashing cymbals and pounding strings that brought everyone off their feet and to the floor. These are the moments when Art Kenyon is at his best – when the music is turned all the way up, when he’s not just turning heads but grabbing them by the chin and smacking them up-wise.

In the future, you may see a different lineup performing with Art Kenyon; the musicians that joined him on Friday are pursuing their own projects. But Art’s music demands a solid band, so whoever you might see with him in the future is sure to be good.

You can listen to Art Kenyon’s music yourself right now on bandcamp.