Ice Cream Social. Guilty Pleasures. Y2K Party. Nostalgia nights happen under many names, sometimes weekly. But rarely do they culminate with one of the acts they regularly spin playing their hits live.
Last Saturday was special then as Canadian pop duo Prozzäk played their first of two sold out shows at the Rickshaw Theatre. The venue choice was as surprising as the news that Prozzäk, who put out their last album in 2005, were reuniting at all – and touring – and playing new music. All good news for people who grew up listening to Simon & Milo’s lovelorn Europop in the 90s and now (presumably) have money to buy their own tickets. And they don’t even need to be chaperoned to shows anymore.
Waiting for a band to start can be the most gruelling part of any show, especially when the act is as hotly anticipated as Prozzäk. But DJ Christa Belle knew exactly how to make the wait not just tolerable but fun: with extra sugar. Warmed up? No, the crowd was already on fire, lit up by 90s classics including “You’re a Superstar”, “Waiting for Tonight”, the freaking “Vengabus”, “Doctor Jones”, and “Butterfly”. Indeed, things were about to get straight up CRAZY TOWN.
The best part, whether you knew who he was or not, was watching the always eccentric Johnny de Courcy take center stage with his impassioned dance moves – which, lately, always ends in some degree of stripping.
What followed Christa and Johnny’s exposition were the best vibes I’d ever seen at the Rickshaw, or at almost any other show, period. And the crowd was a hodgepodge as I’d expected: pizza punks, basic kids, clubbers, art schoolers, metalheads, the IT crowd, and guys bumping nWo shirts and Macho Man Randy Savage references all gathered to have their heart strings yanked together. Basically, if someone was born in the late 80s or early 90s, they were there.
Instructions flashed on the main screen: “It’s time for Prozzäk karaoke. Simon says sing along,” it read during “Tsunami”. The person running the band’s beats from behind a couple of laptops also joined bassist/lead singer Simon on vocal harmonies and acted as hypewoman, snapping photos and videos of the crowd, holding the mic so fans in the front could scream “omobolosire-eh-eh-eh,” “sucks to be you,” and “www dot.” “Make some noise!” she yelled during “Just Friends”. Of course it was fun to partake, but no one needed to be prompted; they couldn’t contain themselves.
Let’s be real: some fans only went for the hits. But Prozzäk showed them that the band had much more to them than just the singles.
Some great moments came with unapologetically less upbeat songs like “When I Think of You” and “Feed the Night”. Ever cool, ever collected Milo put down his guitar to lead vocals on the latter, in a near-rap, much like Right Said Fred.
Simon too shone particularly brightly during hands-free moments, like on “New York”. When he had nothing to focus on but his singing, you could see him soak in the entire crowd’s excitement and enjoy every second. It must have also been a huge relief that the band’s new songs, the harder edged dance track “Baby, I Need Your Love (Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat)” and “Love Fools Anonymous”, went over smoothly.
With bands that focus on people-pleasing and giving fans exactly what they want, multi-song encores are the norm. But after “Wild Thing”, Prozzäk ended with the lone number “Sucks to Be You”. Totally all right though; there was plenty of Prozzäk to go around: not only was there night two to look forward to, they announced they were signing merch following the show.
Song titles alone like “Love Fools Anonymous” and “Baby, I Need your Love” are reassuring: little has changed with Prozzäk. A pining heart that’s been through the wringer still drives their addictive dance tunes which are still filled with memorable, easy-to-sing choruses. Here’s looking forward to their comeback LP and a longer encore.