If you are a resident of the U.S., you’ve probably never heard of the Rheostatics. They got together around 1978 but haven’t recorded much or played anywhere except for the occasional reunion show since they officially disbanded in 2007. The Rheos are described as a Canadian indie rock band, which is totally inadequate, and also as influential and “a little too good for their own good.”
Pretty much the kiss of death for success south of the 45th parallel.
We’ve been listening to CBC Radio Windsor (south Detroit) for ages and were introduced to the band years ago. I mourned the fact that I’d never get to see them live, what with me in Michigan and them disbanded, but sometimes dreams do come true. The Rheostatics announced a 4-night stand at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto and I was not about to let this one get away. Tickets purchased, hotel booked and, passports in hand, we crossed the Ambassador and headed up the 401, arriving late on May 26. After dumping the car and a suitcase with the valet, we dashed over to the Horseshoe just in time to snag a beer and see the Rheostatics take the stage.
The Horseshoe Tavern did not disappoint. It was every bit the “better with the lights off” place I expected. You pass through a respectable looking tavern with cafe tables on the sidewalk to get to the live music section, which is complete with stage, low ceilings and mismatched flooring, the quintessential mullet bar–business in the front and party in the rear. I wormed my way through the crowd of mostly tall, yet polite, dudes to get a better view of Martin Tielli’s double neck. They started with Self Serve Gas Station, which is one of my favs, and then it went like this:
SET LIST MAY 26
(courtesy of the Rheostatics FB page, which you should go Like, because it’s awesome)
Self Serve Gas Station
AC DC On My Radio
What’s Going On Around Here?
Rear View (Tim New)
Here Come The Wolves
Dope Fiends – Halloween Eyes – Dope Fiends – Here For A Long Time – Halloween Eyes – You Shook Me All Night Long
Thursday Morning (Ford Solo)
Save It For Later (Tim, Clark and Ford on lead vocals/guitar)
Horses -> Queer Ending
Legal Age Life
Then Jeff Robinson presented Martin with his new guitar and he played Indian Arrow solo (13 engines song)
I won’t attempt to describe it, because live shows are best live. The evening is captured on the Rheo’s Facebook page, which features a ton of great photos, and some video from all 4 nights of the Spring Nationals, as they called it. The night I was there, Jeff Robinson presented the new guitar he’d built to Martin, and it’s captured on video. Just a cool unrehearsed thing I got to see. Here’s a link so you can watch.
I was bummed they didn’t play Northern Wish, but they had played it the previous night. Luckily, video.
It was so much fun that I wanted to go back on Saturday for the final show. But we had other plans so I can only hope for more tours in support of the new album, Brave New Waves. Thanks, Rheos and Horseshoe Tavern, for a great adventure.
P.S. There are some great venues in Detroit. You should come here.