I felt like shit last Thursday morning. Standing on the streetcar with my ears still ringing and a general ache going on throughout my body. No doubt if you’re reading this and you were at The Hoxton last Wednesday night for Fuzz, you felt exactly the same. It was a triple-header on the night with Toronto locals- Crosss playing first and then Californians – Walter and finally Fuzz. Together they turned The Hoxton from stock-overpriced-nightclub into a firestorm of sweaty people engrossed in the music they love. To put it one way it was the first gig I’ve been to in Toronto that people were actually dancing at. Sure the ‘’Toronto Screwface’’, as my friend called it recently, was present amongst some of the audience but I guess it wouldn’t be a show in Toronto without it.
I’m sure The Hoxton can be a very nice club with the right amount of pills in you on a Saturday night. Its long, dark and narrow room with a brightly lit stage jutting out of the darkness at the far end making it a foreboding place to enter when it’s empty. The stage is unique from other venues in the city as while there are the usual people stood in-front of the band going crazy, there were also people stood adjacent to the band to the immediate left and right of the stage. I didn’t notice this until some big bald dude climbed under the railing to the left of the stage, walked past the band and jumped into the crowd, then went back the same way through the band back to his spot a bit later on. That previous sentence really sums up the entire night, I wasn’t sure how the atmosphere would be or what the attendance would be like but in the end it was nothing short of crazy.
We got in there around 8.30, both of my Irish friends were pretty drunk at this point Crosss were just gearing up to start their set. They are a moody four piece, two guys and two girls, with chugging drums and powerful vocals they were the ideal start to a night planned to end with Fuzz. They were added to the line up last minute and I was excited to see what the local group had to offer. The audience starting to file in seemed to appreciate the vibe that was being created and were swaying along to the whining vocals of Andy March. Because I’m a consummate professional I had forgotten to check- 1, who the support acts actually were that night and 2, the set times of everyone playing. So when Crosss left the stage I was expecting Fuzz to walk on, instead the now packed out Hoxton was greeted by the second Fuzz sound-alike of the night in Walter. (As a quick side note here please don’t take me saying ‘’Fuzz sound-alike’’ in an insulting way. Both of these bands made the night what it was in the end and created the perfect atmosphere in which to watch Fuzz)
My God, Walter, what a support- Guitarist Patrick Noland, Drummer Ross Chait and Bassist Misha Lindes need to take a bow wherever they are right now. I was wondering pre-gig how watching Fuzz was gonna feel in this sterile club environment but it turns out I needn’t have bothered. Walter start by easing you in to almost every song with their LA beachy vibes, they then change up the tempo to some heavy heavy shit and The Hoxton just wasn’t built for this kind of sound. While the cauldron of bodies at the front of the stage was thrashing and swirling to the music, the nightclub venue was trying to reject all that was going on inside it. Two songs in Ross Chait had to leave the stage to get a new snare drum and throughout the performance Patrick Noland couldn’t quite seem to get his guitar pedals to do what he wanted. Tech issues weren’t going to stop them though and Walter kept powering through and seemed intent on bringing the whole place down with them. This all came to a head when the smell of electrical burning hit the air and all heads in the venue turned to the speaker in front of Misha Lindes that had just caught fire. He sacrificed his beer to put out the flames, tossed it into the crowd and Walter still kept on playing. They made sure to finish the song before asking the techies whether they would die or not if they carried on. They didn’t die and neither did we and by the end of their set, drenched in sweat, I felt like I’d experienced a whole show so much had happened. Yet we weren’t even a fraction ready for what was coming next.
By 10.30 we were all impatient to see Fuzz. I’d had to leave the centre and push my way through the ever growing crowd to the bar after Walter had ruined me: I’m gonna take this part to point out that it was $7 for a bottle of Canadian (Which is basically a fiver for a bottle of Carling if you are one of my English friends reading this). As Fuzz took to the stage with ”Rat Race” I found myself trapped further back than I wanted to be behind a bunch of people who didn’t seem to know what music was and how it usually affects one’s body. How could they not be bouncing up and down to this? Needless to say I found my way through the crowd and duly took my place in the whirlpool that was the centre of the crowd. Looking down on us from centre-stage was Ty Segall himself, orchestrating the chaos going on all around him along with guitarist Charles Moothart and bassist Chad Ubovich. All three of them covered in face paint(looking like a Kiss tribute act) , headbanging in unison with the crowd while tearing through the first and second albums at what felt like a lightening pace. The music was relentless and unforgiving, clearer and more pronounced than hearing it through headphones but still retaining the dirt and darkness that you expect. You weren’t afforded time to take a break as the band kept motoring on and the audience kept flailing, I lost and found both my Irish friends numerous times throughout the night in the melee but at the time I didn’t care one bit. When the single from the last album ”What’s In My Head” came on everything had reached boiling point; the air smelled of sweat and beer, the concert had descended into crowd surfers and chaos, and at the heart of it all were Fuzz. Feeding off the reckless energy, they smiled down on everyone and kept on building the intensity until the equipment finally gave way at the end of the encore.