NXNE 2011: Keram @ Hard Luck Bar by Laurie McGregor

WEDNESDAY - Confession: I’ve harboured a ridiculous schoolgirl crush on Keram Malicki-Sánchez ever since the late 1980’s, when he played the role of information-seeking alien in TVO’s Zardip’s Search for Heathly Wellness. I found him again years later on YTV’s Catwalk, as the singer/guitarist Johnny Camden. I’ve since discovered that he’s an equally talented musician, and he seems to keep popping up everywhere – in one of our favourite episodes of Buffy, in two of three parts of the film The Tulse Luper Suitcases, in an excellent episode of ER, and also with his band on this years NXNE schedule. I couldn’t miss my chance to see him in person, and headed to the Hard Luck Bar to check him out.

Somewhat expecting experimental, minimalist acoustic folk*, I was surprised to see a full band set up on the small stage and was even more surprised with the loud, hard rock that made up most of their 9pm set. An intense frontman, Keram displayed a stunning vocal range throughout the show, switching quickly from high falsettos to low, guttural growls. At times, the sound veered into what I can only describe as psychedelic rockabilly, and you never quite knew what to expect next. I feel like the band would have benefitted from a later time slot – the music felt more suited to late night drunkenness and it was hard to really get into it, surrounded by a mostly subdued crowd that probably hadn’t been drinking since 5pm like we had.

* If you’re interested in Keram’s quieter stuff, he’s playing spiritual and blues numbers at the ElMo on Sunday at 11pm.

Photos: Adam Bunch

More of our coverage of NXNE 2011 here.  

Laurie McGregor is a Toronto-based dilettante. She is the co-founder of The Holy Oak Book Club, a sort-of monthly reading series in Toronto, and seating engineer and curator for Trampoline Hall, a very excellent monthly lecture series. She likes books, soft things, baking, unicorns, robots and has an unnatural love of vending machines. You can find her posts here and email her at laurie@littleredumbrella.com.


Anonymous said...

Saw the show too for basically the same reasons as you. I HAD to see "Johnny Camden" perform live again!!! Such a dynamic guy, and so talented. I got lost in the music...I will def. be at the El Mocambo on sunday...(hopefully, this time I will muster up the nerve to get him to sign my cherished "Blue Dog Pict" CD I bought at one of their shows back in the day. So happy to see he is still rocking, and still gorgeous <3

Anonymous said...

Great show even for the folks in my age...
(past meonopause hej, not to mention my white hair and wiskers)

Keram and his troops need a place
with a bit better acustics and parking.

(hearing aid and whelchair compatible)

OK no more critics PLEASE

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