The Stuff of 2011: Rouge

Our favourite discovery of 2011? Rouge. We first saw the electro-pop trio play at the Gladstone Hotel during Canadian Music Week. The band was still unknown, they'd never even been reviewed before, and the room was half-empty. But they instantly blew us away. "Dripping with sweat and energy," we wrote at the time, "they were like an unexpected kiss in the rain or a deep, drunken embrace of amazingness... one of the best kept secrets in Toronto."

By the time North By Northeast rolled around just a couple of months later, things had already started to change. This time, they were exclamation mark on what was quite possibly the greatest night of music we've ever seen. We kicked things off with The Most Serene Republic and Art Brut at the Mod Club before switching to Sneaky Dee's for Paper Lions, Ruby Coast and Sheezer. It was very early in the morning by the time Rouge took the stage, but people stayed, drunk and sweaty, for an inspiring set of loopy, danceable rock. 

Inspiring enough, in fact, for us to have written a thousand words about it. Here's some of what we said: "With a crowd in front of them ready to dance, Rouge put on an even better show than the one we'd seen months before. Their deep, hypnotic beats, which seem to go on and on forever, had the crowd moving in a mass of sweat and alcohol. Impressive for a band that still has only a few songs you can listen to online. (Two of which, 'Destruction' and 'Modern Lovers I', you can download for free below.) By the time the end of their set drew near, people were up on the speakers at the front of the stage dancing. And we were up there with them. At the end of a stretch of drinking that had started at the Live In Bellwoods show nearly fourteen hours earlier, exhausted, inspired, forgetting ourselves, we stepped out on to the stage and the crowd followed, a mess of limbs and smiles, whirling along to a cover of Fatboy Slim's 'Praise You'.

"Now, we know it's silly and naive and unforgivably pretentious for us to throw phrases like this around, but there's something about a moment like the ones on stage at Sneaks that night that can at least feel downright transcendent. It's bullshit, of course, a thin illusion. But if it strikes you at just the right instant — like, say, when you're drunk and high, a physical and emotional wreck at the end of a few straight days of bands and parties and not nearly enough sleep — well, then those endlessly looping electronic beats can feel, for the briefest of confused moments, almost, maybe, sort of as if they might go on forever. You could all still be up there, dancing on that stage, in a hundred years or in a thousand or, hell, when the sun bursts forth and swallows the world. Or maybe it's just that in that moment, it doesn't really seem to matter that you won't be there; maybe it seems like it's all worth it anyway. It's not a bad feeling, that. And there aren't too many places you can find it."

Rouge play New Year's Even at the Tranzac with Maylee Tood, The Elwins, Moon King and more.

MP3: "Destruction" by Rouge
MP3: "Modern Lovers I" by Rouge


You'll find the rest of our "Stuff of 2011" posts here. If there's something you enjoyed this year that you'd like to share, write something about it and email it to us at by December 21. We'll post some of our favourites.

Rouge were chosen by Cody McGraw and Adam Bunch.


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