by Katie Morton
The Arkells are a Canadian rock band, formed in Hamilton, Ontario. They have released four albums, two EPs and a number of singles. Band Members include Max Kerman, Mike DeAngelis, Nick Dika, Tim Oxford, and Anthony Carone.
Before Bunbury Music Festival, I read this quote on the Arkells website:
“It’s a weird time to be a rock band right now,” observes Max Kerman, the Arkells’ singer, guitarist, and chief songwriter. “And to be honest, I don’t really listen to a lot of rock music right now. I listen to Drake and Kanye. It would be so boring if we made a mid-2000s-style indie record. All those bands that I grew up with …that’s not really what I listen to anymore. They’re in my DNA, but I just feel like rock has gotten so conservative and doesn’t know where to go. It’s just dull to me. Top 40 pop is way more progressive.”[i]
My image of the band before the performance was largely influenced by this proclamation. It wasn’t as if someone took this quote out of context and applied it to the band, this was their self-proclaimed mantra, blasted on their website. I expected a disengaged group of rockers, not really digging the festival scene. However, I could not have had it more wrong.
Max Kerman shot onto the stage full of energy, joy, and enthusiasm, calling out to the fans desperate to find shade from the afternoon sun, beckoning them to join the others up front, while crooning about “A Little Rain.” Before the band could finish their first song, Kerman launched himself into the crowd asking who planned to join him. He captured one eager fan from the shade and brought him into the spotlight in the gated area near the front of the stage. He told the crowd, “There are only two things you need to do…you need to sing, and shake your ass!” The onlookers ate up the performance and his connection to the fans.
The band performed “Savannah” as their second song, as a young girl screamed out from the throng of concert-goers. Kerman said, “Is your name Savannah…well this goes out to you!” The upbeat music energized a crowd weary from the weekend heat, and was punctuated by fireworks from the nearby MLB game, indicating a home run for the home team. Kerman acknowledged the homer, aware of the tradition, as the band attended a game just the day before.
As if the performance was not engaging enough, Kerman outdid himself before the band’s 3rd song. He asked for volunteers in the audience who could play 4 specific chords on the guitar. Many raised their hands, but seemed less sure once he pressed about their abilities. One young man showed confidence, and Kerman pulled him onto stage. Outfitted with a green guitar, the mega-fan played along and sang lead vocals with Kerman for the entire song. It was clear the Arkells made a dream come true for that talented fan and many others in the crowd who lived vicariously through him as well. I left the show feeling more upbeat than after any performance at Bunbury. As I walked to the next stage, I couldn’t help but think, “This is what live music is all about.”
Check out Nick’s blogpost about his experience at Bunbury: http://www.arkellsmusic.com/blog/
Check out our photos of Arkells:
photo credit – Shawn Wiseman