Chain and the Gang by Sarah Whitlam


If you weren’t at the Electric Owl on January 14 — and chances are you weren’t, since there were only about 100 people in the audience — you missed out on a real doozy. Seeing Ian Svenonius onstage is something every music fan should experience once in their lives and he was in fine form on this dreary January night.

It was a four-band bill and Tim the Mute (a.k.a. Tim Klapp from local label Kingfisher Bluez) played the first set. It got a little messy at times, but the songs were catchy and they had goofy charm. Shawn Mrazek Lives! came up next. This is my favourite Vancouver act currently making music. Just the best, most earnest heart on sleeve catchy rock ‘n’ roll music there is.

After a short Nuggets-inspired garage rock set from Portland-based band the Shivas (who doesn’t like Nuggets, right?), the curtains were drawn to get ready for the main event. A man grabbed the microphone and introduced Chain and the Gang and the curtains parted to raucous applause, with Ian Svenonius standing front and centre in his trademark suit and tie.

Chain and the Gang still haven’t been able to capture their live greatness on record, which is a real shame. The songs sounded so much more energetic and each song was given a lengthy introduction that was one part joke, one part sermon and one part rant.  Their best songs, like “Certain Kinds of Trash” and “You Better Find Something To Do,” from their latest record In Cool Blood, became truly great onstage. I couldn’t help but smile during their entire set, as Ian Svenonius stalked the stage like a deranged preacher giving us the garage rock gospel. It was awesome. Next time, don’t sleep on this show.

By Dave Prowse
Photo by Sarah Whitlam

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