Concert Review: Zeus at the Mod Club, May 27

Zeus, photo by Chris Marshall

Last night, newly christened hometown heroes Zeus played the biggest show and their first real headlining one at Toronto’s Mod Club. They’ve only been home a week, recently finished up the Bonfire Ball tour, of which I saw in March during Canadian Music Week. That’s when they played with former ring leader Jason Collett and backing buddy Bahamas. Well, last night Collett was watching from the crowd, partly like a proud papa and a critic. This was Zeus’ time to shine.

The show wasn’t sold out, but it was close. An impressive feat for a band who’s rising up so quickly. Their debut album, Say Us, is sure to be on a lot of top 2010 lists. They invoke a lot from The Beatles and other similar bands. Three of the members sing — you can tell they grew up on The Beatles as at times it feels like they’re singing like Lennon or McCartney, accents and everything. It’s a bit of a softer touch.

Zeus took to the stage after some strange video game music and a strobe light — the latter letting you know, like bolts of lightening, that the power of Zeus was about to arrive. The Mod Club’s stage is interesting — a big, wide space that both lets them roam during their set and gives off this epic sense. As they played, the humidity of the night, the sweat, the smoke swirled above their heads, changing colours with the lights. Red, yellow, white. There was a bit of a downside — the basement part of the Club had some wild beer party going on, and you could still hear their music coming through the floor. Even the band could. Not good!

Zeus didn’t stop for quite a lot of songs though. They powered through a handful and finally took a breather for some banter. The breather wasn’t forever. They had a couple others through the night, but they could have definitely played them up more.

While they did well on the large stage and made me proud overall, the show had a couple flaws, naturally. Since it was their first big headlining gig, they lacked a bit of confidence to really take over the stage and own it. And because they have so carefully constructed melodies for their songs, it’s hard to break out of it. There were a few short jams or guitar solos, and those were great. There should have been more of those. I want to hear more than what’s on Say Us. A few songs really stood out more than others — “Heavy on Me,” “The Renegade,” “You Gotta Teller.”

Overall, it was a good set and top notch for the first big one. Now that they’ve got that off their backs, today it was announced they’re playing at the Rivoli on June 17 for North by Northeast, which will be a lot different and probably a lot more fun.

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