Hey Zeus

Indie rockers Zeus played the Grad Club this past Saturday night despite a

Even with the weather becoming increasingly unbearable and the plethora of other distractions available at the footsteps of the average Kingston dweller, I was surprised at the emptiness of the Grad Club this past Saturday night. Apparently nobody knows about Zeus.

Thankfully the cold snap and the less than ideal crowd size didn’t dampen the band’s spirit too much.

No strangers to the claustrophobic Grad Club stage, various incarnations of Zeus have been here before.

The foursome— consisting of Mike O’Brien, Carlin Nicholson, Rob Drake and Neil Quin—have been busy touring as Jason Collett’s backup band, Paso Mino, for the past few years. The boys have stepped out on their own and recently signed with the Toronto independent record label Arts and Crafts, which also boasts well-known Canadian acts like Broken Social Scene and Feist.

The Grad Club has become infamous for its awkwardness and charm. The giant house turned pub, restaurant and music venue has no backstage—unless you count the kitchen where the band usually hides and stores their gear before coming on stage—and has a huge dividing staircase, which cuts the stage in half. Usually, after a few pints of whatever is currently on tap and standing for a few hours with several other sweaty people, these minor flaws become invisible. But when the place is less than packed, these idiosyncrasies are heightened.

Singer-songwriter William Delray had the job of warming up the crowd. Sporting a crutch, which he had to set down to play guitar, Delray overcame more than one obstacle last Saturday night. Delray’s band, The Sexy Moving Parts, is comprised of many Toronto band swappers, including Neil Quin of Zeus. Delray, who’s real name is Matt Miller, didn’t indulge in much stage banter that one might expect. From his quirky songs and persona you’d expect him to be chatty, but if anything, he seemed a bit nervous. Like everyone in the crowd.

Luckily, nerves didn’t get in the way of Delray’s beautiful voice. A relative unknown in the larger Canadian scene, Miller plays most gigs in Toronto where he lives and works. Delray’s vocal ability paired with his endearingly offbeat lyrics made him all the interesting to listen to. His music mixes genres like folk, rock, and a little bit of soul seamlessly. Most of the songs played during his set ended abruptly, not due to error but because Delray seems like the type of guy who might like to hear that awkward silence after a song before people start clapping.

Zeus quickly filled the stage after Delray’s exit. The band filled the awkward silence between sets with a healthy dose of old-school rock and roll, something significantly lacking in today’s music scene. Although they do a rousing cover version of “That’s All by Gensis” Zeus don’t play your dad’s classic rock. Avoiding Phil Collins at every corner, they approach tradition with an energy that makes them completely listenable. Their shredding guitar solos don’t feel dated. If anything, these old tricks feel new again—and fun.

The guys in the band are obviously multi-talented musicians. Frequent and seamless instrument and vocal swapping is probably the result of touring with Collett. The band’s almost-hit “Marching Through Your Head” might just be one of the catchiest pop hits floating around on the internet right now. Behind thick glasses and a mop of shaggy hair is Neil Quin.

Zeus are the type of indie band who manage to narrowly avoid pretension.Their earnestness and talent isn’t a front. As powerful as their namesake, Zeus are a band on the brink of something great.

Zeus has been added to the Western leg of the Metric tour which starts Oct. 28 in Winnipeg. The tour finishes up Nov. 3 in Vancouver then the band will play a homecoming gig at the Rivoli Nov. 12.

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