Dwayne Gretzky time travels into Ale

Cover band takes the 90s in Kingston tour stop 

Dwayne Gretzky performing at Ale House on May 18.
Dwayne Gretzky performing at Ale House on May 18.
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On May 18, with crimped hair, colourful shirts, and  killer dance moves, Dwayne Gretzky brought the ‘90s back to Ale House.

The Toronto-based cover band has risen to fame over the past five years with spirited live performances of everyone’s favourite pop-rock classics. 

On their Big Shiny Dwayne tour, the band showcases why they’re a success, paying homage to a decade we only saw while in diapers.

“[The ’90’s] was grunge, it was colourful, it was fresh print, and Saved by the Bell, and Friends and Seinfeld, and Bill Clinton, and pre-internet, pre-cell phone. All these things that we’re very nostalgic for,” frontman Tyler Kyte said when he sat down with The Journal

Despite the tour’s theme, Dwayne Gretzky only started in 2013—almost by accident. 

They were friends hanging out, playing music together, when a YouTube video of them spontaneously jamming at the Dakota bar in Toronto came out under the name Dwayne Gretzky and launched their career. 

Kyte said he and his friends started learning songs that they enjoyed listening to growing up, and wanted to learn to play themselves. Eventually, they found an audience that loved to hear it.  

“[We would] learn them for no reason other than we just wanted to have something to play in the intermission of the Leafs game while we were just jamming,” Kyte said. 

On Friday, they brought the laidback vibe of a living-room jam session to Ale House, complimented with an easy chemistry between bandmates. 

It was infectious—being a member of their audience felt no different than sitting on the floor of their living room. 

The era they played made their performance so strong. When asked what made the ’90s so special, Kyte was adamant that it was the band member’s formative era. For Dwayne Gretzky, and much of the audience, the ’90s were a time when they grew into their own: it was their adolescence, the peak of their musical memory. 

Throughout the night, Dwayne Gretzky played plenty of ’90s classics, including “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve, “I Want it That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, and ’90s hip-hop rap. 

While it was largely the killer set list that had people longing for the days of their youth, it was the details in the performance that got people up and jumping around.    

The entire band was decked out in ’90s getups  right out of a single-set sitcom. Bassist, Dave Dalrymple, sporting a large denim coat, long shaggy hair, and a baseball cap, looked like he’d just walked off the set of the 1992 movie Wayne’s World.

Meanwhile, vocalists Jill Harris and Lydia Persaud looked like they were about to break it down with Salt-N-Pepa in baggy splash pants and colourful windbreakers.  While her outfit was killer, it was Persaud’s smoothly versatile voice that flawlessly switched from soul ballads to hip-hop and rap that really stole the show. 

As they played hit after hit, band members cheered each other on and danced along to the night’s guilty pleasures. As if their songs weren’t impressive enough, their dance moves were infectious, encouraging the audience to join them as if they forgot there was anybody else there. 

It was clear that playing these songs was as fun for the band as it was for their audience. For the crowd,  ’90s culture mattered just as much as now as it did two decades ago. 

Like anything nostalgic, the show had a sad tinge. As the night ended and people filtered out, they realized that the show was over, and, evidently, so were the ’90s. 

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