Nu Music Nite – Rikers @ The Horseshoe

Rikers are a Toronto group with a fresh album, a new video (see above) about to embark on a huge tour opening for reformed Can-Con Rock Icons (Can-Icons?) Big Wreck. I caught them recently, and was left with the impression of a band who’s worked hard to hit the big time, with a super polished stage act and music-video style that belied their status as newcomers to the big-label scene. I first heard about this group a few months ago, when they played a well-publicized (and well-received) residency at The Garrison. Since then, I guess they’ve been in the studio, because onstage last week, the singer quipped that one of the songs had only been finished the week before.

Coming off the show, I think my biggest takeaway was the timbre of the singer’s voice. While a band this heavy on synth hooks–and yes, the keyboard player wears those aviator sunglasses on stage too–might be expected to have a light, bouncy tenor, the singer of Rikers has a voice and a presence that lends a necessary weight and, dare I say it, balls to their performance.

Seriously–as if the Mad Max hair didn’t do the trick, this guy’s voice is enough to instantly show an audience this band is a different take on that sound. It was really refreshing to hear that matched up with the rest of Rikers’ light, radio-friendly sound.

Their single, I’m On The Radio (again, see above) was the second song they played. They’ve obviously got big dreams, and played that way–like the crowd was a sold-out house of strangers at Madison Square Garden. Lots of leaning out over the crowd, lots of rock-star asides–“For one day, say what you mean and mean what you say. Make your words heavy.”

In The Horseshoe, I’m not sure it played that well, but get them onstage at the Kool Haus, and I’m sure the big-show flash will go over better. The gig at the Horseshoe had that feel, actually–a band prepared for a much larger venue, coming in and trying to keep their set within the confines of a small club. It’ll be interesting to catch them when they play the Danforth Music Hall May 10th and 11th supporting Big Wreck.

Check out their website, rikersmusic.com . Great site design–and they like Sparklehorse! Points in my book, right there.

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