Spotlight: soulful pop rockers the Arkells trade in Hamilton dive bars for the ACC
In this post-Bieber era, when any bedroom singer with a YouTube account and a good hook can become a global pop star overnight, the Arkells are a throwback to a time when bands proved themselves worthy by hitting the road and hauling their own equipment from gig to gig. The five guys in the group are consummate stage hounds, ready to play anywhere, any time—tiny dives, block parties, half-time shows at football games, and more elegant affairs like the COC’s most recent Operanation gala, where they performed with the soprano Ambur Braid. The band, which hails from Hamilton, road-tested the tunes on their second album, Michigan Left, and it shows: every big chorus—delivered by singer Max Kerman in a soulful belt that’s part Springsteen, part Hall and Oates—sounds like it was designed to cause much raising of fists and spilling of beer. They’re on a hot streak, with a surprise Group of the Year win at last year’s Juno Awards, tours in Europe, and bigger and bigger shows at home, like this month’s Valentine’s Day concert at the ACC with The Tragically Hip. They even landed that most coveted honour for indie rock bands in the 21st century, a song on a popular TV teen drama: “Where U Goin,” an ’80s-tinged rave-up from the new album, appeared on 90210 last January. The group missed the episode when it first aired—they were busy playing a show.
The Arkells with the Tragically Hip
Air Canada Centre