Friendship Set Sail!

Disclaimer: I think I have mentioned this before, but I am terrible at writing about music. Also, my inherent biases that arose from meeting the band and really liking them all make this review far from objective, but I own that bias completely.

Last night I went to see This Ship play at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern – and what an excellent night it was! The Horseshoe is dark and a bit grungy, a la George’s Fabulous Roadhouse, which I love. I am assuming the Horseshoe never had dirt floors, which was the case with George’s until surprisingly recently, but the ambiance is similar. The bar seems like a great venue for bands just starting out, as well as for the bigger names that want a more intimate show. I imagine that fans who go to the Horseshoe would be of the sort who expect to be showered liberally with the front man’s saliva and are proud to display the large bruises that have bloomed on their shinbones due to slamming them repeatedly into the speakers. At this kind of venue, these expectations are reasonable, and indeed, part of its charm.

This Ship is the latest musical reincarnation that one of my friends from undergrad, Bethany, has been working on. It was awesome just to see her again, since it had been many years, and getting to see her band play was the chocolate icing on a delicious cupcake. A delicious, music-infused cupcake that has those rainbow bits in it, that’s what This Ship is like, if I permit myself to stray into awkward food analogy territory.

The band is part of a larger musical and arts collective called Berserker Lion, which is based in Halifax, NS and has a badass noble lion as its logo:

The site is definitely worth checking out if you live in the area and are into things like music and art! (I know, super uncommon.)

This Ship stopped in Toronto for the fifth and sixth shows of their Ontario–Maritime tour, during which they are playing a total of nine shows in ten days or something ludicrous like that. As a group, they have a great stage presence, and they have managed to infuse a look that borders on hipster-kid with enough grit to keep things interesting. The same recipe has clearly worked for This Ship’s sound. They blended solid base lines and mad drumming skills and power chords with a harmony of “ooos” (with all five members participating) that elevated their performance into the realm of the achingly beautiful at one point.

This Ship was somewhat of an anomaly in the night’s line-up, as the rest of the bands had a distinctly more metallic flavour. (Think metallic like putting your tongue onto a frosty metal pole in January. It’s not that appealing in theory, and definitely not appealing in practice, but somehow your curiosity gets the best of you and so the pole ends up having an unmistakable tinge of regret, but also of… inevitability? That’s what these bands were like, summed up as a flavour.) Despite this discrepancy in sound, This Ship’s performance garnered an enthusiastic reception from the crowd. The two underage raver-type kids wearing oversized black hoodies and dancing alone in front of the stage during the show were clearly enjoying themselves, at any rate.

After the last of the bands had played, we were rather unceremoniously kicked out of the venue and sought out drinks at the next open bar. This turned out to the Friar & Firkin, a bar whose alliterative allure was only enhanced by the fact that I had no idea what a firkin is. (Click here to be severely underwhelmed by the definition. I was misguidedly anticipating something more along the lines of this guy.)

My concluding thought: musicians are crazy! This verdict was amplified by the fact that I ended up crashing along with the band on Mink’s unforgiving wooden floors at 3 a.m. because I didn’t feel like walking home in the pouring rain. My body felt like a sad old bag of bones this morning, but it was totally worth it. How can their bodies take the constant exhaustion, which is only enhanced by the drinking after a successful show? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, given the fact that I would totally go on a road trip with these guys and be “band-aids,” Almost Famous styles – but we’re not merely groupies, amirite Penny Lane?

Watch this movie, watch it now

This Ship is quirky, talented, and fully in love with music. See them if you can!


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