If you’ve never been to Johnny Jackson in Little Italy before, well it’s not much from the outside or from the inside. But don’t be fooled! This venue is a great place for live music in Toronto. A dirty, greasy spoon style, grit inspired joint. There’s definitely a unique atmosphere and an indefinable charm to the place, one that a Toronto Indie Rock fan can and would appreciate! There’s something fun about walking right up to the 2nd stage from the main floor (where bands play) which then brings you that much closer to the apex of the music.
Onto the show. Being a Benjamin Booker fan, I was pretty impressed to hear that Sam Coffey & Iron Lungs opened for him a few weeks ago. Immediately after the first few songs, it is clear this 6-piece band, with clearly defined influences from both classic rock and garage punk, also has some serious attitude and spirit.
A Rancid, Dropkick Murphy anthemic garage sound was the first thing that came to mind. Subtle yet pleasing layers of dirty/fuzzy punchy guitar rhythms with straight up classic rock melodic piano and lead guitar lines laid a tight foundation for lead singer Sam to yell-sing-scream over with an authoritative somewhat light hearted ‘fuck you I’m gonna drink more’ attitude. Watching the interaction and brotherhood on stage, its clear these guys are not only tight musically but they all share a tangible and refreshing raw style of energy and kinship that you don’t always see in Toronto bands. Call it friendship, call it chemistry, call it a brotherhood, probably all of the above. You really feel like you can drink beers with these guys all night.
I had just watched a similar sounding band the previous night who may have been technically flashier musicians than these guys (not to take anything away from SC&IL as they are solid musicians), but I enjoyed watching Sam Coffey & Iron Lungs much more. It served as a reminder to me that technicality and skill is only so much of the overall picture of what makes an awesome band (in my opinion). If you don’t connect with the audience and have that magnetic energy that rubs off on people, then it makes it hard for anyone to really care, let alone remember your band.
Overall Sam Coffey & Iron Lungs got me pumped up and had me leaving Johnny Jackson wanting to have just one more beer.
A great band and a gritty bar.
Review By: Jonathan Eric
- Toronto Music Reviews