Review: Dear Rouge & Lights at Elements Nightclub in Kitchener, April 6, 2018

Dear Rouge at Elements Nightclub in Kitchener

Maybe something good is coming.

Two and a half years ago I began my first review of a Dear Rouge show with almost the same line. It just wasn’t quite right. I misremembered it because it was from a new song they were playing while touring their first album, Black to Gold. I’d never heard it before, but I immediately loved it. I misremembered it as, “Maybe something good is gonna happen.”

It’s fitting in a couple of ways that I begin this review with the correct line. First, it was really the overarching theme of both acts I saw last night. And second, because when I first heard it I was just starting to buy into the notion that there could always be a good thing coming around the corner. But my thinking, like my misremembering of the line, wasn’t quite right. I was trying to emerge from a lifetime of cynicism as my ride-or-die, my BFF, my go-to guy.

The line explodes in the chorus of “Little by Little,” which thankfully made it onto their second album, Phases. It also happened to be their set closer last night. While I stood there in Kitchener’s Elements Nightclub – basking in Danielle McTaggart’s soaring vocals, seeing them perform the song for the third time, and seeing the band for the fourth time – I realized that I believe it now. I believe that something good is coming. Just writing that puts a smile on my face. And as you can see from the picture at the bottom of this review, smiles don’t come easily to my face.

They began their set with four or five booming songs from Phases, and I found them to sound even heavier than on the album. They really exploded, even more than the few songs they played from Black to Gold – other than “Tongues,” which never fails to get the party bouncing. And that’s to take nothing away from those songs. And maybe if they’d played standout first-album tracks like “I Heard I Had” or “Best Look Lately,” they would’ve popped just as much. I missed those songs, but I get that they had a relatively short set and wanted people to hear the awesome new stuff.

The thing about Dear Rouge is they just make me happy. That feeling set in as Drew McTaggart stepped up for a surprise guitar solo in the midst of “Motions” from the new album, which came three or four songs in. The solo is not on the album and I had just written a review where I said I admired his restraint as a guitar player, even though I know from live videos that he can wail. Okay, I’m being real here: I know it had nothing to do with what I said in that review, but that solo felt like a gift to me. Even if it was a little cosmic gift, rather than one from Drew. It was this melodic, atmospheric little journey on the fretboard and I loved every note of it. After the show, Drew told me that’s his style, that he prefers to play melodically rather than the kind of bluesy wankery I’ll freely admit I like to play. But I admire players who can pull off the melodic stuff, because I can’t.

My point is, that solo put a huge smile on my face and every song after that just reinforced it. And the music and the experience clearly puts an almost perpetual smile on Danielle’s face, which puts a smile on my face – she literally takes multiple smile breaks during her performance, where she simply stands on stage and poses confidently while flashing her biggest smile. Plus, they continually bring a smile to my face off stage as well, just by being super cool people who genuinely remember their fans and sign posters for their fans’ twin boys (well ,maybe the latter only applies to me).

Lights at Elements Nightclub in Kitchener

Now, Lights. I follow her on Twitter. I’ve listened to some of her music over the past couple of weeks. I admire her artistry and her positivity. I loved her “maybe something good is coming” moment, when she talked about her comic and how it’s all about the light that comes when we make our way through metaphorical darkness. But, real talk again: I’m just not a big fan. Her music just doesn’t hit me in the same way the music I love does. I think she’s very talented. And I definitely got something out of some of her songs. She’s a wonderfully energetic performer who clearly loves and feels grateful for her fans. I get why people adore her. And that’s what I kept thinking during her set: these people who are cheering Lights, who are shouting out that they love her, who are singing along with her, they feel the same way about her as I do about Dear Rouge.

And that’s the beautiful thing about music. We don’t all have to love the same music, as long as we all have music to love.

Kevin Wilson and Dear Rouge at Elements Nightclub in Kitchener
One day, the author is going to learn both how to smile and how to take a selfie from a better angle.
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One thought on “Review: Dear Rouge & Lights at Elements Nightclub in Kitchener, April 6, 2018

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