Sometimes a band comes along that you instantly feel a connection to. About two years ago I heard “Talk 2 Her” by Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs for the first time and I knew I had found a new favorite band. Their DIY indie feel, mixed with just the right amount of 70s guitar, virtually guarantees every song of theirs is a banger. Last year I saw them four times, as openers for The Sheepdogs and Frank Turner, as well as headlining their own shows. It’s been about six months since I’d seen them, so when I came across a Facebook post for a free show at a new venue, I knew I had to go.
Jasper Dandy is a newer bar in Toronto’s east end with a great beer list and a delicious menu, but what makes it really special is its back room. The back room holds about 270 people, has a good-sized stage and an amazing sound system perfect for showcasing smaller up-and-coming bands. The show on Friday April 12 was the first of three free shows to introduce Jasper Dandy as a concert venue. The line-up featured Wine Lips, a great three-piece from Toronto that set the pace for the night with their high-energy show.
By 10:30 the room was full and the buzz of anticipation was palpable throughout the crowd. Looking around I recognized quite a few people from the Toronto scene milling about, chatting and having a drink or two.
Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs is a six-piece made up of Sam Coffey on lead vocals and guitar, guitarists Liam Doyle (who is usually in charge of the merch table) and Joel French, bassist Richard Stanley, keyboardist David Tyson and drummer Connor Glen. With little fanfare the band took the stage, everyone except Coffey wearing matching denim vests with the band’s logo patched on the back. Coffey, known for performing in Elvis-style jumpsuits, wore a black outfit with gold details down the side and a gold-lined cape.
The 10-song set featured a good portion of their latest album, Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs from Dine Alone Records; opening their set with the lead-off track of the album, “Talk 2 Her” and then “Voicemail.” For the third song of their set they went back to their previous album, Gates of Hell, playing the title track. The entire time they were on stage the band looked like they were having the time of their lives. French’s smile did not leave his face the entire time and Tyson constantly gave emphatic fist-pumps to accentuate what he was playing. The boys continued with their newest single, “First Time,” which was released in September and will likely appear on their next album which is currently in the works.
They went on to play three more songs from the self-titled album: “Judy,” “PhD” and “Ragnarok.” “PhD” is another song that really connected me with the band. The chorus says “she’s got a PhD, Poppa Has Dough” which was something that my father (whom I lost a few years ago) used to say, so whenever I hear the song I can’t help but smile and think of him. “Ragnarok” is an absolute banger of a song with its Pete Townsend-esque guitars that remind me of “Baba O’Reilly,” and I’m pretty sure Glen was channeling Keith Moon the way he was playing his drums. I couldn’t really see Tyson and Doyle from where I was standing. Throughout it all, Coffey stood center stage in his jumpsuit with a slight smirk, like a general leading his troops into battle knowing exactly what is going to happen and in complete control.
One of the highlights of the night was a new song, “She Knows,” which I instantly fell in love with. They closed out the night with “You Don’t Have to Be Nice” and “Tough” from the last album. As the guest-DJ started spinning some great mash-ups, the boys mingled with the people in bar, basking in the after-glow of an amazing show.
Jasper Dandy is hosting two more free shows: Zues on Friday April 19 and Single Mothers on Friday, April 26. Check out their Facebook page for more details.