Thursday nights are usually an indication of two things: that it’s nearing the end of a work week and possibly time to share a few pints with friends after work for Thirsty-Thursdays. This particular Thursday marked the first time I experienced a live show at Library Square- a venue probably more associated for watching a Canucks game or going out for drinks and dancing on weekends and probably (though hopefully not) trapped in line outside. This time it was to go see a double set of rock and blues numbers by up-and-coming Vancouver band Damn Fools. Where once was smashed beer bottles on a crowded dance floor, now were mics, amps, and electric guitars.
Admittedly, this was not the first time I have been fortunate to catch this new band play. The first time was at the classic Kits favorite, The Bimini. At the time, they were a live staple in the place, honing their chops and building upon their performance. Starting out, it’s always important for a band to develop their sound and style by playing live as often as possible in front of a live crowd, no matter how packed the house. Just like the Beatles and many bands before them, Damn Fools have benefited, improved and grown from these experiences and their classic stylings and roots are certainly testament to that. You can tell that this band is as enthralled with classic rock sound as it is with anything contemporary. In fact, the first time I saw the band play, there were about as many covers of classic tunes from bands like the Rolling Stones and Creedence Clearwater Revival in their repertoire as there were originals. Definitely not a bad thing. All artists become who and what they are from the meticulous study of their influences, and from mining inspiration from those sources and piecing and stitching the elements they enjoy most together. Seeing Damn Fools a second time I have the luxury of comparing and contrasting their two shows and measure their development- and I must say that this band has come a long way.
Around 10 or so, Damn Fools took the stage and unleashed a thunderous roar of crunching guitar riffs, bluesy solos, powerfully tight drumming, thick bass, keyboard flourishes and soulful vocals. Immediately I was struck by how polished they had become, and to everyone else seeing them for the first time, it was obvious that this was more than a mere bar band. The band hadn’t lost touch with the cover tunes that helped get them to this point, however. “Brown Sugar” by the Stones and “Signed, Sealed Delivered” by Stevie Wonder were still featured in the band’s set, but it wasn’t the covers I was most impressed with. If Damn Fools spent the last several months between when I first saw them and now designing the architecture of what would be their sound, their covers definitely played their part in that, but the new material they had come up with proved itself to shine just as bright. Adding a keyboardist definitely brought a strong new melodic element to their music as well, allowing for two talented guitarists to add the edginess of their songs. Damn Fools played on after a brief intermission, shifting effortlessly between rock, blues, and soul while Library Square slowly filled up and people became brave enough to enter the dance floor and get swept up in their rhythm. Alternating between shorter numbers and longer jams, the band played a consistently engaging double set allowing for variation to coincide with their momentum. It’s refreshing to see a band slowly progress into who they want to be and definitely a treat to watch a band like Damn Fools where each band member is entirely integral to the machinery of what the makes the music work. Plugging their shimmeringly soulful single “Shame” off their upcoming debut release this June was also a great way to end on a high note and offer a sense of what’s to come for this band in the months ahead. Damn Fools are also featured in the line up for the 2nd Keloha summer music and arts festival this July where they are certain to bring more fans to the fold.
All in all, any given thursday is a nice one to catch some killer live music by a local band, but the Damn Fools proved that they are a band to start watching more closely.