Barrie residents that lined up outside The Ranch under an ominous sky, did anything but complain on Thursday night. These were the lucky few that scored tickets to the sold-out Big Sugar and The Trews show, so picture-taking, giggling and texting about the show inside kept the crowd busy instead, and replaced any concerns for not having an umbrella.
Upon entering the venue and being greeted by an array of country-themed decor and southern flags hanging from the ceiling, most concert-goers immediately made their way towards the stage . It was obvious when deafening cheering started immediately as The Trews made their way to the stage, that this “opening act” was far more than that. The Trews, consisting of vocalist Colin MacDonald, brother John-Angus Macdonald on guitar, cousin Sean Dalton on drums, bassist Jack Syperek and Jeff Heisolt (also of Burt Neilson Band) on keyboards, were all smiles as they set up for their set, just as the roaring crowd before them.
The humble Canadian band (originating out of Antigonish, N.S., and ThunderBay, ON) has not let fame or their Juno-nomination status go to their heads. Performing and recording since 1997 (officially signed in 2002), they have been gaining momentum as the years go by, winning over new fans in every city and appealing to radio listeners everywhere. Their music, though mostly rock utilizes elements of many music genres, therefore appealing to an even wider audience. At the recent Barrie, Ontario show (as part of the New Music Fest Barrie) The Trews did not disappoint. Their high energy performance was a perfect balance of pure rock, and rock-country ballads. Crowd favourites were played in perfect sequence, and there was never a lull. This band has truly mastered the art of the stage, combining story-telling, calling on the audience participation and good old fashioned instrument solos.
While the band played hits like “Tired of Waiting” and “Not Ready to Go” (which the crowd happily sang along word-for-word), Highway of Heroes was likely the favourite performance of of the night. Faces lit up as lead singer Colin MacDonald dedicated that night’s performance to he soldiers of Base Borden (in the nearby Barrie town of Angus, Ontario). Originally written after the death of Captain Nichola Goddard in Afghanistan, the crowd joined in singing nearly the entire song, and cheers were replaced by the chanting of the chorus over and over with Canadian pride. Not only did the band write and perform this song to show gratitude for the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers, but they have also chosen to have the proceeds of that song on iTunes, go to the Canadian Hero Fund.
The Trews ‘ hybrid of rock and country sound draws in large crowds, but after their live performance, it is obvious that it is their energy, heart and stage presence that keeps their loyal fans around, while reeling in new listeners. On September 30th, The Trews will be performing at the CASBY awards (Canadian Artists Selected by You) alongside Tokyo Police Club, Hot Hot Heat, Alexisonfire, Hollerado, KO, and Elias. Their music is available in stores across Canada, and on iTunes.