Are Derm Kean & An Incredible Woman the Best Band in Town?

A show review and new music video from Derm Kean & an Incredible Woman

As far as the local music scene is concerned, there are two kinds of shows. One kind of Friday night show is the one you go to because that’s what’s happening tonight and you don’t know where else to go, and you would like a pint. You spend those kinds of  nights drinking and shouting into the ears of your friends, OVER the music.

Those kind of shows provide a valuable service in giving us a place to have a few drinks that night. I’m not being facetious, that is a vital service. But ultimately, that’s all these shows do. They have little command over your attention, which means they are not commanding your attention.

The second type of  show is the kind of performance that punctuates your long week with the Friday night you deserved. At these shows, you walk away with the very rare feeling of being terribly sorry for your friends who missed it. This performance might even come with a light show, as did Friday Night’s Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman show.

Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman deliver. They take over the bar, they consume your attention, and they obliterate everything but you, the music, and the small radius of people dancing directly beside you.

The guitarist looks like he’s being simultaneously electrocuted and possessed by the music, and you can’t help feel the same way. The pounding drums and bass become your heartbeat, and the dancefloor feels like the inside of a popping bag of popcorn, and Derm is right in the heat of it: he spends half his time off the stage and in your face, like a proper entertainer, to remind you you’ve paid money to be here, so you best dance like you mean it.

Or, respectfully mosh like you mean it, and see the bruise the next morning as a reason to smile about what you did with your Friday night.

There’s certainly some quality performances available from other  notable acts in St. John’s, in terms of a rowdy barshow . Jody Richardson’s kick’n’howl should be trademarked, and Pathological Lovers showcase a rare chemistry akin to any great jam rockband. Mark Bragg has the kind of uninhibited, crowd-stirring personality Derm has, and if you get enough beer in Darren ‘Boobie’ Browne he’ll show you the true meaning of rock and roll.Green & Gold deliver a great, energetic show, barely giving you a pause between their songs: one catchy tune bleeds into the next. Monsterbator have earned their reputation as “Newfoundland’s best hard rock band (Vish Khanna, Exclaim Magazine).” The Dardanelles put the RAD in trad shows.

Anyone who left The Ship Friday night left as satisfied as if they’d just seen their favourite band for the first time. What that means is that every band in town should be at Derm’s next show as homework: This is how it works, kids. All or nothing. And toss out any song that doesn’t excite you, because if you don’t love it — if it doesn’t move you — you can’t expect a crowd to hush up and get behind it either. 

There are quite a few reasons to never miss one of their shows, the least of which being how infrequently they play — a trick other local acts abide by, such as Mark Bragg and Pilot to Bombardier (though maybe those guys are just too busy to play) — and there’s the fact that if two people as busy as Jud Haynes and Krista Power have decided the one band they want to play in is Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman, then that alone speaks volumes.

In short, if you were at any show but this one Friday night you either accidentally or intentionally insulted your own taste in music and Friday night plans. This is the kind of stuff you wanna see live. It’s a sound meant for the stage. And the band certainly won’t let you forget it. They perform, they’re dancing along with you, and they remove your inhibition to let go and have the night you needed.

What’s impressive is that I — a man whose iTunes collection is 90% quiet, depressing acoustic music — can’t get enough of the song below. I’ve had it on for the twenty-five  minutes it took me to sit and post this article. Keep an eye out for their forthcoming album.

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  • derm and the by’s are a great band. they bring it every time at an energy level few can muster. kudos to you overcast for callin out a band truly commited to what they do, and laying down the gauntlet for other bands to aspire to that calibre

  • I for one was glad to see this paper finally get critical about the arts. I’d stop talking it seriously if it was 100% non-critical. I didn’t find it offensive, and I am a musician.

  • Everybody needs to relax! Every month Paste Magazine or Pitchfork or somewhere is posting “The best 20 songs of the year so far” or something like that. These kinds are articles are only meant to start some discussion and share worthwhile work, which this article has. Have you all missed the humour in it? Its a fun article having fun with hyperbole. Read it again, embracing the tone as a fun one beig funny

  • If this is the “best” band in town, the town clearly has no music scene worth talking about.

    • It does. You can’t judge a music scene from a single band. There’s several dozen great ones here, in any genre. Tell me what kind of music you’re into, and I’ll show you a few bands that will blow your mind. It’ll be fun, I won’t quit until you’re hooked on something from here.

  • I went to a different show that Friday night and had a great time. I saw good bands play energetic and enthusiastic sets. Not saying Derm Kean isn’t an amazing performer (or that he doesn’t deserve accolades… he might indeed front the best band in St. John’s) but I’m not positive that I, or the other people that attended the show, insulted our own tastes in music…

    • That comment — that whole paragraph, as with the tone of the article — was an attempt at humour 😉 I’m sure you didn’t either.

      • It’s strange that you are at once claiming to be wandering into the realm of serious music criticism, yet you’re encouraging me to read this with humour. I wonder who this article is really being critical of? The band that was written about had a glowing review. The other named acts were carefully and delicately delivered a dose of good ol fashioned adoration. The only thing really criticized are the multitude of unnamed bands that are already being snubbed by a serious lack of coverage. What is criticism without a subject? For a paper that champions newfoundland culture, it consistently seems out of touch (to some degree). I’m always looking for reasons to enjoy this paper, and with each issue it seems to get better and better. But this article, regardless of how one percieves derms band (I love em), seems to miss its mark in approaching serious music criticism.

        • That’s a fair statement. This article wasn’t meant to criticize any band’s performance, it was written to praise Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman’s stage presence, and more specifically, to use their Friday night show as a chance to talk about the idea of performance. What does it add to a Friday night show? How important is performance? Criticism isn’t about tearing a band or album apart, it’s about talking critically on what makes something good (or bad). It would have been cruel and unproductive to have negatively criticized certain bands by name, because it would have added nothing to the conversation but hurtful remarks. The Overcast won’t ever publish an article about how bad a band is, for a variety of reasons, one of which is a hope that if you see an album in the review section of the paper you can trust it’s a good one in its genre, cherry-picked to be discussed. Also, many publications, like ours, choose to NOT talk about things not quite up to snuff, as doing so is a waste of people’s time — we’re trying to drive sales to artists and entrepreneurs, not kneecap them. And I’m paying 75 an article, so I can’t waste money.

          The notion we’re “out of touch” is something I’d like to hear more on (honestly, email me some stuff you think is worthwhile, I am but one man who can only afford so many writers — I think it is throwing a few people for a loop that we’re boldly trying to avoid talking exclusively about “cool” music and we’re trying to cover a broad range of genres, and basically, anything that does a good job for what it is. Most ALT papers are written off for being “hipster rags” that discuss the same 10 acts over and over, as if everyone’s heard them, and I’m trying to avoid that: who wants a readership that already know all the bands being talked about, who does that benefit? A broad readership –procured by writing about a wide range of music — exposes more people people to anyone mentioned in The Overcast, broadening audience for a band. Whether youre a metalhead who surprisingly enjoyed Ben Caplan last week, or a trad-loving nan ready to give Pet Vet a shot. I certainly run stories about bands that aren’t to my taste, but are good at what they do.

          Also, a lot of the people and bands approached for coverage fail on their end to answer interview questions, etc, so there’s a number of reasons people you would like to see covered aren’t, or, people you think ruin the credibility of the paper are being covered. We’re not the typical ALT paper, and I expect some flack for that, taste wise. Also, maybe you’re 20 and think talking about Ben Harper makes the paper seem old, or maybe you’re 60 and think not talking about Ron Hynes makes us seem young and naive — it’s all relative, and quite a struggle to make this a true community paper — i.e, for something for everyone. Plus, in a town like this it’s impossible TO be in touch, there’s so much going on! Also, we all have our scene preferences. I happen to be at The Ship or The Levee a lot for folkier, or indie rock type stuff (excuse that term). I’m doing what I can to keep up on other music scenes. That said “in the loop” is pretty relative — I’m sure we have different opinions on the five best bands in town, and that only means there’s a ton of good stuff worth arguing over here.

          I appreciate the kind words that the paper is improving. WHen it started it started with very little money, and I risked having to sell my car or house to make it work, because I insist on paying writers fairly, so it had fewer contributors at first. As well, setting up a business– incorporation, lawyers, setting up a distribution channel, etc, etc — was very time consuming to the point the content suffered. The paper is certainly hitting a stride now. And is always open to feedback, in the considered and reasonable form you’re speaking in here.

  • Come on Dave, I mean, who wants to read an all-bands-are-equal piece, anyway? It’s boring and dishonest. God forbid a mediocre band’s feelings get hurt cause they didn’t get their fair share of false praise from someone who barely means it.

    …. Sorry if that came off in a mean-spirited way, I just think it’s the right thing to celebrate the truly good amongst us, particularly if it can help them reach the bigger audience they deserve.

    • Yes, Dave, I’m glad you expressed your opinion, I can see how someone might take offense to some of the article … but saying that some bands could learn a thing or two from this band isn’t an insult: The author of this article is a novelist and musician, and he would be the first to say he could learn a thing or two from fellow artists, and he does, and it’s how he grows as an artist. Any artist who thinks they’re great will never grow. Also, ranking bands is bunk, I agree, everyone has different tastes and reactions to the same album, but, yearly countdowns, for example, are pretty common, so a writer for The Overcast is hardly the first person to imply one band is better than another. I appreciate your view on this, and hope you continue expressing them, but I think commentary on a piece of writing needs to avoid presuming what an author meant.

  • WTF? Who wrote this? Have you any idea how you make every other band in St. John’s sound irrelevant and worthless? I get you’d like to praise your fave band here in print, but tone it back a little.

    • Hi Dave: Chad Pelley wrote this article. Any article in the Overcast that expresses an opinion will be attributed to a name (below the article). It’s unfortunate you read it the way you did, as it was intended to praise a great performance Friday night, not to belittle “EVERY” band in town. There are so, so many amazing bands in this city. Many of which put off a good live show, many don’t. What’s a review without some honesty? There is an element of truth that some acts — from the Dardanelles (trad) to Monsterbator (heavy) — command attention of a crowd, and should be recognized for their ability and ambition andtalents in that regard.

      Lastly: Chad merely posed the question, based on a performance, Are they? Performance is only one way to evaluate a band. His favourite band in St. John’s is likely a 13-way tie between artists of many genres. The release of Derm Kean and an Incredible Woman’s new album will determine, for HIM (not the city of St. John’s), if they’re in on that 13-way tie game. There’s too many ways to appreciate a single act to have a true favourite, but when it comes to performance, these guys are hard to top. Most other musicians in town would agree. Again, this article is about musical performance, not musical worth.

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