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.