Doc Marten's and mohawks were replaced by cowboy boots and plaid as the River Town Saints rolled into Mavericks on Friday night. Ottawa's favourite metal venue was officially taken over by the boys from the Valley.
Before the night got started a strapping young man came over to introduce himself to Dave, the recognizably bearded man that he is. This young man was Rory Gardiner, the opening act who would warm up the stage for the River Town Saints.
After our hellos, Rory and his band didn't mess around as they hit the stage with their rendition of Queen's Fat Bottom Girl. The crowd kicked right into gear with boots stompin' and hips shakin'.
As the set rolled on, they found a happy balance between Rory's original material (including a little diddy he wrote with Tim Hicks back in the day) and covers that kept the crowd swaying with each tune. I know Rory said that the Shania cover was "for the ladies", but I have my doubts as I'm pretty sure everyone in the crowd was feeling like a woman by the end of his set.
The room built in excitement as the River Town Saints prepared to take the stage, the guys getting high fives from eager fans staking out their claim at the front. The lights turned to the stage and the boys hit the stage like a two-stepping stack of dynamite.
In what was likely Maverick's first ever "stomp clap" (self explanatory), the River Town Saints kept the energy up with their tune 'Like it Like That' and the crowd hung onto every verse. Then, bassist Daniel DiGiacomo surprised everyone as he stepped out of the shadows to take over the mic and drop some smooth rhymes on us with an unexpected cover of California Love that then melted into a country rendition of Outclast's Hey Ya.
One thing that struck me was that only at a country show have I ever spotted a couple, lost in their own world, slow dancing at the side of the room while everyone else is pounding out the 'stomp and clap' and the boys are tearing up the stage. I can dig a crowd like that. While this wasn't the type of show I'd normally see at Mavericks on a Friday night, this band brings an insane amount of energy to the stage and their fans are not shy to give even more in return. Highly recommend.
Stay in touch with the River Town Saints on their facebook or website, as I have no doubt that within a few years you'll be wishing you could still see them at a small 300 person venue, instead of 60 rows back at TD Place.