October 2006

Down With Webster
October 14, 2006The Drake UndergroundToronto
Getting Down
by Tony Shivpershad with photos by M.B. Smith
The crowd was still very small. The band was annoyed that they had to go onstage so early, but the Drake had overbooked this night, and the stage had to be cleared in time to make room for the DJs who would be taking over the Drake Underground at midnight. There were only about fifty people in the room when two guitarists got on stage, picked up their instruments, and starting fiddling around with them.

Then, I kid you not, a streaker ran through the room. The youth clad in nothing but sneakers, knee-high tube socks, yellow underwear and topped off with a huge afro ran straight at the stage. Unbelievably, he jumped right in behind the drum set and started pounding a beat. In an instant, the band materialized on stage, and Down With Webster was in full flight in a heavy rock guitar number known as “Fuck Bang”.

They’re young, all in their early twenties and based out of an east-Toronto community known as The Beach. There was the drummer and the two guitarists, as well as a DJ, bassist, keyboardist, sax player and two vocalists. Their influences come from all genres, and they make ample use of them as is evidenced by their music.

They have a repertoire over 200 songs. They span many genres: jazz, funk, rock, hip-hop. Tonight, they are focused on pop/rock. The next song up is “Trumpet Bump”, followed by “Miracle Mile”.

This is Open House Party night at the Drake, something that only happens once a month. There are 3 levels of parties going on, and the $5 cover charge allows one to come and go between them all. Word must be out that there’s a hot band on stage in the Underground. The crowd has doubled since they first got onstage, so they unleash “Weekend”, a euphoric ode to our favourite couple of days of the week, and their most famous song to date. “Weekend” has seen regular rotation on Toronto pop-music station CHUM FM. Bucky, the lead vocalist, knows he’s got the crowd, and entices them to “put your hands in the sky and sing it with me now”.
Heads are bobbin’ on the next song, “Odie”, probably the oldest song played this night by this band that has been around for twelve years already. They were formed to compete in an eighth grade talent contest. The next song was “for the ladies”. A very energetic song called, “Go Go Girl”.

After playing six pop songs, the band flexed some of their musical versatility for the next couple of songs. A special guest MC named Cam Solo joined the band for a ska-reggae infused song called “Coconuts”. “Do It Again” began with a funky drum solo, and showed some jazz influence complete with a beautiful sax solo.

The room was packed full of people when the final set of songs took it back to the rock vibe. There was an ode to those born in the 1980’s, called “Eighties babies”, which left me feeling old, then “Eyewitness”, and finally, the exclamation point at the end of the great, high-energy set was “Get Gone”, and much too soon they did.

Down With Webster plans to release their first album in January and monthly mix tapes after that. Try to catch these guys soon, while it’s still cheap and easy to get tickets, because it won’t be long before they’re selling out huge stadiums.

We welcome your comments and feedback
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Tony Shivpershad
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The Live Music Report

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