DMA's The Garrison, Toronto ON, May 26
Published May 27, 2015In case the bucket lead-singer Tommy O'Dell wears in the band's press photos didn't make it abundantly clear, Aussie trio the DMA's worship at the altar of '90s Britpop. It's an important note to make, not just because it hints at the source of the band's sound, but because it's the tip of several visual cues that potential fans face when seeing the band for the first time.
No bucket hats were present at the band's Toronto debut at the Garrison, but O'Dell brandished a tambourine for the band's entire 45-minute set, doing nothing to dispel the Oasis comparisons that dog the band. But DMA's made it abundantly clear that they're more interested in creating stadium-sized sing-alongs than channelling the sartorial choices and arrogant swagger of their heroes onstage.
Nominally a trio, O'Dell and guitarists Matt Mason and Jonny Took were augmented by bass, drums and a third guitar, giving tracks like opener "Laced" some added heft. It also stripped the band of some of the studio gloss present on their debut EP; the rough-around-the-edges sound suits the group well, even if it overpowered some of the nuance that make songs like "Your Low" such welcome earworms. It also showcased the side of the band that clearly spent as much time studying the '80s American underground as it did the Great Mancunian Songbook.
Through it all, Mason and Took could be seen singing along with O'Dell, with Mason often striking triumphant football poses next to the singer. Laddish behaviour aside though, the trio seemed genuine in their desire to have everyone join in, even if the bar was only a third full, with most of the crowd standing a ways back from the crowded stage.
The evening's highlight, however, came when the auxiliary members exited the stage, leaving the band's three primaries to work through the mostly acoustic "So You Know" and "Delete." With nothing to hide behind, O'Dell's vocals were finally front and centre, soaring above Took's acoustic guitar. Even if the big crescendo of "Delete" didn't hit as hard as it does on record, it was still a pretty special moment, and one the band can hopefully replicate more often as they continue to write big anthems for small spaces.