Marianas Trench have already made a name for themselves in their home country of Canada, selling out arenas and even winning a Juno Award along the way. So what is a band who has already conquered the airwaves at home suppose to do? Hit the touring circuit in the United States of course.
On Sunday (Jan. 24), the Vancouver-based four-piece made their way to South Florida for the second leg of their “Hey You Guys! Tour.” Pulling up to the parking lot in front of Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale, a moderate-sized line could already be seen starting to form. In the line you could make out some people dressed in typical South Florida winter gear, a handful of attendees in ‘80s apparel while others sported frontman Josh Ramsay’s iconic bleached hair with a patch of electric blue. After shuffling in a little after seven, the venue began to fill out slowly.
After waiting about half-an-hour, the first band of the evening hit the stage. Ft. Lauderdale-based My Electric Heart showed the audience what they had to offer during their 20 minute set. During their time, they showed off some catching pop-rock tracks including original songs like “Dangerous” as well as an electro-pop cover of The Weeknd’s “Often.” Just as they were about to begin their final song, “Long Way Home,” they were advised that their time had run out. Before officially finishing their set, they did let everyone know that the current single could be found on Jukebox, an electronic jukebox found at South Florida restaurant chain Flanigan’s.
After a quick set change, it was time for the next opening band to take the stage; New York’s Mainland. From the get go, the group seemed to give off that “cool guys from New York” vibe, very similar to what you have learned to expect from another New York-based band, The Strokes. They further proved their coolness with their song “Not As Cool.” Fitting.
During the set, frontman Jordan Topf took a quick break from the music to give recognition to a special someone in the audience; his grandmother Elaine. As he introduced her, and pointed to where she was sitting, proudly waving a band tee in the air. Topf began to joke around with Mainland guitarist, Alex Pitta, who said that the frontman wouldn’t be there without her. Topf took it a little further by saying that he wouldn’t be there if the older lady hadn’t given birth to his late father. Too much information, but isn’t that what being a frontman is all about? After a couple of more songs which included their new single, “Outcast,” the title track from their recently released EP, their set came to a close.
Once their set had wrapped, the Mainland guys began to pick up their gear as a playlist which can be only be described as “the best of the ’80s,” began to blast through the speakers. Songs like Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” A-Ha’s “Take on Me,” Wham’s “Wake Me Up,” Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and more kept the predominantly young crowd pumped for the show that was about to take place. As a Michael Jackson song came to an end, the stage went dark and a rouse of cheers erupted from the crowd. The sound of fans at the front of the barricades freaking out quickly mingled with the sounds of excitement from the other fans in the crowd.
The first band member to emerge on the stage was drummer Ian Casselman with his awesome sideburns. Casselman quickly began drumming as several bright-colored spotlights flashed on him. He was soon joined on stage by guitarist Matt Webb and bassist Mike Ayley who were both dressed like they had jumped off a traveling stage production of Rock of Ages. The last one on stage was the one band member the vast majority of the audience was eagerly waiting for: frontman Josh Ramsay.
The second he sauntered across the stage to his microphone, dressed like the missing member of Alice Cooper’s band, you knew you were going to be in for a fun show. Quickly, the band launched into the first song of the evening, “Astoria.” Much like their recently released album by the same name, “Astoria” opened the record and now the show.
With that one song, the four-piece proved why they are so popular and beloved back home. With immeasurable enthusiasm, over-the-top energy, and a lot of sass on Ramsay’s part, you could see why they have become known for selling out major arenas. As Ramsay stood at the front of the stage in his tight, stone-washed looking pants, unbuttoned see-through black shirt, top hat, and makeup, you almost felt like you were at some ’80s hair metal band’s concert as opposed to a pop-rock group’s show.
After “Astoria,” the band continued with their 17-track setlist which included several tracks from Astoria such as “Yesterday,” “Burning Up,” “This Means War,” and others. While the setlist did include a lot of tracks off of the new album, they mixed things up by adding some songs from their older records including songs from Masterpiece Theater and Ever After. Songs like “All to Myself” and “Cross My Heart” represented 2009’s Masterpiece Theater while tracks like “Fallout,” “Stutter,” and “Desperate Measures” represented 2011’s Ever After.
Ramsay’s showmanship gave you the feeling that he could be your sassy best friend with his “don’t care” attitude, charming personality, and inappropriate timing. Before beginning on the somber track “One Love,” Ramsay joked about returning to Ft. Lauderdale because it seemed like a great place to party. He made sure to point out the multitude of bras that currently called the roof above the venue’s bar home. In that moment, Ramsay made the realization that he had a tendency of saying the most inappropriate and outlandish things before tackling serious subject matters.
Even with that realization, it did not stop the singer from saying more sassy and outlandish things throughout the evening. Before beginning on the track “Shut Up and Kiss Me,” he made sure to let the crowd know what kind of song they were about to receive. “This song is a little sassy…just like the bitch who wrote it,” he told the audience before turning around to begin on the song.
As the band were about to begin on “Pop 101,” Ramsay advised everyone how this was going to be an “educational” track. For those not familiar with the history of the song, it is a satirical step-by-step on how to write a hit pop song. The track was written by Ramsay after he helped co-write one of the most infectious, yet annoying songs of the 21st century: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.”
But while the charisma of the frontman was enough to make you like the band, their vocals further proved what was so great about them. From a person who has seen many bands try to harmonize and fail along the way, Marianas Trench have perfected that. As they sang “Who Do You Love,” you could hear the precision of their vocals becoming one throughout the song. It was so good that it most definitely rivaled the version on the album.
Almost as quickly as Ramsay’s filter returned, it once again left as the group were about to begin on “While We’re Young.” “I need to stop saying outlandish thingy s**** when I need to get serious…s***,” he chuckled.
As the song wrapped up, the band headed backstage for one of the quickest pre-encore changes. It was so fast, that the fans didn’t even notice. Instead of the full band returning to the stage, Ramsay emerged alone to perform “Good to You.” As the song progressed, it eventually gave way to “Haven’t Had Enough” from Ever After. As that song ended and the band were about to begin on the final track of the evening, “End of an Era,” the realization began to hit that the concert was almost over.
“End of an Era” is the closing track on Astoria, so it was only fitting that they opened the show with the opening track, and now closed the show with the record’s closing track. As the song played out, the lights in the venue began to darken to the point that the only visible thing in the club was the band’s name and the word “ASTORIA” below it. With only the band’s name and album’s title lighting the inside of the venue, it gave everyone the sad confirmation that the Ft. Lauderdale stop of the “Hey You Guys Tour” had just come to a close.