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Basement Arms - Gargling For Your Pleasure

04-May-2006 03:37 AM Contributed by: pete Concert Reviews
Basement Arms
April 30, 2006
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
Wavelength @ Sneaky Dee's
Review by: Pete Nema, Photos by: Rod Pizarro
Enema Rating: (6/10)

When a band lists The Muppet Show as one of their musical influences, it sparks my interest. So when Dwight Schenk (vocals) of Basement Arms asked me to come watch them play at Sneaky Dee's on Sunday night, I decided to show up and see what they were all about. So, what are they all about? Aside from being seasoned musicians, what I learned is that Basement Arms has a tendency toward hard rock, pirates, children's toys, beards, sideburns, and jamming. This band has the collective ability to jam like a harsher version of The Allman Brothers, sing like an insane Tom Waits, and write lyrics like Ween. Let me explain...

Basement Arms is normally a four piece band consisting of Dwight Schenk (vocals, guitar), Jay Haddow (bass), Chris Eakins (keyboards, percussion), and Brian Lahaie (drums), but for this five song set they were also joined by Jay Baird (sax), and James Mckie (fiddle). The songs were all whiskey-inspired hard rock complete with solos, and the addition of the fiddle and the occasional bongo drum meant there was always a few layers of music going on. Schenk is a tall, lean man with a big, bushy man-beard, so although it takes a couple of songs to get used to his vocal-style, when he's onstage jumping around, digging into his guitar, and attacking the microphone with his deep, almost pirate-like sound he provides great entertainment.

The highlight of the set was an extended version of their song The Muppets Revenge. It was an all-out heavy jam session that including Schenk singing through a Fisher-Price toy voice box. Up until this point, the crowd was backed up from the stage forming a semi-circle, but after this song they moved in much tighter for the finale. The last song was a slow number that reminded me of Tom Waits, the biggest difference being that Schenk decided to do a vocal solo by gargling water, which was well received by the crowd.

Basement Arms may not be the best looking band you'll ever see and I'm not exactly sure where this band is going, but they are capable of putting together interesting rock music with Schenk providing good live entertainment value. If this is your type of music, they're definitely worth an hour or more of your time, especially if accompanied by a few cans of beer. Visit Basement Arms on MySpace to download a few of their songs (including The Muppets Revenge) and for information on upcoming shows.

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