Born Ruffians Rock “Red, Yellow & Blue” In The O.C. THOUGHTS+PHOTOS: BORN RUFFIANS @ CONSTELLATION ROOM 5/12/18
SANTA ANA, CA- It’s been 10 years since the release of Red, Yellow & Blue, the debut record from the Canadian indie rock band, Born Ruffians. A lot can happen in 10 years and there wasn’t an exception for this band. Their lineup changes and shifts in attitudes on subsequent records left me feeling as if I was stumbling through their discography through the years after their amazing debut. Even song titles were getting darker such as “Fuck Feelings” and “When Things Get Pointless I Roll Away”.
But it seems we’ve managed to come full circle on Born Ruffians fifth studio album. While the group’s core members had downsized into a trio, that one of the band’s founding members, Steve Hameline, is back on drums. Perhaps this reunion is what made Uncle, Duke & The Chief sound like a return to the mischievous, quirky nature they originally started with. And even though the album deals with deeper, universal topics such as death, aging and uncertainty in self identity, it’s encompassed them an endearing, optimistic light that made their music stand out to me in the first place during my adolescence. Take the opening track “Forget Me” for example. It’s a song that was originally set off by the passing of David Bowie but became more personal with the cancer diagnosis of Luke Lalonde’s father (which is now in remission). “Wait for me, ohh/’Cause I’ll be right behind you/ Wait and see, ohh/You know that I’ll find you”.
Touring in support of this latest release, the band swung by The Constellation Room in Santa Ana. The sold out venue exploded as the band hit the stage and went right into “Tricky”, one of the tracks off the new record. It was a perfect introduction. The song has this simple, yet infectious drum pattern that stomps along with front man’s Luke Lalonde’s guitar and vocals that drives a crowd to immediately start bouncing. Even the lyrics were fitting to the sound of the album and overall vibe of the night:
“I’m so sick of that overrated/stuff that you think is sophisticated…you’re so tricky and complicated/ you tell me that I gotta get old and jaded”
I didn’t know it at the time but that introduction really set the tone for the evening. Yes, they played every song off their new album, and yes that usually doesn’t resonate well when most people are connected to the debut record, but in this case, it made perfect sense. Sandwiched in between the new tracks were some of the best songs from their discography but the ones that really set things off were the classics.
Songs like “Kurt Vonnegut”, and “Humming Bird” threw the audience into a frenzy. After “I Need A Life” (another song off Red Yellow & Blue) I even heard a British accent behind me say “that was fucking mental”. “You’re just shouting colors at us now” joked Luke after a fan had shouted out his request for the first song off their debut LP. This was something that apparently kept happening at the previous evening’s show in LA and in keeping in the spirit of the evening, the band went into “Red, Yellow & Blue”
Going into this show I was expecting that my old favorites were going to be the highlights of the evening but for the first time, that just wasn’t true. And it seems that the crowd was reacting the same way throughout the set. Singing along to every song and even starting dance friendly pits to songs like “Ring That Bell” and “Fade To Black” (which ended the set).
“We’re going to play a song we haven’t played this entire tour” Luke said as the band returned to the stage for their encore; “Hopefully you remember it” . That song was “This Sentence Will Ruin/Save Your Life”, the opening track to their debut, self tilted EP back in 2006. It was a song that I never expected to hear but there it was happening right in front of me. Afterwards the band introduced the opening band, Little Junior to join them on stage for the evening closer “Working Together” Which is also the last track on Uncle, Duke and The Chief. I get the sense that the inclusion of “This Sentence…” wasn’t planned but it helped close the night out perfectly. Having an encore that has the very first song you ever released followed by the very latest one was almost poetic. This was my first time seeing this band live and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.