words Laura Rojas
photography Aaron Mohr
As part of Canadian Music Week, I went to see CRUISR – a Philadelphia-based indie pop band – on May 6th at The Garrison in Toronto’s vibrant Dundas West neighbourhood. The bar was pretty dark and a bit stuffy and I was tired from having been at my full-time job hours prior. I found an empty bar stool somewhere along the far side of the venue and waited for the four-piece act to appear on stage.
A little background info: CRUISR was founded by Andy States (vocals/guitar) and is also composed of his friends Jonathan Van Dine (drums), Kyle Cook (bass) and Bruno Catrambone (guitar). Their first EP was released in 2012 when, at the time, the band was still a solo project by States and the self-titled EP was simply made up of bedroom recordings. Produced by Jeremy Park, States’ music caught fire and quickly gathered media attention. Since then, CRUISR has been a four-piece concoction with a debut EP (All Over) released via Vagrant Records and a hefty tour schedule under their belt.
A little while later, I saw the four of them emerge from the dark side of the stage and take centre. As a band that associates itself with beachy pop sounds, I found it kind of funny that they all wore the same outfit: a black shirt and black jeans. Something about that felt a little off to me. Based on their music, I was expecting them to dress in something that loosely resembled white-tourist-wear. Hawaiian shirts and bucket hats, maybe.
Once they started playing though, I forgot about that detail. They were bright and sunny and energetic from the start, something that was incredibly refreshing given the stuffiness of the place and the opening acts, which unfortunately hadn't been too far up my alley. The inside of the bar felt more like 3pm on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in Philly than anything else. I stopped thinking about how tired I was, or that I worked again the next morning, or that I forgot to bring money for beer.
Gear-wise, they were simple. My partner pointed out their MRC 100, which they used for sampling and their Telecaster and Mustang guitars. The layout was simple, the music was simple, and everything suddenly felt good.
Early in the set, Andy pushed for the crowd to move up closer to the stage and diminish the gaps between each other. “There’s lots of room here ‘cause the teenagers aren’t allowed in!” he laughed, making reference to the fact it was a 19+ show. I briefly thought about the fact that lots of kids probably didn’t get to see them and that kinda sucked, especially with all the “I wish this show wasn’t 19+ :(“ comments I saw on their social media accounts. Then I went back to dancing.
Somewhere on the Internet I read that States has an obsession with writing pop and “the idea that songs can transcend people.” That phrase kind of stuck with me throughout the night as I noticed the effects CRUISR’s vibrant music had on the rest of the crowd. During their set, everybody seemed genuinely happy.
CRUISR was, unfortunately, the only CMW show I got to see this year, but it sure was a good one. I left the venue feeling light, carefree, and yearning for the middle of June.
Posted on May 25, 2015
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