Rusty – [Live]

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

At fifteen years old, I went to my first legitimate rock concert. It was at AJ’s Hanger in Kingston, Ontario and the bands were Rusty and Hhead. During the finale, headliner Rusty’s lead singer Ken MacNeil took a stage dive and landed on top of me. So I stole his shoe. In my fifteen year old mind, I figured that if this band was playing the biggest club in my town and had music videos, they must be millionaires. I didn’t think twice about stealing what was the shoe of a most likely broke indie musician who didn’t have money to purchase another pair. 

Seventeen years later Rusty, now reunited, walked on the Yonge-Dundas Square stage for the NXNE music festival. Looking older and a bit more fatherly than the once grungy alternative band they were, Rusty plugged in as the sun set behind the billboard-dominated skyline. The audience was hooked immediately with first song “Groovy Dead,” the hit single from their debut record Fluke. Rusty continued on with all hits and fan favorites, including “Soul for Sale,” “Punk” and “Wake Me,” during which lean man Ken MacNeil commented “wow, wouldn’t want to have to do that everyday.” MacNeil seemed slightly nervous and unprepared and one got the impression that whether or not the band even rehearsed as a whole before walking on stage was questionable, given that they live separately across the province.

Regardless, they pulled off an entertaining set and everyone on stage gave their all; braving their first time together as a band in eleven years. Ending the set with the obvious closer “Misogyny” MacNeil commented once again, “this isn’t something dads should be doing” and earned chuckles from the dads in the audience who were once single teenage pot smokers listening to Rusty albums in their parents basements. And after seventeen years, I gave Ken his shoe back, to which he replied, “What did I do that night – walk around with one shoe?” proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that he had a fun Nineties alt-rock career. 


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