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Born Ruffians Keep Them Spinning

October 4th, 2010

Born Ruffians – The Bowery Ballroom – October 2, 2010

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Luke LaLonde, lead singer of Born Ruffians, was more than two hours early as he shuffled to the stage in the middle of fellow Canadians and tour partners First Rate People’s opening set. Singing the verses on the twisty summer jam “Gentleman’s Club,” he projected a laissez-faire attitude in a white-boy fade haircut, big-rimmed glasses and a T-shirt. First Rate People closed with the darting and soaring “Girls’ Night,” one of the best songs of 2010, while LaLonde returned backstage and waited to do his thing.

It’s worth noting that Born Ruffians inspire something bizarre in their fans. On Saturday night, a crowd representing the widest swath of downtown kids descended on The Bowery Ballroom with at least one young woman wearing a homemade shirt that read FOXES MATE FOR LIFE in screaming capital letters, a reference to a cut off the band’s debut record, Red, Yellow & Blue. Born Ruffians refused to disappoint, eventually playing this one fan’s textile wish with Lalonde, now in a wifebeater, embracing the bass-heavy song and his screaming throng.

Relying largely on material from their new LP, Say It, the angular, colliding pop set the audience on edge, meeting the quite intentionally sharp shabbiness of Born Ruffians with boundless energy and the deconstructionist impulse summed up in “Retard Canard”: “I don’t want to start a flame in your heart,” confessed LaLonde. “I just want to set the world on fire.” It proved true in the song’s final third, with spinning kids with burning hearts in the audience and yelping from the stage. —Geoff Nelson