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Zeus Use Democratic Effort to Wow Late Mercury Lounge Crowd

October 20th, 2014

Zeus – Mercury Lounge – October 17, 2014

(Photo: Sean O’Kane)

(Photo: Sean O’Kane)

Sometimes we speak of a rock band being democratic, meaning that everyone in the band has a voice. But there are always degrees to this, and usually there’s a frontman rock god pulling the levers. Watching the Toronto quintet (recently grown from a foursome) Zeus bound across the stage late on Saturday night at Mercury Lounge felt like observing a true musical democracy at work (ironically despite the deity band name). Who is the lead guitarist in Zeus? Who is the lead singer? All of them and none of them. Must be a Canadian thing—their universal health care is much more universal than ours too.

Promoting their new album, Classic Zeus, and mixing in plenty of older, classic Zeus, they declared their love for New York City: “You always know how to treat a band!” The feeling was mutual. A core of die-hard fans tried their darndest to keep up with the kinetic energy onstage. There was constant motion as Zeus rocked new tunes like “Miss My Friends” with its breezy ’60s pop sound and older favorites like “Heavy on Me,” off their debut release, Say Us. This motion included gyrating and head-banging from all, particularly (mostly) bassist Carlin Nicholson, as well as song-to-song instrument switching so that everyone got their hands on the guitars, bass and electric piano without a lapse in the set’s continuously improving energy.

Zeus were even democratic in their rock clichés, mastering the good ones (share-a- microphone harmonies, two-guitar dueling solos, timely cowbell) and avoiding the bad ones. Mostly their set was superlative rock songs played by a bunch of guys having a whole lot of fun. As they out-classic-rocked classic rock with their raging “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” everyone in the crowd was in thrall, having whole lot of fun, themselves. There is something irresistible about watching a band wear their emotions on their sleeves. In Zeus’ case the overall emotion was “hell yeah,” which seemed to be the democratic consensus of all in attendance. —A. Stein