“Leather jacket,” leather pants and Diana Ross: Arkells & Dear Rouge play Cactus Jacks

Amidst flashing lights and the haze of a smoke machine, Arkells and Dear Rouge reassured the crowd at Cactus Jacks that they made the right choice to “turn up” on a Monday.

The electric, attention-commanding sound of music industry veterans and opening band, Dear Rouge, kicked off the show with a bang. The Vancouver-based husband and wife duo are the epitome of a power couple. Drew and Danielle McTaggart got bodies to the dance floor in no time with their intoxicating brand of synth blended with rock.

Fans at Cactus Jacks could not have asked for a more powerful and talented frontwoman than Danielle. Her vocal range, reminiscent of Metric, and stage presence was nothing short of incredible. Dear Rouge blew away the crowd and set the bar high for Arkells.

Danielle McTaggart of Dear Rouge stole the attention of everyone in Cactus Jacks from their first song. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

Danielle McTaggart of Dear Rouge stole the attention of everyone in Cactus Jacks from their first song. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

Keep a close eye and ear on this band, because they are gaining steam. Looking ahead, you will hear much more from them.

Arkells, the alternative rockers hailing from Hamilton, Ont. have grown immensely and amassed a dedicated following since their formation in 2006.

For the most part, the band has held a steady lineup since 2006, with Max Kerman (vocals/guitar), Mike DeAngelis (vocals/guitar), Nick Dika (bass), Tim Oxford (drums/percussion) and the most recent addition, Anthony Carone (vocals/keys/guitar) who joined in 2011.

Arkells have played in Kamloops several times over the last few years and the audience showed their appreciation. From singing along to each song, jumping to the beat and practically blowing the roof off for the encore, Kamloopsians love Arkells’ unique brand of upbeat, fast-paced alternative rock.

This was avid fan Quinn Foreman’s fourth Arkells show and they didn’t disappoint.

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Arkells frontman Max Kerman brought energy and emotion to their set which consisted of mainly new material. (Kim Anderson/The Omega)

“They absolutely killed it, as they always do. Max has the perfect stage presence between crowd interaction, sticking to original music and improvising to give it that live personality,” Foreman said.

Foreman regularly commutes from his home in Salmon Arm, to Kamloops, Vernon and sometimes Vancouver for live shows.

“I’d rather drive a while to go see them and experience them live, than to look back in a couple years and regret not going,” Foreman said.

Live music will always differ from studio recordings and this group is no exception. That is not a shot at the group – the shift is attractive and desirable. When performing live, Kerman injects an unreal amount of feeling and emotion into the lyrics.

Between dancing in any free space on the stage, holding the mic out for fans and strutting across the front of the pit, the band knows how to get their fans invested from the first song.

Foreman knew how high-energy Arkells shows can be and came prepared for the performance, in what he called his “party shirt” and homemade jorts (jean shorts).

Anthony Carone of the Arkells thrashed around and played a mean keyboard for their show. (Kim Anderson/ The Omega)

Anthony Carone of the Arkells thrashed around and played a mean keyboard for their show. (Kim Anderson/ The Omega)

Kerman has an impressive stage presence and was constantly interacting with the crowd. He improvised in between songs, told snappy anecdotes and kept the club in a joyous and rowdy mood for their hour and a half long set.

To be fair, it was obvious that Kerman’s declaration of the band’s choice to play in Kamloops over Kelowna would be met with raucous applause. But he did get the reaction he was looking for, so it was a clever strategy, nonetheless.

With their catchy beats and infectious lyrics, Arkells plays music that stirs up feelings of nostalgia, romantic love and the optimism of youth. I’d be willing to bet there were some fuzzy heads that trekked into work on Tuesday morning, but not one of them with an ounce of regret.