Matt Mays brings East Coast rock west

Brendan Kergin, Arts & Entertainment Editor Ω

“We got a triple threat of East Coast rock,” Evan Meisner shouted at the beginning of Gloryhound’s set, the first band of the evening.

Truth be told, on Oct. 22 the Blue Grotto was host to one of the biggest gatherings of Maritimers that Kamloops has had in some time. Gloryhound, of Halifax, opened the evening, while Charlottetown’s The Meds played the middle set. Juno nominee rock star and Cole Harbour, N.S. resident Matt Mays wrapped things up.

Gloryhound’s first trip to Kamloops was a raucous success and while they weren’t so country/folksy as the later groups, they played aggressive rock, similar to mainstream fare but with a serious edge.

The Meds followed up quickly. While they lacked some onstage energy, their style involved a lot more participatory action, with sing-a-longs and clapping. A rocky start at first, they warmed up well and the crowd warmed to them.

The real reason most people were there was the headliner. Matt Mays has been a solo artist for 10 years. Before that he was a part of East Coast folk-rock act The Guthries, but he didn’t touch that material. With five studio albums to his name, virtually everything was original, from new work off his 2012 release, Coyote, to his first single, “City of Lakes,” from 2002.

Mays is a man comfortable on stage. While there were six men on stage, he had all the attention but not in an arrogant way. His enjoyment of the stage and songs was evident. Shaggy-haired, face painted with red and white streaks down his cheeks and without socks, he may have been having more fun than anyone else in the Grotto.

His comfort on stage was evident when he took to the mike as well. According to Mays, good jeans can be found in Great Slave Lake, a good show requires plenty of smoke, but not too much. Not only is he comfortable in front of a crowd, he seemed fine being part of it as well, pulling one lucky fan on stage for the last song before the encore and then leaving through the crowd.

Starting off with the lead track off Coyote, “Indio,” the first big song of the night was “Take It On Faith,” Coyote’s first single. While mostly off the new album, he selected a few of his older tracks to fill out the 20-song set. “Terminal Romance,” “On the Hood” and “Tall Trees” all got time in the spot light. By the end, the crowd was chanting for 2005 hit “Cocaine Cowgirl.” They weren’t let down either, with the track taking the place as part of the big, rousing end encore.