Queen Licorice: An Accidental Encounter
Sometimes you go out searching for music, and sometimes it just finds you.
There I was spending a quiet night at home when coming through the window was the faint buzz of far-away feedback, the odour of stale beer, and a whole lot of slurred conversation – the unmistakable ingredients of an illicit backyard concert.
A sucker for anything outside a conventional venue, I decided to go survey the situation (in all actuality, sleep was probably out of the question). There, inside of a decrepit old garage, a packed house of twenty-somethings were bopping and screaming as if it was Top of the Pops.
In reality it was Queen Licorice, a band with a pretty low profile in Toronto, but one that on this night seemed like a seasoned arena act. Garbed in aviator sunglasses and skinny jeans, the band fed back the enthusiastic crowd response with plenty of swagger and delivered an all-out rock and roll blast, complete with two – yes, two – encores.
Remembering the impressive showing but almost nothing of the band’s sound, I embark on some day-after Googling. An empty Myspace player, zero reviews, and a few paltry Stillepost mentions later, I wonder if they’re anywhere near as captivating in reality as they are in my intoxicant-impaired memory cells.
Now that the dust has settled a bit, lead singer Julian Hacquebard has sent over an mp3 of a Queen Licorice track called “When the Grass is Sweet As Wine” (streaming below).
I had originally pegged the band somewhere between the Diableros and the Walkmen, but his own description of the track, “a sort of deep surf/psych number with gang vocals at the end, thrown in to ‘oi’ it up a bit,” sounds just as accurate. A simple yet catchy riff keeps the emphasis on rhythm, but the evocative off-tone vocals gives it a bit of a post-punk kick. Not at all like I remember, but effective nonetheless.
For a larger, hopefully more sober sample, check them out at Lee’s Palace tomorrow (Thursday, April 15) with Retro Radio.
- Richard Trapunski