The 40 Year Cold Road Ride of Rheostatics

When lead singer, Dave Bidini made mention that Rheostatics were 40 years old at the Dec. 6 show at the Danforth Music Hall, it seemed like an impossible age for the band to reach, hell, for any band to reach. Yet, their history states that their first proper gig was at the long-shuttered Toronto punk/new wave venue, The Edge back in February 1980 when they were barely teenagers. The quartet, solidified by the lineup of Bidini, Martin Tielli, Tim Vesely and Dave Clark.

Seven years later, the band would release their first album, cheekily titled Greatest Hits. With consecutive albums such as Melville, Whale Music and Introducing Happiness, Rheostatics became Canada’s number one ‘whatever’ band. Impossible to tie to a single genre, their music has been corralled ambiguously as art-rock with dalliances into Can-rock, stirred with some 70s punk and pop of some sort. For the band’s faithful, genres have no use, it’s only ever about the songs. Through a charting song with Claire and tours with the Tragically Hip in the 90s, the band’s popularity continued to rise. Don Kerr took over the drum throne from Clark. The early 2000s brought us just two Rheostatics studio albums and also their breakup. The band played their farewell concert on March 30, 2007. After a series of scattered not-quite-reunion shows with different lineups throughout the next decade, in 2016, a reformed Rheostatics debuted a number of new songs with a lineup that brought back Clark and added violinist Hugh Marsh and keyboardist Kevin Hearn.

It was this lineup that performed and recorded the band’s first studio album in 14 years. Here Come The Wolves was released on September 6. The band played their first proper set of supporting shows throughout Southern Ontario, ending with a raucous night at the Danforth Music Hall. The setlist featured the new album but dipped back to classics like opener Stolen Car, Claire, California Dreamline, Queer (which gave the virtuosic Hugh Marsh a long solo), Dope Fiends and Boozehounds and Record Body Count. If the audience appreciation alone could dictate the future for Rheostatics, we would expect more shows from the band with regularity.

Aron Harris
Aron Harris is ADDICTED Magazine's music editor as well as a contributor. As a graphic designer, writer and photographer, you can find his work all over ADDICTED. He also geeks out over watches, pizza, bass guitars and the Grateful Dead.