Canadian band The KiLLeR DWaRfS released their fifth album, Method to the Madness in 1992 amidst an upheaval of changes in the musical landscape of the day. They recorded the follow up, but in another victim of the impending grunge era, they decided to shelve the record, disband and move on to other things. Fast forward to today and the DWaRfS have re-mastered and released the Start @ One album. The resulting tour after this extended hiatus saw the DWaRfS plough through the US and Canada, stopping in Toronto to usher in the grand opening of Toronto’s newest rock club, The Rockpile East in early October.
Back for this reunion tour are founders Russ “DWaRf” Graham and Darrell “DWaRf” Millar as well as Gerry “DWaRf” Finn who took over duties from original guitarist Michael “DWaRf” Hall in 1991. Although credited on the Start @ One album, bassist Ronald “Bad Ronbo DWaRf” Mayer opted out of the reformation of the iconic Canadian band leaving space for John Fenton, bass player of Darrell’s post KiLLeR DWaRf project Automan.ca to step in. “Johnny DWaRf” fit right into the mayhem and menagerie that is the essence of the DWaRfS. You may remember their tongue-in-cheek humour from the hit MTV music videos such as “Keep the Spirit Alive” and “We Stand Alone”.
The up and coming Toronto outfit Diemonds set the stage for the completely sold out show on this first night of operations. Their brand of booze soaked sleaze rock would have taken the world by storm had these twenty something’s been around in 1985, but they’re proudly waving the banner in today’s marketplace. They ripped through a selection of songs including “Take on the Night”, “Get the F*#k Outta Here” and “Trick or Treat” from their Bad Pack CD along with a collection of newer compositions. Check them out if you can…..a Canadian band on the rise. www.diemonds.net
The DWaRfS stormed the stage at a rather late hour and proceeded to tear it up DWaRf style, thrilling the audience with a presentation of sound and visual that was guaranteed to enthral. The show included over the top antics from diminutive front man Russ with a total disregard for his safety or body in a display that included running wildly in circles around the stage, falling randomly to the floor like someone had cut his puppet strings and cart wheeling back to his feet, headstands, crowd surfing a lot and swinging from rafters (from which he lost his grip, falling and being caught by the crowd preventing any serious harm to the crazy DWaRf singer).
The set list was only 12 songs in length, but I’m not sure that Russ could have endured any more punishment and even at that they cut off the final encore song of “Heavy Mental Breakdown” as he signalled to side stage that he was done. Representation from all the KiLLeR DWaRf albums was present, but “Heavy Mental Breakdown” was the lone delegate from their self titled debut, something revered in my collection of music, but Toronto never got to hear it that night. Oh well, the rest of the performance was mind blowing, even with the shortness of the set and who knows, maybe we’ll get “Heavy Mental Breakdown” when they return on February 1 st, 2014. www.russdwarf.com
Review & photos by Rich Dillon