Winnipeg Free Press, Friday May 23,
Frank Soda wears hats well
Imagine Wild & Crazy Guys Steve Martin and Dan
Ackroyd as the zany Czechs doing a parody of heavy metal rock
These Saturday Night cut-ups would probably shave their heads,
perform in long john pants, sneakers, gym shorts and tee shirts.
One of them might dramatize several songs by wearing a devil-horned
hat; an exploding TV set; a flashing Instamatic on his head; or a blinking
Their stage movements would fall somewhere between a
frantic puppet jerkiness and the menacing grace of somehow slim Sumo
If your imagination can handle this composite, complete the
picture with a third member, and you have a hint of what Frank Soda & The
Imps look like on stage.
The only missing ingredient would be a
respectable shot of musical expertise. Frank Soda (lead guitar and lead vocals);
Charles Towers (bass and vocals); and John Lechesseur (drums) make a lot of
noise for three guys, and some of it, happens to be pretty good.
& Co. have a dedicated cult following in Toronto. Last year they released a
debut album titled In The Tube, recorded live at the Picadilly Tube. On the
strength of this initial thrust, the theeesome did a pub tour of the
They played a bar in Winnipeg along the way, and the people at
CITI-FM were impressed enough by The Imps' innovative stage show to arrange a
This year the group released its second album, titled
Frank Soda & The Imps. The recording quality surpasses the low-budget
production of their first LP. When CITI got wind of another Imps tour, the
station jumped in again.
Last night the station presented the act at The
Festival Cinema and 500 people piled into the little theatre. If the Festival
has air conditioning, the system was not working, and it seemed as if the murky
hall had become a final resting place for every atom of volcanic ash that has
recently been dumped on this city.
The audience also had to endure an
embarrasing opening performance from Manless Stuff. These four talented Winnipeg
musicians seemed determined to mimick somebody's movie-born concept of British
panache and world-weariness.
The attempt to graft postpunk trendiness to
local stock came off as a studied boredom, and the group only managed to impart
a kind of rough-hewn and naive Canadian arrogance, which obscured the fact that
they played well enough.
Soda and his two henchmen, in contrast, fairly
oozed an easy confidence and stage authority that will probably place them in
bigger halls in the foreseeable future.
Last night the Imps played all
original music: Many songs belied their crazy capers and appearance, and
probably rank as good heavy metal. Some of their tunes have what used to be
called redeeming social value. For example, Toxic Takeover uses the Missisaugua
disaster to portray the crisis, while High Times delivers an optimistic look at
the way the world turns.
Other tunes, like, Crazy Girls and Undersexed
and Underfed, dramatize the seamy stereotypes of rock musicians. To underscore
the message in these tunes, Soda resorted to some slapstick grabs at his
The Imps even portrayed credible romanticism in the evening's
single softer song; titled Beginnings.
The bulk of the concert, however,
was comprised of sledgehammer rock laced with cosmetic comedy. During TV People,
Soda wore a TV on his head, rigged for a fake explosion at the end of the song.
In Take My Picture Please, he wore a flashbulb popping Instamatic.
Beatles had mop tops; Alice had his snake; Kiss used makeup; and the punkers
wore safety pins; but Frank Soda has his technological hats. Whoever said
Canadians have no imagination?