It’s a tale of two countries for Canadian based The Damn Truth. The four piece outfit from Montreal is making their first musical trek through the United States. The band is made up of Lee-La Baum (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Shemer (lead guitar), PY Letellier (bass guitar) and Dave Traina (drums). Having been founded in 2011, and touring in support of their second full length release, Devilish Folk, they are bringing their hard-edged, blues inspired rock n’ roll to a new audience. While playing to crowds of 400 to 1,000 people in and around Montreal and receiving decent airplay, they are playing much smaller rooms here in the States, as Letellier quips, “We’re shaking hands and kissing babies.”
On Wednesday, March 14, The Damn Truth played a headlining set at the landmark Whisky a Go Go. The Whisky’s iconic status was not lost on the group, regardless of their geographically distant upbringing. Stated Shemer, “I can’t believe we’re going to play on the same stage as Jim Morrison.” The Damn Truth treated the sparse but enthusiastic audience of approximately 100 people to a 12 song set of original material. From the moment Baum opens her mouth, she commands the stage with her powerful and soulful voice. There is a temptation to compare her to Janis Joplin, due to her vocal qualities, charismatic stage persona, and a slight physical resemblance. Comparisons that Baum doesn’t really mind, declaring “It’s all good, Janis is a goddess….. I grew up listening to her….but I grew up listening to a gazillion other strong female singers. A lot of people compare me to whatever is close to their heart.”
Throughout the show, they deliver well-crafted, straight forward rock, with catchy riffs, howling vocals and solid rhythm. With all the talk of the resurgence of good old rock n’ roll, The Damn Truth definitely are staking a claim to that vein. The interplay between Baum and Shemer, (a couple off-stage as well as on) reveals a passion play of musical and sexual tension and energy, adding to the drama of the performance. The honesty of their music validates their name. Something that Shemer claims, “We wanted to do something that was true to ourselves.” Honesty is a quality that is hard to come by sometimes in rock music. With so much being about image over talent, form over function, posers over players, this group is as honest as you might see on a stage.
Calling out high points of the show is difficult when each song seems to just pull you in. Get With You and its palpitating riff and beat are a perfect companion to the lustful lyrics. Broken Blues is a flashback to the late 60’s, with guitar and vocal sparring. I Want You, the first of the two encore numbers, also harkens back to the traditional blues, with an interesting key change in the haunting chorus. Another display of the honesty is the band’s interaction with fans after the show. They take time to speak with everyone who would approach them and spread their message of peace and love. Whether on the stage, or interacting with fans after the show, The Damn Truth is “the real deal”.
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I Want You (he’s a lightweight)
The Money will Roll Right In (Fang)