Worth the wait

On Thursday night, hours before the show even started, a long line formed outside of Wilf’s – with good reason, because later that night Arkells, a talented group of young musicians, would take centre stage.

Though Arkells have only been playing together for a couple of years, this is their third time at Laurier.

“Waterloo has become like our second home,” lead vocalist and guitarist Max Kerman told The Cord before the band took stage, also referring to their final tour date of 2009 at Starlight in December.

The band met in Hamilton at McMaster University, and Kerman said that the relationship the band members have developed through touring is key.

“Chemistry is really important,” he said, “and you build chemistry by playing together a lot.”

Throughout his interview with The Cord, Kerman was gracious, expressing appreciation for his band’s success so far and for everything in his life, including his friends and family.

He also explained how important learning is to him and the rest of the band.

“We’re students of rock ‘n’ roll, so we’re always trying to learn why we like a certain sound,” he said, explaining that Arkells make a point to learn from other musicians.

“If there is one thing we’ve learned from great Canadian bands [such as The Stills, Sam Roberts, the Tragically Hip and Joel Plaskett], it’s to treat everybody well.

“All that stuff goes a long way, especially since we know what it’s like to be a band playing for only $50 a night. That was us literally a year and a half ago,” he continued.

Despite their recent success, for reasons aforementioned Arkells try to maintain the “spirit of the underdog.”

“We always get excited to play shows. The novelty hasn’t worn off yet, and I don’t think it’s going to,” said Kerman.

Before the band took the stage, Kerman commented on his pre-show rituals.

“We do a ‘hands-in’ and a different cheer before every show,” he said, adding that “[the cheer] depends on what the theme of the night is.”

Though he didn’t know at the time what the theme would be (it turned out to be “easy-rider”), he mentioned a time when they played in St. Catherine’s and their guitarist, Mike DeAngelis, got food poisoning from the chicken shwarma place they ate at previous to the show.

“We did ‘shwarma on three’,” laughed Kerman. “It seemed appropriate.”

Kerman also described their music as “kind of like a big campfire sing along.”

However, at Wilf’s that night, it was anything but a campfire. Wilf’s resembled more of a zoo with patrons ranging from the confused to the ecstatic.

Arkells were extremely well received by the audience that was singing, dancing and snapping along to their songs.

Throughout their set, the band did a number of covers including “Ain’t too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations and “Ms. Jackson” by Outkast, as well as their own hits, including “Oh, the Boss is Coming!” and “Ballad of Hugo Chavez”.