VIDEO: Born Ruffians at Great Scott

The first time that I ever heard/saw Canadian band Born Ruffians was in an episode of the very excellent U.K. cult TV series Skins. The low-fi indie rockers made a very brief cameo in which they played to a riled-up crowd at an underground scenester party in someone's packed-out New York apartment. Their Sunday night show at Great Scott was not all that much different.

Most of the floor space was filled long before the four young Ruffians took the stage at the sold out 18+ show. Scruffy guys and their boho-chic dates milled about the muggy space, clutching sweating tall boys of PBR as they waited out the night's openers, retro-sounding Young Rival, who finally climbed onstage a little after ten. During Young Rival's' set, Born Ruffians' drummer Steven Hamelin made frequent trips to the bar, leaning back with a perspiring beer (or three) of his own to watch the opener rev up the crowd.

The Born Ruffians are a relatively under-the-radar band. However, their fan base is nothing if not devout, if the turn-out at Great Scott was any evidence. The crowd amiably waited as the Ruffians leisurely tuned their instruments, their newest member sealing his sound check approval by planting a kiss on his mic, before all four were bar-bound again for another pre-show drink. The time was creeping its way past eleven (hey! didn't you guys hear about our incredibly inconvenient T service?) before the Born Ruffians launched into their first song of the night, but not a bearded soul in the crowd was complaining.

A contingent of amped up fans at front stage center shouted along with willowy lead singer Luke Lalonde, his angular frame clad in a voluminous tank, airborne fists punctuating every verse. The Born Ruffians, as a unit, have an interesting, and charming, stage presence. Gregarious, almost hyperactive, bassist Mitch Derosier assumes the role of front man, while Lalonde remains a background player at his own party, ceding the spotlight to Derosier and the almost-as-chatty Hamelin. The two engaged the crowd between songs, carrying on a running stream of conversation with each other and their fans as Lalonde shuffled around behind them, fiddling with his guitar, head down, his own, tentative, brand of charisma revealing itself only when he howled into the mic. At which point, the stage was entirely his. His, and a few very well-versed fans, that is. A large portion grinning kids hollered along as gustily to "Higher & Higher," a track off their recently dropped album Say It, as to hits like 2008's "Hummingbird" (of Skins' fame.) It was only when a couple of well-meaning fans started to regale the band with a tribute ["Oh Canada", what else?] that Derosier attempted to squelch their accompanists. And who could really blame him.

At one point, soaked in sweat from frantically hop-stepping around the tiny stage, Derosier peeled off his red flannel and tossed it aside, revealing an equally sweaty black tank top beneath. Just on the wrong side of stocky, Derosier wasn't trying to drop any panties here. Still, the crowd whooped and whistled. "You guys will cheer for anything!" Hamelin joked, as Derosier obligingly shook what his mama gave him. "We've got you in the palm of our hands." And so, it seemed, they did.

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