Vancouver Band Shocases It's Skills

by Peter Howell
Toronto Star
December 6, 1994

Singer David Usher and the other members of Moist had some fun last night with the Stones' "Miss You" during their tour-opening show at the Warehouse.

And watching them do it, more of a rock song than the disco original, it was clear why this Vancouver quintet has rocketted from obscurity to near double-platinum album sales status this year.

Unlike many new bands, Moist has an identifiable sound, especially Usher's dramatic, keening voice and Mark Makowy's bright guitar playing.

Moist put its own stamp on "Miss You"; it sounded like Moist trying out a Stones song, not Moist trying to be the Stones.

There were no faux Jagger moves from Usher. His gestures are theatrical, conveying much meaning, but he also knows the value of levity, as when he took time to wrap bassist Jeff Pearce in silver tape, as a warped birthday gesture.

Moist has its own strong material, made apparent with the cheer-bringing playing of "Silver", "Push" and other songs from the debut Silver album.

"Into Everything" showcased the keyboard skills of Kevin Young and "Freaky Be Beautiful" lived up to its name, being a beautiful freaky song.

The main impression of Moist's accomplished performance is that it's a band on the verge of an international breakthrough, poised to become the next big Canadian success story.

The Jon Bon Jovi good looks of Usher and Makowy guarantee them front-row teen screamers and future Sassy mag raves, and could also shorten their career, if they push that part of their appeal too far.

Toronto band hHead could have used a little bit of Moist's energy for their own set, which was well received but lacking a crucial spark. No slackers in the musical skills department, pumping out beefy mosh movers in a Pearl Jam and Sugar vein, they were as anonymous as Moist was distinctive.

They lack a hit of "Push" stature, and seem to know it--bassist Brendan Canning joked, "This is our new single. It's called `Longview'," in introducing hHead's wordy new song "Answers".

It was a song reference to pop-punkers Green Day, another band that knows how to reach a young audience, as Moist did last night: give them something to sing along with, and something to watch.