Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols do not play the kind of catchy tunes they play because that type of music is what potential audiences might want to hear. They interpret what they themselves like best and enjoy playing most in emulating an eclectic library of classic rock influences that form a fascinating and immensely appealing collage of sound.
That said, if you go to one of their shows it is not as though they will perform like you are not there. After a relatively short time on the local scene this Toronto based foursome is much beloved when playing live for very good reason.
Their energetic sets are quite reflective of the sound that they have cultivated from their material in the recording studio but they leave themselves open for improvisation when the moment and the audience moves them to it. The focus on performance rather than a crass and cynical "units sold" approach to marketing is refreshing. Their general attitude towards music alone justifies the following they are developing.
There is a natural give and take between audience and band that is not completely lost on her and her Dead Idols, as tends to be on a vast sea of countless others. This give and take and attention to it should go without saying but sadly it does not. The worst of those musical acts which do not honor it are the ones that just stand on stage and play leaving a personality-minus vocalist to spout "everybody sing it with me" cliches.
Often in such cases the singer/frontman or frontwoman is assessed more than their fair share of the blame by bandmates when the crowd present is given to fits of yawning. Some of them have had the nerve to blame the audience and there are far more bands in Toronto like that than you might think there would be. Could that be why seeing bands who actually love giving public performances is so much more enjoyable than seeing those that don’t?
I had an occasion to see Frankie Whyte and the Dead Idols perform at Lee’s Palace on January 5th. At that show I saw a scintillating set and during its showstopper Ms Whyte hopped up and stood on top of the bass drum. Balanced on her tiptoes she flawlessly played her solo. The jaws of those in attendance hit the floor not just at what she did but that she would do it at all and then at the fact that she and her band did not miss a beat.
"it’s about big rock shows, throwing a party with however many of your closest friends. We want to expend the kind of momentum and energy in our live show that we see coming from the bands that we go to bat for. the music we grew up listening to, rock n’ roll, it was never about standing on your mark or executing the "perfect performance"; it’s about throwing everything you got in people’s faces. And if you earn it, the crowd will throw it right back in yours." Says Frankie winsomely.
A sense of the familiar found within their songs better suggests their hard work rather than a lack of originality. While there is a certain consistency in their choice of chords, stylistic variation is not any casualty to it. Ms Whyte and her colleagues are noticeably careful in recognising that what may appear to be consistency at first can evolve into cliché. They strike a compelling balance and musicians amongst audience members will know well what I mean when they hear this band play.
They have laboured intensively to augment rhythm that has come naturally to them. You can bet that adding on to their collective muse was not nearly as easy as they make it sound in live performance.
For more information, check out: www.myspace.com/frankiewhyteandthedeadidols