It’s one of the things Arkells lead singer Max Kerman and his bandmates like most about touring their rock ‘n’ roll band around the country – for themselves and others.
Often that entails providing a little value added on top of their main concert.
Take their Canada 150 stop in Victoria, for example. Before taking the main stage in front of the B.C. legislature on July 1, 2017, the multiple Juno Award winners played a rousing mostly acoustic set in the intersection of Belleville and Government streets. Not everyone knew about the teaser performance, which made it all the more thrilling for those who just stumbled onto the scene.
“We’re really excited to come back to the Island,” Kerman says. “That Canada Day, it felt like the rest of the country was getting rained on and we had this beautiful, serene day in Victoria.”
This time around, in conjunction with their Feb. 3 concert at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, part of a gruelling two-month North American tour, the band is hoping to give a little extra again.
“One thing we didn’t realize when our tour schedule was made was that the show in Victoria is on Super Bowl Sunday,” Kerman says, almost apologetically. So, to give the football junkies amongst their legion of fans something special – and to chalk up another Arkells memory – they are looking at doing a pop-up performance in town earlier in the day.
“We have a lot of good memories in a lot of these places,” Kerman says, recalling a fun show at Lucky Bar in Arkells’ early days. “Each time we come back to a city, the shows get a little bigger, a litter better and little more spirited.”
The Hamilton-based band returns, to a degree, still riding the wave that crested early in 2017 with their smash hit single “Knockin at The Door” (Morning Report, 2016). That instant anthem was appropriated by multiple pro sports leagues, from the NFL during that year’s Super Bowl, to MLB in the World Series and golf’s U.S. Open.
Fans are sure to hear that song, but also many from 2018’s Rally Cry, which, while more piano-driven than past Arkells albums, still features such sure-fire stadium rockers as “11:11,” “People’s Champ” and “Hand Me Downs.”
While “Knockin at the Door,” which talks about reaching for more no matter what the challenges, seemed a perfect match for championship games, there’s a certain competitiveness within the band itself, too. As a unit they’re always trying to beat the last show they played in a city, and give fans a little more, Kerman says.
“That’s really the only metric we measure ourselves to … we look at it more in terms of, ‘are we getting better as musicians, do more people know the songs?’ I do think, though, the band is good because we really care and want to to outdo the last thing that we did. You look at the leaders in any industry and they have that eagerness to please, that eagerness to be great.”
He cites as an inspiration on that front The Boss himself. “I read an article about Bruce Springsteen that said he still sound checks for three hours.”
You can decide for yourself how much better Arkells are than their Canada Day performance. Tickets, if still available, can be purchased online at selectyourtickets.com, by calling 250-220-7777 or in person at the arena box office.