On an absurdly chilly Monday in April, a day that you would not expect people to be out and about at a bar, the Horseshoe Tavern on Queen St. W was bustling. The night was going to consist of three very contrasting bands. A country band, a heavier rock band, and an upbeat pop rock group. Upon arriving the first act was already on stage, the country act supporting lead vocalist/songwriter, Stacey Hunt. She oozed a country pop essence akin to artists like Faith Hill and Jewel. The songs had a bubbly relatability and her band was talented and supported her fully. Her voice did not waver or crack once, and her vocal control was undeniable. The music was pure country pop and overall incredibly enjoyable as a live performance. The venue seemed filled with her fans and supporters. The excitement was palpable, and they have great promise as a country band. The second act that went on was called Defcon Brown, they were a three piece band with music similar to bands like Nickelback and other early 2000s rock bands of the like. The subject matter was moody and dark. The crowd of country fans diminished significantly during their set, but despite this they played fully and contently.
The next and main act to go on was Mermaids Exist. The lack of audience seemed worrisome for them, but a crowd of fans and friends trickled into the back room of the Horseshoe Tavern during their setup. This band is entirely whimsical. That might be what they are going for considering the fantastical name “Mermaids Exist.” The immense talent of every musician in the band, mixed with the upbeat, contemporary, romantic lyricism makes for a beautiful soundtrack that you’d want the movie version your life to have. A lot of this is fueled by the vocals, done by brothers Geoff and Jason Hopkins. Jason’s voice and charming boyish nature is complimentary to Geoff ,whose tone was velvety and pervasive. Not to mention his keyboard playing is incredibly sophisticated and plays such a crucial role to the tunes. It is imperative to mention the skill and the edge that the lead guitarist Cam brown brings to the band. He plays a Fender telecaster, and sprinkles blues riffs and solos throughout the songs. He has classic rock and blues sensibilities which adds an undeniable richness to the music. The combination awakens the angsty, longing teenager in you with the mature edge you want to have, but lack at that age. The ethereal nature of the songs are like a breath of fresh air and solid earworms. 16 Cigarettes was stuck in my head for nearly three days after the show, which was definitely not a complaint.
The band seemed to draw a somewhat miraculous crowd that night. The audience was fully enthralled, dancing, cheering, buying merch, and they were all around excitable. The band was entirely thankful that so many came out on a late Monday night and created such a stir in the venue. Mermaids Exist created an atmosphere in which you could not help but have a good time. That is a difficult task, yet they made it effortless in their style and confidence as a band. All five members (Geoff & Jason Hopkins, Cam Brown, Rob Bernasch, and Jamie Wilson) emanate an infectious passion and liveliness. This is a band definitely worth spending an evening to go see. Mermaids Exist will ignite your inner enthusiastic self. When googling them make sure to look for the band, and not the conspiracy documentaries about aquatic evolution, as enticing as they may be.
Follow Mermaids Exist on social media and look out for their next show. Hopefully they play the Horseshoe again soon.