Steampunkers pull all the punches

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Showmanship and spectacle is an art seemingly lost on many new bands, but one Alberta trio is bringing it back to stages across Western Canada.

Blending the swinging sounds of the Stray Cats, the outlaw grit of Hank III and big top bravado of Gogol Bordello, Punch Drunk Cabaret (PDC) brings the noise in a big way.

The group will bring its sideshow to Lake Louise, playing the Explorers Lounge on Saturday (Aug. 12).

“The whole show is very high energy – and it’s very much a show,” said Bandmeister Randy Bailer, ringleader of this three ring circus of sound.

“In many ways we were getting quite bored with a lot of the live music that we were going out to see and we wanted to take things back to those decades when bands were a lot more visual than they’ve become.”

Bailer said even if you’re not familiar with PDC, the steampunk attire, and custom made amps and mics mean there’s no mistaking them for your average bar band. In fact, Bailer said they’re more at home on a large festival stage – but that doesn’t mean club gig-goers are getting short shrift.

“Quite often we get very good responses in clubs because our approach to the stage is more like a stadium rock kind of show and people aren’t used to seeing that in a bar,” he said.

“We don’t change anything because we’re playing a smaller stage; we still come out guns a-blazin’.”

Fresh off winning Video of the Year at the Edmonton Music Awards for 2016’s “Beard of Bees,” PDC has had its busiest summer in seven years, which is quite a feat considering they’ve got a new bassist on board. Twotone Teddy Roy of The Boom Chucka Boys brings his standup bass acrobatics to the lineup, replacing long-term member, Terry “Sawbones” Grant.

The band played five shows in two days over the Canada Day long weekend in Edmonton, which Bailer jokes was Roy’s “initiation.”

With the goal in mind being to win over new fans, PDC refuses to fit into one box or appeal to just one audience.

“We change up the styles in a way that people haven’t heard before either. We’ll take pop songs from the ‘80s and turn them into guitar driven swing songs,” said Bailer.

Their cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” is a prime example of PDC’s bold, twisted musical imagination.

“We approach our music like an aggressive rock band, but the music we’re playing, it comes from rockabilly, and swing and roots. We’ll literally get seniors out who are just thrilled that a modern band is playing swing music again. But we’ll get young people who are drawn to our energy on stage,” he said.

“The idea from the beginning was we wanted every time we played to be an event, not just three guys standing up there.”

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Rocky Mountain Outlook