Dear Rouge is an up and coming Canadian alternative electronic duo from Vancouver. Danielle and Drew McTaggart started Dear Rouge in 2012 and have earned top 10 positions in the Canadian Alternative/Rock charts for their singles “Boys & Blondes” at #1 and “Live Through the Night” at #6. They have also won half of their award nominations, including Canada’s largest award the Junos. In 2016 they won “Breakthrough Group of the Year.” So needless to say, they’re making a name here up north!
Opening for Dear Rouge first was Hamilton based band Ellevator. Lead singer Nabi took center stage with her supporting band and slowly began with their single "Voices" from their self titled 2018 EP. Dreamy synths drew you in and the new wave inspired riffs began the song. Every member of the band was in their own element. Fourth track in, they covered Kate Bush’s “Running.” Nabi’s voice was soft but strong and her notes didn't dwindle. Reminiscent of Dido or Jewel. The lead guitarist swung himself back and forth to Nabi, looking at her very longingly, then leaning himself on her until they finish the song. These songs are very emotional for everyone. One of the last songs of their six song set gave me chills! In a good way of course. Nabi was signing albums at the merch table and I met with her. She was very friendly and said they’re promoting new singles for an upcoming new album in the spring of 2019.
Second up was Toronto based rock band Modern Space. Their rock seemed inspired by classic rock of the 70s, with a 00s edge. One song stood out when it started with retro keyboard synths and shimmering cymbals. Another one had a noticeably catchier riff over most of the songs on their set. The lead singer made contact with every member of the band.
9:30pm clocked and Dear Rouge emerged into the dark with dim, teal and red colours. A synth, pulsating, tune started as Danielle McTaggart took to the keys and Drew, her husband, took to lead guitar. They had supporting drums, bass and keys. Once they ended the alluring build up, they erupted in drum/synth beats and really pumped up the crowd. They had fans here as Danielle said she recognized some faces in the crowd. She loved to make special connections to different members of the audience by crouching down to them, patting them on the head or putting her arm around them. She was so excitable; smiling and really feeling into the music they made. After a few hype and colourful songs, she slowed things down with a song called "The Clearing." She explained that she wrote it after a few years in her 20s of feeling like she'll never make it as a musician and feeling like "when is this season going to end." It was a slow song which built up in a release of inspiring emotion. I was even getting a little teary eyed! Then it was back to the hype, positive music. "Dance like no one is watching" Danielle said. And even with a crowd of around 100, they sure did. The music really demanded it. They ended the set with their current single on the charts "Boys & Blondes" where the band added more pump up time, getting the crowd to repeat after her and jump around. The minute they ended their set, an immediate encore was being chanted. After a couple minutes Dear Rouge came back with two hype songs and closed out with a quiet piano ballad.
Dear Rouge is a very fun, positive band to see without being too poppy. The lyrics are very singable and the music is impossible to not jump around to. I feel as though they could be shrugged off as just an indie pop group, but there's more depth and edge there. I would hope to see them support bigger Canadian acts like Metric in the very near future. Also... Danielle's fringe pants? YES.