Review: Johnny 2 Fingers & the Deformities at Vangelis (July 3, 2015)

Right now, there’s a guitarist from Moose Jaw who might be the saviour of Saskatchewan guitar rock. And he’s missing a bunch of his fingers.

According to legend, or at least the band’s own bio, John Dale aka Johnny 2 Fingers was born with a “hideous physical mutation.”

But that’s not really apt.

Dale is missing some appendages on his picking hand. He’s also shorter than your average bear. According to a recent article in Vice, the guitarist inherited a condition called proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD).

But, despite the missing digits, Dale completely shreds.

No shit, but don’t dare call them a novelty band.

Johnny 2 Fingers & the Deformities take their cues from southern-fried boogie rock and infuse it with a boozy belt of punk rock for good measure. Throughout their set at Vangelis, the trio kept the energy level – and the volume – high, as Dale and crew ripped through a set that included a cover of AC/DC’s “Jailbreak” along with a slew of staggering, sweaty originals.

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Dale’s voice, raspy and semi-unhinged, propelled the set while a seriously solid rhythm section – which featured a harmonica-playing drummer – pounded the classic rock-inspired tunes straight into the floor.

Unleashing several songs from their recently released album “McMillan’s Monster,” Johnny 2 Fingers & the Deformities’ sophomore release is reportedly a tribute to Dan McMillan, the man who awoke from a slumber but retained the memory from a dream in which he envisioned what would be the prototype of a pick prosthetic for Johnny 2 Fingers.

Strange, yes. But if this Moose Javian rock’n’roll show isn’t on your local music map, you would be wise to place it there right now.

Staring out into the sparse but rabid audience, Dale exuded a swaggering, and almost fevered, air that reverberated throughout his SG six-string sashay. Meanwhile his rhythmic picking – yes, again, he’s missing some fingers – added a driving hirsute headbang that gave the set a much-appreciated sheen of fun.

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Meanwhile, openers Xembryos piledrived their way through some serious street-beast punk rock that seemed to revel in its own spit-addled venom.

Front man Brendo Kolebaba prowled the stage while the rest of the band dug in their collective heels to produce a din that could blister paint.

Not to be outdone by the music, the banter of the evening similarly produced a few highlights, along with a couple of yuks at the expense of technology-imbued douchebags as well.

“Hey cellphone,” yelled the guitarist, “put it away.”

Looking up, I realized I was being singled out.

“I was just Tweeting about how good you were,” I countered.

But point taken. Sometimes you’ve got to flush the phone and jump in the pit and shake yo’ rump. This is punk rock after all, not your kissin’ cousin’s weird wedding.