Lunatic's Serenade

Killer Dwarfs – The Rockpile East

For anyone who grew up in Toronto during the 80’s the Killer Dwarfs were the darlings of the Canadian metal scene. The group was led by the boundless energy of vocalist Russ Dwarf, who helped to bring the band to great acclaim with such hits as “Stand Tall,” “Keep the Spirit Alive” and “We Stand Alone.”

They were signed to Epic Records and released a trio of albums before breaking up after getting dropped from the label in the mid 90’s. The band did reunite in 2001 to play a special one off show in Toronto, recording the concert for a live CD called “Reunion of Scribes,” but after that the band went back on hiatus.

Twelve years have now passed since that show, and wouldn’t you know the Dwarfs are back in business resurfacing once more to support a new release. The album in question - “Start @ One” was originally recorded at Powerlines Studio in 1993 and never released until now. With that album now sent out into the world, the Dwarfs decided to go out and support the long lost record with a series of concert dates that kicked off last month in the States. Tonight though, they make their hometown stop at the new Rock Pile East in Scarborough, helping to celebrate the grand opening of the new club.

The Rock Pile is the brain child of Dominic Tassielli who once owned the Big Bop nightclub in downtown Toronto. The club closed down in 2010 and soon after he was back in business again with the grand opening of the Rock Pile in Mississauga, Ontario. Rock Pile West as it is now known as, was home to many great rock and metal acts and it didn’t take long before the expansion of the franchise into the east end of Toronto was warranted. Scarborough is the obvious choice for the club’s latest expansion, given the rich history of metal acts spawned in the area. Sacrifice is the one big band that comes to mind and there are many more that have come and gone since.

As for the opening night festivities, the crowd started gathering out front of the club around 7:30pm and waited patiently for the doors to open up for the very first time. But once those doors flipped open, the crowd of mostly over 40 year old fans stormed into the bowels of the club, ordered drinks in excessive numbers and got ready for a night of some solid heavy metal. It didn’t take long before the first of 4 opening acts took to the stage and appeased the raucous audience. We started off with long time metal act Mortal Fear, then followed by Flux440, Born Emotionally Dead and then capped off by Diemonds.

Just shortly after midnight, the Killer Dwarfs came to the stage, opening with a rousing version of “Stand Tall.” This classic number really got the crowd into it and from there Russ and the boys ran through several great cuts from past albums. What was obvious from the start was how great and energetic they looked and sounded, and Russ Dwarf stole the show as far as I am concerned. He was bouncing around on stage like he was still back in the 80’s and his voice remained steady while reaching those high notes - the dude still had it!

"Russ Dwarf stole the show as far as I am concerned"

Some of the standout numbers from their 90 minute set included: a really strong performance on “Union of Pride” from the album Big Deal and “Nothin’ Gets Nothin’” from Dirty Weapons really stood out. At this point Russ was interacting with the crowd and doing some crowd surfing, as the fans truly bought into his stage performance. From there they played the title track “Start @ One” from the new record and then poured some positive energy into “Comin’ Through” from Dirty Weapons. They closed the show with the spirited “Keep the Spirit Alive” and finally came back to do “Dirty Weapons” as the encore number to finish the night off.

The show finished around 1:30am, but it was well worth it, given how great the Dwarfs sounded on stage. It was like they never really left and I think, as a reunion show goes, this is as good as it will get with them. Russ did say after the show that the band would be returning next year in early February for another show at the Rock Pile East, so yours truly will definitely be there to keep the spirit alive!

Kenneth Gallant, Editor HMS

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