Handheld – “A Canadian Tragedy”

Handheld are a friendly looking punk band from Kitchener, Ontario. When I saw their picture I thought to myself, “They seem fine”. After seeing the music video for “Leaving Candyland,” off their forthcoming album, that feeling only intensified. Before we get into the music, the band, and the history of Kitchener formerly being called Berlin before anti-German sentiment during World War I resulted in changing the name to a former British field marshal (we might not actually get to that part), let’s talk about this amazing music video in greater detail. 

Both the song and the video pay homage to the peerless John Candy, who is a Canadian treasure of the highest order. If you don’t love John Candy, then you’re a bad person who hates punk, and must only be here for those stupid Google ads about that company who makes tech fiber cargo shorts with knife holsters. This video brings back to life many of John Candy’s best roles, with the band dressing up as Barf from Spaceballs, Uncle Buck, Del from Planes, Train, and Automobiles, and more. Famous scenes from these seminal films are reenacted, but with guitars. It’s well done, and a lot of fun to watch. The song itself is catchy early Fat style punk that should appeal to anyone who snowboarded with blue hair in the 90s. In particular I hear the first two Strung Out albums, but with some Blink 182 in there as well. It’s got the young goofiness of the latter, but also there are multiple kick drums firing off at rapid speed the whole time, bits of metallic noodling, and tons of dudes going, “Aaahhhh, laaahhh”. I think if you like either of those bands, you’ll like this record too. It’s got a lot of good things going for it. John Candy for one, it’s a comeback album (their first in 14 years, which I love), and they’re from non-Toronto Ontario, which has churned out some of the best punk rock the world has ever known.  

These guys seem like they’re having a good time and actually like each other, which is something that always translates well into the music. Look at Oasis for example, they’re terrible. I bet catching Handheld live in their hometown, especially after a long hiatus, is not a bad way to spend a night out in Kitchener.

–Zack Akenson

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