Monday, April 11, 2011

Sewer Swampstravaganja & Lion Ride Reviews!!

Hey guys, sorry for this being so late, I've had some computer issues that killed many hours of my day. So I had a nice 10 hour marathon of concerts on Saturday night, having seen 11 local bands at two downtown venues, so my reviews will make up today's post! In amongst this post, there will be a bassist switch for one of the bands I saw, but which one? Read on to find out, as here are my reviews!

So my day started at The Sewer Swampstravaganja at The Oddfellows Hall, the massive 11 band all ages concert that surely got fans psyched! There was nice lighting, all kinds of handmade art for sale (and some CDs) and sound provided by Sykotyk Rampage guitarist Dirk Becker, who made everything sound good all night! Opening the show to a rather small initial crowd was local death metal quartet Skull After Betrayal (replacing Shit Liver on the lineup) in their first ever all ages concert! Compared to the first time I saw them, I have to say their sound has improved beyond their rushed-sounding debut! Their timing was better and the band sounded more cohesive and together than they did previously, and luckily, you could actually hear Justin Polutanovich's guitar playing! Along with originals like "Death", and "One In The Chamber", they broke out some well recieved covers too, like "Bloodline" and 'Toxicity" (again featuring Nik Deubel), and fans responded well! Mike Vincent's growling was very quiet and I think he needs to be more forceful with it, and bassist Adam Brett needs to make use of the other chords on his bass, but this was a big improvement from their debut set, and if they work at it, they'll be among the best in the scene in time!

Following them were Changing Waves, but before I discuss their set, I want to note a lineup change, as Changing Waves have quietly parted ways with bassist Devan Lauzon. No reason has been publicized for his exit, but he was removed from their lineup on their Facebook page at some point earlier this year. Disappointing news, he's a talented musician, but hopefully he pops up in a new band soon! Replacing him in the band is Terrence Gomes, who may be familiar to you guys as drummer for the defunct punk band Good Morning Gorillas (later Creedon & The Animal Detectives), but you may also recognize him as one of the many members of the Korah Collegiate R&B ensemble group Mustang Sally! How'd he do though?

Not bad, he seems like he'll fit in well with Changing Waves, and his bass work suited their material, but that's another element I wanted to discuss. Since the last time I saw Changing Waves, I think they're starting to expand their sound beyond just hardcore, including some groove metal-style songs and one song without any screaming at all! "Let's Try It Again" showed some nice musical diversity with a song that was, though heavy, more accessible and melodic, and Benjamin Kallonen showed a decent hard rock singing voice to go along with it! Their hardcore songs still sound good though, like "Lockdown" and "Divine Intervention", and the Hagerman brothers were great on their respective instruments as well! I do want to say that Benjamin still needs to work on his stage presence, as it mostly consisted of him pacing back and forth on the floor without looking at the crowd. The new lineup sounds good though, and I think by adding some different sounds into their repetoire, they'll stand out and grow quicker, and it'll be cool to see how far they go!

Third were local death metal band State of Misery, in their first all ages show as a quintet, and they put in another entertaining set of death metal originals! The crowd were into them, and the band were in as good of a form as I expected from past shows of theirs! After starting with a Children of Bodom cover, the band launched into originals like "Pray For Me", "Stand The Fuck Up", and their memorable ditty about intercourse with a Smurf, among others! Steve Rhodes' growling sounded as brutal as ever, though I noticed on "Pray For Me", he did the backup parts usually sung by Kevin D'Orazio. I wonder why that was, especially when he sang later on? Ray Cowan continues to impress on guitar, and the band sounded very tight! Devon Overman's finding himself more and more too, he's a good addition! Ultimately though, I can't add too much new from their past gigs, State of Misery pulled out a good set, and if you liked them before, you'll have liked them here as well!

After them was local indie rock band The Tenagens, and if I have to be honest, they were the "outlier" of the concert. Amidst all the punk, hardcore, and metal on hand, their softer (but well played) indie rock was a definite turnaround! That said, The Tenagens seemed to know that they were playing to a different crowd than usual, and frontman Josh White made some remarks referencing that during their set. Nice to see they had some humour to interject! Though I've seen them a number of times, I still am no scholar of their material, but for their style, they put in a good set of original songs (and a couple covers), though I did find it odd that two band members seemed to switch instruments before the song even ended. Not the heaviest band in the world, but they are talented, and that's what matters most!

Next on the lineup was a double shot of classic metal, starting with new local metal quartet Late & Loud, replacing SBD! This was their first ever all ages show (they played at a 19+ birthday event last week here though), and it was my first time ever seeing them, so what'd I think? Not too bad at all! I've always been impressed with Brendan Christie's solo work, so it's nice seeing him finally in a gigging local band, and he didn't disappoint with his guitar ability! Less solo moments than I was expecting, but really good work! Same goes for Jonathan Tiberi, he's one to watch out for! It's different seeing Benn Garside and Josh Hatherly playing metal, especially given their Glass Statues past, but they held their own really well, and Benn looked the part to boot! Late & Loud exuded a classic metal vibe, from attire to sound, including some old school covers of Judas Priest and Black Sabbath songs, and originals that harkened back to a slower deliberate classic sound. Shirts seemed to become optional by set's end, which was interesting! However, they seem to have the same problem as Sativa Rose, and it's that they need a singer. All four band members handled vocal parts, but none really have the range or power to sing lead, and they could be put over the top with a full time singer. But their on stage energy, showmanship, and talent are all clear, and I hope to see them in a longer set soon!

Following them was Sativa Rose in their first ever concert as a quartet, with Anthony Orazietti debuting as their second guitarist! How'd he do? Well, he looked the part (especially with the Dean Razorback Flying V), but he proved to have some great riffs and solos, and he's a talent to watch out for! Alongside covers of Skid Row, Iron Maiden, and so forth, Sativa Rose debuted their first ever originals at this concert ("Fall From Grace" & "Bellows Of The Beast"), and let me say, they're awesome sounding! They were fast, heavy, and Adam Veale & Andrew Angelic's singing suited the material! I went in expecting Late & Loud and Sativa Rose to be mostly similar and sound and style, but while their talents were both there, Sativa Rose were faster and more relentless, and they got the crows going like mad! I noticed Adam's dad John filming during their set too, I'll have the videos in an upcoming news post. Great stuff, they could very well have stolen the show, but I won't go that far as I did miss some of the bands. Keep an eye on them as well for their next shows!

The Bear Hunters were next, and as always, their melodic death metal sound was a welcome sight! They sounded no different than they ever have, which is a true testament to their sound and abilities! Thankfully, compared to the last time we saw The Bear Hunters at The Oddfellows Hall, there was little to no light and audio issues, and I could hear Nik Deubel's singing, so that was good! With originals like "Succumb To Eternity", "Bloodthirst", and "Overthrown" at hand, their set was brutal and heavy, and the band showed lots of energy! With a half hour set, a few song didn't make the cut, including fan favourite "Squirrel Boy", but what they played was great! Fans were moshing and headbanging away, and I can't complain too much! For a half hour's worth of metal, they delivered a great set that doesn't need much critiquing, and kudos to Mitch Sirie for his Control Denied t-shirt!

The second to last band I was able to see at The Sewer Swampstravaganja was Frightlight, replacing The Fury for their first ever all ages gig with former Fitswitch guitarist Kevin "St. Mayhem" Powe in the fold. How'd they sound as a quintet? Really good! Their sound isn't drastically different, and nothing new was unveiled in terms of songs, but Kevin's rhythm guitar playing did help fill out their sound, and it's nice to see him back on stage with some of his old Fitswitch bandmates! Along with originals like "She Screams", "C.H.U.D.", and "Dead Town Everywhere", they unleashed some covers, including The Misfits' "Halloween", which got a HUGE moshpit going! Seriously one of the biggest I've seen in quite a long time for a local show! Misfits, punk, and metal fans alike were going nuts, and rightfully so! Their energy was great, the songs were full of aggression and attitude, and the horror theme was prevalent throughout! You can't complain about Frightlight too hard, especially with sets as on as they were on Saturday. Just ask the moshers!

The last band I saw at The Oddfellows Hall was WinkStinger, but I regrettably had to leave during "Poop", not too long into their set. What I saw was on level with the last times I saw them, and Alan Wells put his stage presence to good use, but I can't accurately say much about their set, having not been there for it all. I did like Jesse Cook's Superman outfit though! What I caught was top notch, and I'm sure As It Stands & RedD Monkey were similarly good, but I had to leave at 10:45 to make it in time for the second concert that night. Overall, the 17/22nds of the concert that I did see was great, and it was an awesome showcase of local talent! Apologies to all three bands I (partly) skipped out on though, I'll make it up to you guys! Check out my photos from last night at this location or at our Facebook page!

And yes, I got videos of every metal/hard rock band that I saw at The Sewer Swampstravaganja, so here they are: Skull After Betrayal's connected original songs "Skull After Betrayal" & "Death", Changing Waves' song "Let's Try It Again", State of Misery's cover of Children of Bodom's "Are You Dead Yet?", Late & Loud's cover of Airbourne's "Running Wild", Sativa Rose's original song "Fall From Grace", The Bear Hunters' song "Bloodthirst", Frightlight's song "Fright Night", and WinkStinger playing "Fuck The Rest"!

So midway through WinkStinger's set, I left to take the Riverside bus to The Rockstar Bar for Lion Ride & The Billy Bastards! I contemplated staying later at The Oddfellows Hall, but this was my mindset: The last time this happened, where Lion Ride conflicted with Soo Music Mash-Up in December, I stayed later at The Oddfellows Hall for As It Stands and missed The Billy Bastards as a result. This time, I thought it was only fair to make it in time for The Billys and miss As It Stands. I'll make it up though! After getting to The Rockstar Bar, my first thought was about how great it was to not deal with such a massive line! You could tell it wasn't Toonie Tuesday, but even still, it was a packed house on Saturday. The Billy Bastards had just started their set, and to be honest, this is the first time I've physically seen them on stage since the Kiss Battle of the Bands! Only 4/5ths of the band were there (no Paul Michael Stos), but they still put in an energetic set of punk and country hybrid covers and originals! I admit that I'm far from a country fan, but this is the best it'll ever sound locally! Talented guys with a sense of humour and a clear appreciation for country music, but with a punk attitude and aggression that was always noticeable! Call it "cuntry" or "hellbilly" or whatever you like, they do it as well as you could expect!

After them were your headliners, Lion Ride, who delivered an awesome set of punk inspired metal! The band was back in top energetic form, much like their show at The Canadian Nightclub in December, only sans a large stage to take advantage of for climbing. Along with their hit originals like "Snail Trail", "Lock Me In", and "Slapdance", among many others, they also threw covers into the set again, like Kiss' "Strutter" and, yes, "I'm So Excited"! Musically, their set was largely similar to their show at The Canadian in December in content and sound, which certainly is not a criticism, as they sounded great! From Mikey Lion's constant enthusiasm and punk tinged vocals to Marco Lion's blistering riffs and solos, what can I say bad about their set last night? It would have been cool to hear a brand new song when I was there (maybe I missed one late?), but you can't go wrong with what we've heard previously! I did have to leave a touch early due to prior commitments and because I was worn out after 10 hours of concertgoing, but I had a great time even still! Lion Ride always deliver a great show, and hopefully their next local concert will come before Christmas time, we'll be waiting eagerly! Stay tuned for news on their recent photo shoot with Curt O'Neil and, yes, their upcoming album, as it comes in!

Click here to check out my photos from the Lion Ride show, or visit our Facebook page linked above! And yes, I have a video, so here's Lion Ride playing their song "Stick It In"! Why this one again? The band has "plans" for footage taken of this song last night, so stay tuned!

That's all for now, but I should have a new news post later tonight, so stay tuned! Thanks everyone!

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