Monday, March 5, 2012

Dead In The Van Fundraiser Concert Review!!

It's time for our next concert review at the SMS, and this'll be a long one, as last night's "Dead In The Van" fundraiser concert at The Canadian Nightclub was the largest concert I've attended for SMS purposes in 11 months! Not since the Sewer Swampstravaganja last April have I seen a concert locally with at least 8 bands, but how'd everything shake down? Read on below to find out!

Though things were a bit delayed to get started, the 5:45 PM-ish beginning still left lots of room to rock, and to check out Frightlight's new merchandise as well! Hopefully sales of those helped add to their goal of a tour vehicle along with the rest of the proceeds last night! Attendance rose steadily through the day, though it did have a noticeable drop-off later in the night, which I'll get to later on in this post. The opening act last night was Business Suit Trappers guitarist "Evil" Greg Callaghan in a solo set, but while I was familiar with his work in bands like Terminal, I didn't know what to expect out of his "surprisingly evil" solo work. Basically, Greg's solo set is comprised of acoustic campfire-style punk rock covers with him singing & on guitar, and he played unplugged versions of Misfits, Bad Religion, SNFU, and Ramones songs, among other bands. Greg definitely did these songs justice on guitar, but what surprised me most was his deep singing voice, which fit the punk style well while still flowing with an acoustic performance. I'd be interested to hear Greg front a traditional punk band at some point, but for now, this glimpse at his solo work was definitely pretty good, and I hope to see him back on stage again soon!

Next on the lineup was Desbarats death metal quartet Inhuman Methods, who were making their local concert debut last night! Nice to see them come to the Soo for their first show, but how did they sound? Aside from a two song instrumental stretch, they mostly focused on Lamb of God covers, with songs like "Laid To Rest", "The Faded Line", and "Omerta" among their setlist. The band as a whole do have talent and promise, and both Alex Swain & Wesley Carson shown some nice skills on the guitar last night especially! The instrumentals were proof of that, but I'm curious to hear vocals added to them. For a first show, I won't nitpick them or their stage presence, but there was two things I should address. One, they need a bassist, and two, singer Curtis Moir needs to work on his timing with the music. His death growling is brutal enough, but he was late or out of time with the rest of the band on most of their covers, and (spoken word intro aside) he didn't even perform on their "Omerta" cover. I'm sure they'll work on that though, and they do have visible promise even still, so hopefully when they play at next month's Humane Society Battle of the Bands, Inhuman Methods will improve on this good start!

The Desbarats metal assault continued afterwards with the Canadian Nightclub debut of For All That Is Lost, but did the white masks return with them? Yes, and there was even more this time, as bassist Ben Deslauriers wore one on the back of his head too! Now, I know that the band had some criticisms about their set and sound last night, but just going by what I saw and heard, I enjoyed them! Having just seen F.A.T.I.L. two weeks ago, not a whole lot changed beyond the addition of a new song to their setlist, but they're continuing to improve as a band with every show! Tyler Sperry's stage presence continues to jump higher from when I first saw them, and guitarist Brook Moreau is definitely growing more and more to the point where F.A.T.I.L. might not need a second guitarist if this keeps up! Solid set from this talented quartet, and in my opinion, definitely better than they might have thought yesterday!

The first half of "Dead In The Van" ended with classic metal quartet Late & Loud's return to The Canadian, and they put in a dependably good set of originals and select covers! With songs like "Love Letter Lockdown", "Heavy or Bust", and "Whisper of the Damned" in store, they rocked the stage about as well as you'd expect them too, and with some good energy to go along with it! Like with F.A.T.I.L., nothing too different was in store last night compared to Late & Loud's last show that I saw, but they did throw their all into their set last night, especially with Benn Garside's solid bass work and some excellent leads and solos from Jon Tiberi & Brendan Christie! Late & Loud's biggest gap is still their need for a singer, but their talent is as clear as day, and fans definitely seemed to enjoy their set, and that's what matters most! Solid work all around!

Fifth on the bill last night was local death metal quartet The Valentine's Day Massacre (formerly View To A Kill), and though there was a delay to set up Kyle Umgeher's electric drum kit, they still tore it up last night! Along with select covers, they unloaded original songs like "Vampiric", "My Sweet Delilah", and "Make Death Wait" for fans, and I was most impressed with their raised energy compared to their show last month at The Rosie! I know illnesses took their toll last month, but this time around, there was no stopping these guys, and it showed with Steve Rhodes' stage presence! He was all over the place and sounded very brutal on vocals in the process, while Andrew Angelic's guitar work was on fire as we've come to expect! The fake blood that some members sported was an interesting touch, but overall, The Valentine's Day Massacre are showing more and more improvement and brutality, and if their mid-set announcement of recording an EP soon rings true, we'll be sure to pick it up!

Following them was local punk trio Redundant, and though their sound was a bit of a diversion from the metal that preceded it, they delivered a solid set of punk covers for fans! Frontman Justin Langlois apologized pre-set for possible vocal issues due to an illness, and while he did sound a bit weaker than I'm used to, he had no major screw-ups either, so it all worked out! Their set featured covers of everything from Green Day to Weezer to Johnny Cash, and we seemed to enjoy it all pretty well! James White's bass work is solid as ever, and his brother Rick's drumming fit everything well enough as well, so if you like punk rock, you'd have enjoyed Redundant's set! Notably, this was both Redundant's first show of 2012 and their first show since Woods of Ypres frontman David Gold passed away in December. Justin Langlois was a very good friend of David's, and in his honour, the band covered a song by David's pre-Woods local band Proposition 86 at the end of their set, which was a cool surprise! I'd have filmed it if I wasn't low on battery life, but hopefully at next month's Ypres Metal Fest, I'll get a chance! Solid set overall, and hopefully we'll be seeing Redundant again shortly!

The penultimate band last night was hardcore quintet As It Stands, who (if memory serves me correctly) were playing at The Canadian for the first time in almost four years! Myself, I haven't seen As It Stands live in almost eight months, but this was a good way to get back into the swing of things, as they were definitely on form from how they sounded last summer! With originals like "Conception", "Big Problem, Little Lock City", and "Everything Terrible" blasting for their fans, they had perhaps the biggest reception and crowd numbers of the night, and with an energy filled metalcore assault, it's easy to see why! Justin Pregent's screaming was about as good as I expected, and both he and Angelo Huckson unloaded a lot of energy and enthusiasm during their set, along with some awesome drum work from John Mignacca to boot. It's good to see As It Stands again, but the fact that many people left after their set was very disappointing, especially given the early timing of the concert and headliners Frightlight's talent and prominence. Still, for an exciting and very heavy set of original songs, As It Stands delivered on all accounts, and hopefully I'll be seeing them again quicker than 8 months from now!

And finally, your headliners last night were the very band who the proceeds of last night's show went to, horror punk quintet Frightlight! Though this show was their first with new drummer Chris FreakNStein in almost four months, their full lineup still wasn't present, as rhythm guitarist St. Mayhem was absent for unannounced reasons. Disappointing, but Frightlight's 2009-2010 run was as a quartet, so they handled the set very well regardless! Their set was full of their classic horror-influenced punk and metal songs, like "She Screams", "Fright Night", and "They All Float", along with Fitswitch, Misfits, and G.G. Allin covers, and the crowd that was left was clearly in favour! Lots of fans were singing along with the band, and the members sounded as good as you'd expect, from Rick Styles' guitar shredding to Johnny Pints' aggressive punk/metal singing! Chris' drumming was welcome to see again as well, he's a good fit with some of his old Fitswitch bandmates in Frightlight! Though the crowd had died down, Frightlight's set was a success, and they raised a few hundred dollars (including $2.50 from an As It Stands-auctioned F.A.T.I.L. mask) that should help cover their tour van! Awesome end to this concert, and hopefully Frightlight are back with a vengeance shortly!

Overall, this was a fun (though obviously long) concert with lots of local/Algoma talent, and if the rumblings I've heard about a second "Dead In The Van" show are true, then I definitely hope to be there! If you missed it, you missed out! I did get photos, so click here to check them out, or visit our Facebook page (which also has this concert's "Tag Yourself!" crowd photo.) And I got a video of each act, though I apologize ahead of time for the fact that they're a lower quality than my other recent concert videos. I had to shoot them in standard definition to ensure I had space for this amount of videos, given the size of the concert. So (in chronological order), here's "Evil" Greg Callaghan's cover of The Misfits' "Skulls", Inhuman Methods' cover of Lamb of God's "Hourglass", F.A.T.I.L.'s original "Viscosity of Blood", Late & Loud's original song "Fast As A Bitch", The Valentine's Day Massacre's song "Make Death Wait", Redundant's cover of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" (preceded by a portion of their cover of Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls"), As It Stands' song "Oh Herm, Herm Delish", and Frightlight's song "They All Float"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a new news post tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

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