Saturday, May 5, 2012

Metal Showcase At The Roberta Bondar Pavilion Review!!

It's time for my review of last night's metal concert, but before we get to that, check out our new news post featuring band member departures, a breakup, and more from this morning below this post! Now, here's some thoughts on The Roberta Bondar Pavilion as a concert venue. This outdoor location hasn't been a frequent sight for local metal shows, aside from metal band appearances at festivals & fundraisers, but even beyond that, there hasn't been anything too major there in recent years. Most of the ones I can think of offhand, I wasn't at, and were before I started the SMS site, so I think this was my first actual concert under the tent since Finger Eleven's headlining show there almost 8 years ago! Going in, I had heard bad things about the audio setup, but honestly, my only real gripe with the sound was that the singers' volume tended to be way too low, and each band's frontman tended to be very hard to hear, even when just talking. I expected the echo and the delay in the sound being heard by the crowd, but you could barely hear the singers regardless.

Partly because of that, I actually had two song titles incorrect when uploading videos, so hopefully if more metal shows happen here, something can be done about the vocal levels. The attendance was solid (especially during The Bear Hunters' set), but with such a large and wide open venue, you'd need an exceptionally large crowd to do it justice and make it look full, and even the Kiss Battle of the Bands crowd transplanted to the Pavilion would have probably looked really empty. That aside, it's a nice venue for bands and the outdoor location gave a uniqueness and local touch to it all, and the expanse of the Pavilion lent itself well to different and varied camera angles!

Opening the concert was extreme metal quintet Winkstinger (replacing As It Stands), and though they started about 40 minutes late, they delivered a fun and brutal set of their amusing and creative originals! Songs like "Jimmy Got His New Legs (Derp.)", "Bidniz", and "Cheese Grater Face" populated their 8 song set, and they definitely melted the faces of the early attendees of the show! Despite the echo and low volume issues, Alan Wells' singing seemed to be on form, and the band made the most of the larger stage! Jesse Cook's lead guitar work slayed as usual, and Ryan Sherman's bass work also came through well last night! As always, their set was a lot of fun, and it's good to hear more of the material we can expect on their debut EP, whenever that's coming out. Though the rest of the bands were forms of death metal, Winkstinger set the tone very nicely, and hopefully we'll be seeing them and their creative metal attack again soon!

Deathcore quartet The Valentine's Day Massacre were next on the bill, and as one would expect, they delivered a solid set of brutal originals and covers! This was the first full length set of theirs I've seen in a while (the last two times were shorter sets), so while we got originals like "Vampiric" and "Let It All Bleed Out", some covers of Parkway Drive and Throwdown material returned to their set, among other songs! Their talents were ever present, especially for Andrew Angelic's great guitar work, but they do benefit from a less delayed sound system and higher vocal volumes. Steve Rhodes was growling with his trademark intensity, but he was even harder to hear than Alan was in Winkstinger. Their fun and often synced-up stage presence was in full force, and fans definitely seemed to enjoy their set! Nice work once again, and I promise you guys that I'll get "Vampiric" on video the next time I see VDM live!

Third last night were Desbarats death metal quintet For All That Is Lost, and though their set definitely seemed to be shorter than the other bands, their steady improvement is continuing! Notably, this was the first time since last year (I think) that they played live without their white masks, and though I'm not entirely sure why they were left out, it was fairly windy yesterday, and blowing hair + limited visibility might not have worked well. Tyler Sperry's growling was solid from what I could tell, and he made the most of the larger stage with his improving stage presence, and he shown good movement! Kameron Nicholson's drumming was also varied and fast paced, and though there was some stiff stage presences, the guys in F.A.T.I.L. have increasingly good chemistry on tracks like "The Return of Dionysus", "Viscosity of Blood", and "Graves of the Ancestors". Their cover of Lamb of God's "Laid To Rest" had timing issues, but the guys had a nice and heavy set, and apologies for the incorrect title again from my video last night!

Second last at this show was local melodic death metal quintet The Bear Hunters, and like the other bands last night, they unleashed a brutal set of their originals for the fans in attendance! They had the night's peak crowd level, and we got to hear their slate of brutal originals like "Deception", "Karma", and "Bloodthirst" while the band (sans frontman Nik Deubel, oddly) rocked their new official t-shirts (which were officially put on sale yesterday.) Nik was particularly hard to hear on the microphone yesterday (that's not his fault though), but the band rocked the stage well, especially with Mitch & Josh's shredding riffs and Justin Lam's bass skills! Nothing was wrong with their playing last night, and Nik's casual stage presence was fun and welcomed, with the fans in attendance responding in kind, but I wonder why Nik wasn't clean singing like he has in some songs? Pretty good set overall, and I should be seeing them again later this month!

Before the last band took the stage, we were graced with the presence of drag queens, as true to their word, participants at the "Drag It Out" event at Sault College arrived on the scene, and one named Gia Diamond even took the stage to lip sync a song for the crowd! Very interesting, and I can safely say I've never seen drag queens at a local concert, but it was fun for what it was! Honestly, I'd have went for more of a flash mob impact out of them and had the drag queens rush the stage between sets, have them all perform, and then scatter, which might have upped the impact beyond just showing up. Still, they were a unique and interesting addition to the night!

Capping the lineup was local crust/death metal trio Shit Liver, who also were selling band t-shirts for the first time last night! As one would expect, their set was full of their trademark brutal and quick death metal songs, including originals like "You're Scared", "Shift Liver", and "Helen Kellers", and they blasted through them with their usual attitude and grimy take on their genre! The members' vocals suffered the most with the volume issues, given their style of singing, but they sounded as good as you'd expect them to in other areas! Josh Penno is improving on guitar, and I liked some of his solos a lot, and Mike Kyle & Matt Baic impressed on bass and drums! The lower attendance than The Bear Hunters had was a bit disappointing, but I understand that Shit Liver's sound can still be polarizing. The nighttime setting (which descended quickly before their set) added a cool ambiance to their material, though I'd have liked to have seen them set up their gear closer to the crowd, as they seemed extra spaced out and pushed back compared to the larger bands earlier in the day. Nice brutal way to end the evening, and it's good to see a full Shit Liver set again!

Overall, this was a fun way to spend a Saturday evening, and even if singers couldn't be heard well, that's something that can hopefully be corrected if more shows take place here. Luckily, no noise complaints were issued, and everything seemed to go well for timing and behaviour! Kudos to Mitch Sirie for the booking job he did, and hopefully he has a lot more in store no matter where he's booking shows at! Photos from the show are now up at our Facebook page or this location, and hopefully you guys liked some of the creative angles I took on some photos! Apologies for the quality of the Shit Liver photos, the nighttime setting isn't fantastic on my camera. As for videos, here's Winkstinger playing their original "Move It, Peenie-Weenies, My Hands Are On Fire!", The Valentine's Day Massacre's song "Let It All Bleed Out", F.A.T.I.L.'s song "Graves of the Ancestors", The Bear Hunters playing "Overthrown", and Shit Liver playing their songs "Helen Kellers" and "Shit Liver"! (I apologize for most not being in HD dimensions, but my camera acted screwy after the Winkstinger video when I tried, so the rest are in standard definition. I'll look into this problem for sure!)

That's all for tonight, but stay tuned for more news and notes soon! Thanks everyone!

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