Hey guys, here's my review of last night's second annual Sewer Swampstravaganza at The Oddfellows Hall! The night was not without some problems and lineup ambiguity, but we'll address those as they come. With 10 bands playing last night, let's jump right into the review with the first band, the debuting local indie trio Like Father Like Son. Though they started a bit late and didn't have the longest set, they did show talent for their genre, and the few early fans in attendance did seem to take to them well! Their original songs were well written, and it was good to see Jeremy Hannah & Nathan Bouliane playing together again (albeit in a much softer project than their old band Lorax), and they and drummer Felipe S. (unsure of his last name) had good chemistry! If anything, the most disappointing element of their set was the crowd numbers, but a debuting band on a Friday afternoon understandably wouldn't have a packed house. Musically, L.F.L.S. are a bit light for my tastes, but their talent was unquestionably there, and they set the tone well!
Second was local/Grand Rapids folk trio Ye Olde Mold Pickers, which marked the first time I've ever seen one of local artist/accordionist Rihkee Strap's bands live (though I have seen her play solo before.) Their sound is probably the hardest to describe of the bands last night, but their mix of originals and covers came through clearly and definitely seemed to entertain the people in attendance, myself included! I hope this isn't a bad comparison, but they sort of sound like what you'd hear at an avant garde carnival, and there was definitely an ethnic tinge to their sound, but the creativity was great, and Rihkee, Nick, and Kyle played their instruments as good as I've ever seen locally (granted, I don't see washboard players much, but you get my point!) Solid stuff all around, and kudos to Rihkee's artistic talents too, "Crossing Borders" was a neat buy! Following them was local rapper Conika (replacing Inhuman Methods), and from what I could tell in her short set, she does have rap talent, but this definitely seemed like not the best circumstances for her to perform in. Late notice for a different sort of crowd will do that, but she does have nice flow with her rhymes! If anything, the audio quality was muffled (that's not her fault though), and she could have been a bit more animated, but she is good at what she does, and even though I'm not a huge rap fan, she'll definitely find a great audience if she keeps at it!
Fourth was new local rock band Ashes To Dust in their first show outside of Superior Heights, and I was definitely curious to hear what they'd play outside of the confines of their school. Evidently, so were their friends and family, leading them to have (surprisingly) the highest attendance of any band last night!) So, how'd they sound last night? Pretty good, and their setlist was chock full of metal, including covers of everyone from Black Sabbath and System of a Down to Judas Priest and Priestess (which really surprised me), though their set was not without some lighter fare, making them the only band I've ever seen to cover The All American Rejects AND Drowning Pool in the same set! I'm not sure if they're getting heavier or just expanding more that way for public events, but they did show talent. Noah Morden's singing has a nice punk tone to it, but I find they do too many songs that are above where his range can go (on "Lay Down", it was very noticeable), and Kyle Breckenridge needs to work on his bass a bit, but Alex Hemy and David Peredun both did very well on guitar & drums! They also seemed generally very stiff on stage, but with more experience, they'll loosen up.
This was a nice first live glimpse at Ashes To Dust, and they're definitely on the right track, so hopefully we'll see much more from them in the coming months! Given how heavy their setlist generally was yesterday, I think it's about time to add them to our Sault Ontario metal band links, so welcome our newest band to the site, and stay tuned for more Ashes To Dust news shortly, including another video from their set yesterday!
Now, fifth was supposed to be local deathcore quartet The Valentine's Day Massacre, but after dropping out early yesterday due to (I think) scheduling conflicts, they were quietly removed from the lineup... for a while. Promoters called in fellow death metal locals For All That Is Lost to replace them on short notice, but then, we heard that The V.D.M. could play after all, so as a result, the bands opted to split their set time, so we got two bands for the price of one, but how'd they do in their shortened sets? Both did fine, though the crowd numbers dropped drastically after Ashes To Dust's set (very disappointing, but somewhat expected.) In F.A.T.I.L.'s case, they shown a lot of energy on songs like "The 10th Commandment" and "The Black Ritual", and they had no major issues to speak of! Nice and brutal, and also encouraging the evening's first moshing, and part of that is thanks to frontman Tyler Sperry's incredible energy, which saw him jumping and moving through each song! He does much better work when he has open space to make use of, and he had plenty last night! Given that they were playing on short notice, For All That Is Lost had an entertaining and well done set, but hopefully their next show will have more advance word and fans!
As for The Valentine's Day Massacre's half-set, they sounded a bit rougher than F.A.T.I.L. did, especially on their set-capping cover of Lamb of God's "Black Label", but their originals tended to come through well! Steve Rhodes and his new hair cut gave lots of intensity on songs like "Vampiric" and "Delilah", and the rest of the band tended to play well, but the day's events probably didn't help their sound. Good crowd response though, and they rocked really well for the time they got, with Andrew Angelic's guitar playing standing out as always! They were followed by the second debuting band of the day featuring Nathan Bouliane on bass, that being local blues rock quartet The Moves, and the talent in this band carried them to an entertaining set of original material, if an outlier between five metal bands! My only real gripe with The Moves is that I don't think this is the right genre for Josh McNally to be singing in, and I'd have had guitarist Cody McMillan on lead vocals, knowing his work in bands like Blackwater. Josh's singing works fine for his old Deter project, but it's too punk sounding & high pitched to work on blues rock material (at least, that's what I've found.) Musically though, they were tight and shown some nice songwriting, especially for the guitar melodies, and hopefully The Moves will back with some more shows in some form!
The 8th band of the day was local extreme metal quintet Winkstinger in their first all ages concert with their new lineup, and they definitely built on Anthony Orazietti's debut on Monday with another high impact set of originals and covers! Like at the 3 Inches of Blood show, they broke out Lamb of God and Pantera covers while also injecting fans with originals like "Where'd We Go Wrong" and "The Devil's Hand", and the guys sounded about as good as you'd expect them to! Anthony and Jesse Cook were on fire on guitar, Ryan Sherman's bass work was on form, and Jonas Gasperas' drumming was solid as you'd expect, but the lacking aspect of their set was Alan Wells' singing, more specifically, the audio for it. While the audibility of the singers throughout the night was lower than you'd expect, the microphone stopped working at parts, which took away from some of their intensity. They've probably had better all around performances, but if you look past the microphone issues, Winkstinger definitely impressed and attracted some more fans for their set (and in one case, on the stage itself), so it all worked out!
Following them were supposed to be local hardcore standouts As It Stands, but they did not show for the event. I had heard a few days prior that they weren't likely playing (I believe partly because Albert Bourrier's out of town), but word never got to promoters, as A.I.S. were still advertised through last night, so I called it as was advertised in our event previews just in case. Disappointing, but we'll see them back on stage soon! As a result, The Bear Hunters played a bit earlier and got a slightly longer set out of it, and the crowd numbers did grow a bit for their set! Like Winkstinger, it's hard to make a lot of new thoughts given that I just saw them at The Rosie on Monday, but they did get more time to unleash brutal originals like "Karma", "Overthrown", and "Bloodthirst" for their fans, along with bringing back their Amon Amarth cover! Similarly to Winkstinger's set, Nik Deubel was hard to hear due to the microphone issues, but it was slightly less of a problem, and the guys blasted some solid death metal in their set, including Johnny Belanger in a gas mask?! No major complaints otherwise, as The Bear Hunters are riding some good momentum from Monday, and it showed!
And your headliners were local classical punk trio RedD Monkey, in their first local appearance since August, the kickoff to their Canadian tour run, and their CD release show! If you enjoy their insane and entertaining brand of punk, you could buy their second album "All Baroque" last night (which I did), but I haven't decided yet whether it better captures the live RedD Monkey experience than "Thought Control Tower". Their set was full of high impact original songs like "Friar's Ire" and "The Attic" along with newer tracks like "Lotus Song" and "Zombie Epoch", and as you'd expect, they unleashed lots of punk energy into their headlining set! Have I ever mentioned on here that I like RedD Monkey more than Smeltzer? Steve Mozarowski blitzed through their set with lots of fast paced guitar work and effective punk vocals, and his brother Pete's cello playing was as good as you'd expect given their genre, while Joe Bumbacco's drumming was fast and varied, and well suited their performance! The remaining fans definitely enjoyed the proceedings, as did I, and hopefully they're back rocking the Soo at some point this year!
Overall, this was a fun concert, of maybe not as well organized as last year's. The summer heat, microphone issues, attendance fluctuations, and (if you're superstitious) Friday the 13th setting didn't help, but there was a lot of quality musicians yesterday, including some newer talent and lots of metal, so it all worked out! Click here or visit our Facebook page to check out 100 photos from all 10 bands, including this show's "Tag Yourself!" crowd photo, and as for videos, here's Ashes To Dust covering Judas Priest's version of "Diamonds & Rust", F.A.T.I.L. covering Lamb of God's "Ruin" (free Randy Blythe!), The V.D.M. playing their song "Delilah", Winkstinger covering Pantera's "Mouth For War" The Bear Hunters covering Amon Amarth's "Guardians of Asgaard", and RedD Monkey covering Motorhead's "Ace of Spades"! (No, I didn't intend for these to be so covers-heavy, but it's all good!)
That's all for today, but stay tuned for hopefully a new news post tomorrow! Thanks everyone!