Monday, November 26, 2012

Toystock Concert Review!!

Hey guys, here's my review of last night's first annual Toystock, but make sure to check out all of our updates to our Saultites In Out Of Town Bands Profile Series in the post below this one! Before discussing the bands that I saw, here's a bit about the event's non musical aspects. Inside The Canadian Nightclub, there were many tables laid out on the floor with Christmas candy and seating for attendees, which suited the family-friendly aspect well, and there was lots of nice quality signage from Maxx Graphix for the event near the stage too! The Christmas theme ran nicely throughout the venue, from ornaments and decorations to Santa & Mrs. Claus themselves stopping by, and the kids in attendance had fun early in the evening with their lively dancing on the floor! Plenty of toys and canned goods were donated, and by the time I had to leave, almost $1,000 in cash was raised for Christmas Cheer, which is awesome! There were also draws and giveaways for some big prizes throughout the night, and congratulations to those of you who won! Now, due to some homework and my sick cat, I didn't stay the whole night, so I missed Summer Thunder, Obsession, Cherry Crush, and Boxcar Junction, but I hope their sets went great! Now, how about the bands that I was able to see?

The first band that I saw last night (and third overall) was new local country band Asylum, who are essentially Asylum Country with Mark Tarantini in place of the departed Tyson Hanes. I never saw Asylum Country live during their run, but if you were curious, the new band's sound was similar to what they did with Tyson, including covers of Brooks & Dunn, Thompson Square, and ZZ Top material, among numerous others. I grew up in a family of country music fans, so I'm familiar with many of these songs, but I'm personally not a huge fan, though I do admire the band's talent! Mark's singing was pretty good on a country scale, and it was nice seeing Terry Eaton bust out some solos on some of the tracks, while they all seemed to enjoy playing together and for the dancing kids on the floor, and guest drummer Ric Datson added well on two later tracks! It was good to finally see Asylum (Country), as even though this isn't my thing, they're clearly good at what they do!

Next up was new local hard rock band The Suicide Kings (replacing the still unknown K.I.C.K.), and in just their fourth concert, what did they bring to the table? At least for this show, they played a variety of newer modern rock covers, ranging from Velvet Revolver, Our Lady Peace, and Van Halen to Three Doors Down, Weezer, and Green Day songs, along with two originals ("Into The Fray" and "Red Rover"), which gave them a nicely varied sound, but I wonder if they picked lighter and more general material given the family friendly nature of the event? Singer Mike Gaetano reminds me of Cory Murchison from Skeyes of Seven vocally, and he added some needed aggression and punch to some of their covers ("Seven Nation Army" especially), and the rest of the band seemed talented and cohesive! I just wish I could hear Steven Flint's guitar better, much of his riffs were extremely quiet for some reason. I'm very curious to hear how they do in a longer set, but this was a nice first introduction to The Suicide Kings, and we'll have more on their next concerts in an upcoming news post!

Following them were the second of three debuting bands, that being Lucky 13, but who exactly is in this new band? Their lineup features singer/guitarist Ed Vowels (Aftersight), his former Route 69 bandmate Jeremey Salatuk (Wishbone) on guitar, ex-Turner Up/Johnny Lunchbox bassist Jeff Gray, and drummer Roger Sartini, which is a promising lineup (I'd missed seeing Ed on stage especially!) Their set was largely 1990s alternative rock covers, ranging from Foo Fighters & Collective Soul to Big Wreck & Tragically Hip covers, and they gave each song a raw edge and grit that suited the material well! Ed's singing voice flowed nicely on each track, Jeremey's guitar work was impressive as I remembered it, and Jeff was as solid on bass himself! Not familiar with Roger though, but he seemed to add well to their set, which gave a heavier yet casual spin to these familiar covers! I'd say Lucky 13 would fit for SMS coverage, and hopefully the guys create an online page for the band, as they should attain a local following!

The last debuting band of the evening was next, that being new local cover rock quartet Griphook! As we alluded to their other day, their lineup features singer/guitarists Jim O'Leary (ex-Flat Stanley) and Brian Oja (Bigsuit) alongside former Southern Fried bandmates Dan Beaupre on bass & Anthony Fabiano on drums. Their set featured a definite mix of genres, from AC/DC and Finger Eleven to U2 and Rolling Stones material, and they seem to skew towards classic rock moreso, though they did feature some nice acoustic guitar integration! The members all were very talented in their own right, but I do have to single out Brian's lead vocals on their AC/DC covers, as he sounded really close to Bon Scott on them! I'm probably not the first person to notice that, but I've never seen him sing live before, so I have to compliment that! Griphook's set was entertaining and diverse, and here's hoping they continue forward locally!

Following them was the first of two bands from Toystock organizer Greg Simpson, that being local rock trio Stiffler's Mom, who were great to see live on the stage again after so long! Their set was full of their familiar party covers, ranging from Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy to Ramones and Johnny Cash material, and the guys seem like they haven't lost a step from their recent breakup! Greg's simultaneous singing and drumming got the crowd going from what I saw, and both Mike Davies and Jon Ferguson rocked out well on their varied covers! I did miss their original material though, I was hoping to hear at least one song of their own last night, but the covers that we got were fun and energetic, and they made the most of this latest concert of theirs! Here's hoping there's much more to come!

The last band I was able to catch was Greg's other band Bone Yard, who play a country music-centric set that also went over well with the crowd, and was a convenient bookend to my evening after catching Asylum first yesterday! Their set included covers of songs by Gary Allan, Jack Ingram, and Justin McBride hits, and like Asylum, I had much the same reaction: A very talented band who are very good at what they do, but country music isn't my cup of tea. Greg and Kevin Tallon's vocals suited the country material, and Ric Datson's drumming was awesome as usual, and the increasing fan numbers enjoyed every minute! Of course, I prefer Greg & Ric's old work in That's Chester, but if you love country, Bone Yard do it very well, and as long as they love what they do, I'm all for them doing it! Here's to much more success for them!

From what I saw last night, I had fun at Toystock, and hopefully Greg and Maxx Entertainment brings Toystock back annually! I'd perhaps like to see more bands playing original material, but it was nice to see some artists that I haven't see often enough (or at all in some cases), and congratulations to everyone for all of the toys and money raised for Christmas Cheer! I did get photos, so click here for pictures of the 6 bands I caught (or visit our Facebook page), and I also shot 4 videos of hard rock/metal performances for you guys to check out! So here's The Suicide Kings playing their original song "Into The Fray", Lucky 13 covering The Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song", Griphook playing AC/DC's "Girls Got Rhythm", and Stiffler's Mom covering Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news soon! Thanks everyone!

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