Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Crusade Review, Plus A Band's Surprise Debut, And A Concert Cancellation!!

Hey guys, it's time for my review of last night's cancer fundraising concert The Crusade, but first, we have a notable concert cancellation, as next week's Brains/Frightlight show has been cancelled. Promoter/opener J.D. "Johnny Pints" Pearce cited scheduling and routing for the cancellation on his promotion agency's Facebook group, but he hopes to bring The Brains back during their next tour run. This is definitely disappointing, especially as the show would have marked Frightlight's return after 7 months off of the stage, but we'll still see Redundant at The Oddfellows Hall next week, and hopefully horror punk and psychobilly fans will get a makeup date soon! However, J.D.'s most recent concert was last night, and it was announced that at least $300 was raised for local cancer charities at the event! (However, there were no vendor tables that I could tell, beyond Haggith's merchandise area.) The crowd was sort of sparse, but on a school night at the end of the holiday weekend, that may have been expected somewhat. Also to note, the lineup order was almost completely shuffled, with one band replacement, but we'll approach everything as we go, so here's my reviews and thoughts of each of last night's acts!

Opening last night's concert was returning local death metal quartet Crimson Crusade in their first live concert appearance in six months, and if there was some stage rust, it didn't really show! Their set included original songs like "Here We Lay", "Pillage", and "For Him" (among others), plus covers of Death's "Pull The Plug" and "Crystal Mountain", and like their last show, the Death influences were clear as day! Devon Lucier's vocal resemblance to Chuck Schuldiner is still impressive, and their full lineup had lots of talent and shining moments! Robert Sartini and Devon compliment each other well on guitar, Robert Crossley's drumming here is arguably better than it ever was with Inhuman Methods, and Riley Marshall's bass work was solid and fit their style throughout! Crimson Crusade have a lot of promise, and they don't sound like other local death metal bands, but they need momentum on their side to attract a bigger following (the planned EP and the Skeletonwitch show should help with that), and they could be a bit livelier on stage. I like where they're going though, and I can't wait to see what's next!

Next was former Terminal & Business Suit Trappers frontman Greg Callaghan in an acoustic solo set, and if you've seen his "evil" solo concerts before, you'll probably know what to expect. He played a mix of punk and rock covers, with his suitably deep vocals and clear guitar skill complimenting each song nicely (despite a mid-set broken string issue, I believe.) Covers included renditions of everything from Bad Religion and NOFX to Johnny Cash and Bruce Springsteen songs, and though the crowd wasn't crowding the floor, they did recognize and appreciate his talents! I still think he should front a full band locally again (perhaps with more of a punk base than Terminal had though), and his deep clean vocals would be a unique added element if he did, but his solo sets are fun for what they are, and hopefully his next one has a larger turnout!

Third on the bill was Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands winners The Suicide Kings in their first Canadian Nightclub appearance of the year, and the momentum from their recent successes propelled them through an entertaining mix of originals & covers! Songs including "Way Out of Hell" and their upcoming EP's title track "King of the World" were joined by System of a Down & Rage Against The Machine covers, plus the return of their assorted covers medley from the battle, and throughout, their talents and chemistry matched up nicely! Mike Gaetano's heavier singing is still a nice fit for their style, but it's not as consistent on softer & cleaner sections, so I tended to like their more aggressive tunes the best. It also says a lot when Steven Flint and Mitch Sirie can switch guitar and bass duties on some songs, and neither misses a beat in the process! I'd still like to see a bit more crowd engagement, but overall, The Suicide Kings are on a hot streak, and hopefully they keep it up as we creep into the summer!

The next band was a late replacement for local classic metal trio Caveman Morrison, who couldn't make the event for unannounced reasons. Disappointing, but I know we'll see them back on stage soon, and hopefully they'll turn up at The Canadian again at some point! However, drummer Johnny Belanger was on hand anyway, as their replacements were local melodic death metal quintet The Bear Hunters! Solid choice, and as they just played at The Rosie on Saturday, they weren't rusty or ill prepared to jump in, so fans didn't have to worry about them being off their game! Their set had no real surprises, with popular originals like "Dominate", "Karma", and "Succumb To Eternity" attracting some devoted fans & headbangers to the floor! Musically, the guys were all on form, and luckily, Mitch Sirie's guitar levels were higher than I'd seen at some recent gigs! Everyone put in a brutal set and were performing as well as I'd assume (maybe with less energy though), but just wait until they open for Skeletonwitch next month!

The penultimate full band last night was local grunge/alternative rockers Haggith in their Canadian Nightclub debut, and they may have made the biggest impression with their freewheeling, energetic, and fan-engaged set! Originals like "Clifton Hill" and "Rage Train" got their ardent fan base going, along with covers of Jimi Hendrix, Stone Temple Pilots, and "Heavy Metal" soundtrack songs, and the guys definitely seem a lot more relaxed and into the music than they did even last year! Curtis McKenzie's vocals were very strong, his and Daniel Horton's riffing and melodies flowed very well, and Mike Haggith was a wildman all night on drums! Also, the band was joined by backing vocalist Kristi-Lee Marshall throughout their set (as she was on much of their new album "Deuce"), and while she's very good in this role, she was often very hard to hear, and many songs featured her only minimally (if at all, a'la ex-Banned singer Mike Straw.) Haggith are definitely on the rise locally though, and if they keep on this pace, they'll be a must watch band soon!

The headliners (and only band to maintain their original setlist placement) was local punk/metal quartet T-Rex Manning, and they put in another fun set of covers (and one original) for the remaining fans! Their set was largely similar to past T-Rex Manning shows, with covers of The Misfits, The Bloodhound Gang, and The Ramones joining their original "She Banged The Mayor", among many others, and everyone seemed to be on form from past concerts! J.D. Pearce's vocals were as reliable as ever, and Bill Bennett's determined bass work was solid as usual, and even if there weren't a lot of new wrinkes, T-Rex Manning were solid and full of entertaining covers, as expected! I just wish the crowd was better. After their set, Bill and drummer Rick White ceded the stage to Bear Hunters bassist Justin Lam and Asylum Country drummer T.J. Case, as they, J.D., and Tiffany Stocco debuted their new band Jack Spades at the end of the night!

It was just for one song (a cover of Pennywise's "Fuck Authority"), but given the sound, lineup, and what I've heard from J.D., they will play heavier stuff too. I won't judge the band based on this one song preview (which did have some elements that needed work), but with a promising lineup and a high profile set coming when they open for The Dayglo Abortions in September, you won't wanna miss out!

Overall, this was a fun concert, though I bet it'd have drew a larger crowd and more funds raised if not held on a holiday. The bands were all firmly in support of beating cancer, and everyone delivered great sets of original and cover material, so all is good from this show! I got a bunch of photos of the bands (sans Jack Spades), so check them out at this location or at our Facebook page, and I did get videos of most of the bands (sans Greg Callaghan, his heavier covers I only identified when they were in progress.) In performance order, here's Crimson Crusade playing their song "Lost Memories", The Suicide Kings playing their newer original "Beaten Down" (I think that's the name), The Bear Hunters playing "Servitude", Haggith playing their new track "Anthem (I did film it this time, Mike!), T-Rex Manning covering Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law", and the debut Pennywise cover from Jack Spades!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for a major new concert announcement, and big news on a locally relevant tribute album's release, tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

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