Monday, July 22, 2013

Bushplane Musical Madness II Review!!

As we wind down a stacked weekend of concerts in the Sault area (with Shinedown & Rotaryfest fallout to come), let's keep things rolling with our review of Saturday night's Bushplane Musical Madness II event! Apologies for the delay, but the videos I shot took forever to upload. Before we get to the bands, here's a bit of a look at the layout and setup for the evening. The performances were in the main "museum" hangar area of the Bushplane Museum, and compared to the first Bushplane Musical Madness event in November, the stage looked better and more professional (the lighting helped.) Also, the stage was now set up near the concessions building, flanked by actual bushplanes on exhibit, rather than it's placement on the wall on the other side of the museum from last year, so it was much more interesting visually and looked more like it was in the advertised venue in pictures. I also liked how the hangar doors were open to allow for mingling on the waterfront, and it added a nice view and ambiance that you don't get often at heavier shows! Note however that the draws and raffles from November did not return, the only sold merchandise (that I could tell) were copies of Haggith's "Deuce" album, and the size of this location (though impressive for concerts) did detract a bit in terms of the audience level, but being counter-booked against Rotaryfest, you'd have to expect that somewhat.

After a slight delay, Bushplane Musical Madness II kicked off with local solo musician James Watterworth playing a solo set, which I'll concede not knowing much on going into the show. All I knew is that I last saw him live winning a battle of the bands with Blackwater in 2010, and that he'd do slap bass solos. We did get that, but much of his set was based around solo vocal/guitar performances (including covers of The Delusionaires), with only a handful of bass songs at the end. Regardless of instrument, he's clearly a talented musician, with a solid rock/clean singing voice, and his bass skills are as good as advertised! What struck me about James' set was his constant optimism and cheery nature (he was definitely happy to be there) and the sort of avant-garde nature of some originals, complete with amusing lyrics and Mike Patton-esque tics. I definitely think James should get a full band going, as some of his songs are asking for a full band to flesh them out, but his set left a positive impression on Saturday, and I'm eager to hear more at Oddzfest 2013 Metal Mash-Up this Friday!

Next up was local jam/alternative rock trio Mike Haggith & The Din in their public concert debut, but if you saw their private Goulais Mission gig over Canada Day weekend, their set will be familiar, as they essentially repeated the same songs, including "Analog Palace", "Lay My Body Down To Rest", and "Limb Coast". This was my first time seeing Mike Haggith front a live band for a full concert, and he had a good stage presence and used his voice well for the material, though I'd like to see more adaptations of his best original material in a live setting. Curtis McKenzie & Daniel Horton fit well on bass and drums, and this looser jam/acid feel does add a unique element to their set, but they could be a bit more energetic (maybe they were saving up for the Haggith set that night.) At the end of their set, the guys called on fellow Paperclip Productions artist Frank McGillvray (who manned the camera for official concert footage that night) to play three songs in a surprise mini-set, with the same performers backing him (aside from Mike & Daniel swapping roles), so how did Frank do for the first time I've seen him live?

He's a skilled guitarist and had good chemistry with Mike and The Din, giving more of a classic rock sound with heavier influences to the three songs they played (including one instrumental), and his voice had a determined and carefully timed effect that seemed to fit what he was playing! I don't think Frank has any online pages for his music yet (any past references I've seen were from Paperclip Productions posts), but I'm curious to hear/see more of what he can do!

Third on the bill was local punk trio The Northern Tragedy (replacing Redundant) in the first time I've seen them since the Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands, and they've definitely improved their all-around game since then! Musically, their originals (like "Excuse My Choices" & "Dragon Drums") flowed well and shown solid all around talent, with Terrence Gomes' energy and vocals giving a good punk vibe to their set, and unlike at the battle, the guys were outwardly showing some emotion, seeming like they wanted to be playing their songs. Mike Ivany and Corry Rideout still need to loosen up a bit and not look down for long stretches, but they're making the right steps, and they're getting better at every aspect! Straight punk bands haven't been overly prominent locally in recent years, but if The Northern Tragedy keep on the up & up, they can help change that, and I hope they can find long success that some of Terrence's older bands didn't hit!

(Also, if anything shockingly different or bizarre happened during The Northern Tragedy's last couple of songs, I missed it due to my brief detour to the Second Stage to see Sailor's Tongue and get their CD. For my thoughts on what I saw of their set, check the post below this one!)

The second half of the concert kicked off with Rockstar Bar Battle of the Bands winners The Suicide Kings, in perhaps their last show as a quartet before auditioning for a permanent bassist, and they put in an entertaining mix of covers and originals for the gathered fans! Following their all-covers turn at Rotaryfest, originals like "Into The Fray" and "Beaten Down" were welcomed back along with renditions of System of a Down, Rage Against The Machine, and Collective Soul songs (among others), and though their talents were clear as day, Mike Gaetano's vocals were somewhat hard to hear (especially when singing higher notes), and their cover of "Aerials" had a lot of lyrical mix-ups. Steven Flint was on fire on guitar though, and Mitch Sirie's bass work went off without a hitch, though I was hoping to hear more originals than we got. Very good set of hard rock action, and stay tuned for updates from The Suicide Kings' next plans as they come in!

Second last on the evening was local alternative/grunge quartet Haggith, who pumped out a well recieved set of fan favourite songs for their loyal following in attendance! There were some differences though, as Kristi-Lee Marshall (who provided backing vocals at their last few dates) did not do the same on Saturday, and frontman Curtis McKenzie largely stuck to only vocals save for a few acoustic guitar parts. Their set was familiar however, with tracks like "Clifton Hill" and "Anthem" joined by some fun covers (including Jimi Hendrix and Cheap Trick classics), and the guys were definitely feeling the energy and gave back in kind, playing with a carefree attitude and some clear intensity when called on! Though the absence of his guitar work was disappointing, Curtis' singing was very strong, and the rest of the guys were consistently good, with Caleb Cachagee's bass work showing some impressive qualities! The guys were also joined by guest guitarist Rainey Vincent on a song late, and though he fit well, I'd need to hear more of his work before judging his skills.

You know a band does well when an encore ("Rage Train") is required, and Haggith delivered a fun aggressive set that we should get a reprise of at The Oddfellows Hall on Friday, so be there to check it out, and stay tuned for more from their camp as it rolls in!

Finally, the headliners of Bushplane Musical Madness II (again) were the original crash band themselves, Sykotyk Rampage! Their first concert in three months saw them whip out a mix of old standards and newer songs, with "Sicked", "Lowest of the Low", and "Bucket of Ham" seeming to draw a lot of enthusiasm and pent up energy from the remaining fans, including on-stage partying, moshing, and even some interpretive dance! Muscially, Sykotyk Rampage were on form from their other recent gigs, though I'll give some extra notice to bassist Tony Briglio for adding a gritty metal edge to their backing vocals and stage setup since joining last summer! Guitarist Dirk Becker also had a wild spell for three mid-set songs, dropping the guitar to focus on an triptych of crash metal originals, including breaking out the baseball bat to use on their monkey mascot George, which led to some continued "monkey baseball" games! As before, you can't easily judge Sykotyk Rampage against other bands just because of their style and how they record, but I like them, they clearly had fun, and the fans had a ball!

Overall, while this show was very long and rough on my feet, the music was very entertaining wall to wall, and the atmosphere was great! It's just a shame that the attendance wasn't better, but when you're booked against Rotaryfest (let alone the last day), I can understand the crowd situation. Hopefully a lot of money was raised for the musem though, and it'd be nice if this became annual as an official "Third Stage" for alternative, punk, and metal acts, but who knows what will happen. I did get a bunch of photos (the airplanes and environment let me be creative), so click here to check them out or visit our Facebook page! As for videos, I got one of most of the performers, so here's James Watterworth playing his bass original "Sneeze", Mike Haggith and The Din playing Mike's solo song "The Ballad of K2/K3", Frank McGillvray and Haggith playing an untitled instrumental, The Suicide Kings playing a cover medley of The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, and Finger Eleven hits, Haggith playing their non-album original "Public Enemy", and Sykotyk Rampage playing "Sweet Young Thing"!

That's all for now, but I fully expect a new news post today, as with expected Rotaryfest and Shinedown fallout looming, I don't wanna fall behind any more than I already am. It'll definitely have a preview of TOMORROW'S Resignators/Side FX show at The Rosie, but anything else is up in the air as of this writing (and yes, that means our YouTube Channel Profile on David Gold's channel is being postponed to tomorrow, but don't worry, it's packed!) Thanks everyone, and stay tuned for what I expect to be a busy stretch!

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