Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jack Spades EP Release Party Review!!

Hey guys, it's now time for our review of last night's Jack Spades EP release show at The Rockstar Bar! Before we get into the performers, I should mention that physical copies of their EP "The First" were $10 at the door, while patches, posters, and more band paraphernalia were also on sale at the door upon entry, and we will give a more in-depth look to the CD this coming week (and yes, our review is also imminent!) Good turnout last night, fans were very active by night's end, but it did start slowly. Now, to the bands!

The night started with a late addition acoustic set from Jack Spades bandmates Johnny Belanger & Jesse Cook, with Johnny reprising his singing & acoustic guitar work from the Sewer Swampstravaganza open mic block last week. Aside from Jesse's addition on second guitar, this set was largely similar in song choices (if not exact) with Johnny's open mic set, mixing punk covers of bands like Flogging Molly and Social Distortion with alternative & indie rock covers from the likes of Blue October and Biffy Clyro. Like then, Johnny has underrated talents as a singer and guitarist, but I remember him playing both when we were still at Bawating in the mid-2000s, and it's nice to see him break out of the drumkit more nowadays! I assume too that his covers reflect more of his own music preferences, so why hide them for so long? Jesse's guitar work was a nice addition, but he seemed a bit out of place at times, though we'd get his more usual fare later in the night. Solid start to the evening, we'll have to see if this goes any further!

Next up was local classic metal quintet Project 421, though with a temporary change up front, as singer Curtis McKenzie is out of town at the moment due to work commitments. They kept it in the family for his mystery replacement though, as his younger brother Travis (who played guitar in some of Curt's early bands) filled in on vocals in his place, though guitarist Blair Burch sang lead on the first two songs. While Travis doesn't have his brother's vocal range, and his stage presence did seem a little forced at times, he does possess a punk tone that fit pretty well on Judas Priest, Kiss, and Metallica covers, and I'd be curious to hear him in a full time band again! Everyone else was in their usual form, with Blair's guitar work standing out, and Larry Mousseau's experience drum skill showing throughout the set! This might not be the optimal way to see Project 421, but Travis filled in nicely, and if the need arises, they should give him the call again!

Co-headlining was local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements (replacing Destroilet) in their first show since Medi-Fest in March, and they left a good impression in their Rockstar Bar debut!  Their set featured assorted funk rock covers including heavier songs from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Tenacious D, and Nine Inch Nails (featuring Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce on guest vocals), and they handled each pretty well, though a few were a bit messy. Like when I saw The Elements at the former Roosevelt Hotel, I found them hard to photograph partially due to how animated singer Rob Speers was, but his voice held up well on their songs, while it was nice seeing Alex Hagerman on drums again, and James White's skilled bass work was a constant! The delay before their set was the only major complaint I had, as The Elements have a good thing going that's a bit different from the norm, and hopefully we see them back at it soon!

And finally, your headliners were local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, who tore through a slightly sped-up set of originals and covers in honour of their release of their new EP, and fans were very receptive! Along with all 5 songs from the new disc, Jack Spades' setlist also included newer originals like "Frederick" and "Motorwolf" and Misfits & SNFU covers, and their freewheeling intensity and attitude served them well with the crowd! J.D. Pearce's vocals were up to par from past shows, Justin Lam's bass was excellent as usual, and in his third set of the night, Jesse Cook showed no obvious wear as he tore through some very nice guitar solos! Aside from a late mishap during "To The Left", things seemed to go off without a hitch, and hopefully last night's show kicked off Jack Spades' EP in style! If nothing else, they jacked The Rockstar Bar, and there's definitely more to cover next!

Overall, this was a very fun show, especially with the release party frills and seeing some bands who aren't regulars at The Rockstar Bar at this very nice venue, and be sure to look for more on "The First" this week! Photos and videos from the show can be seen at this link or via our Facebook page, and as for videos, here's Johnny & Jesse covering The Verve Pipe's "The Freshman", Project 421 & Travis McKenzie covering Iron Maiden's "Running Free", The Elements covering Volbeat's "The Mirror & The Ripper", and Jack Spades playing their short originals "Crossroads" & "They Live"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for last month's poll results and this month's new poll TOMORROW, plus new news soon! Thanks everyone!

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