Friday, October 31, 2014

Devil's Night At The Oddfellows Hall II Concert Review!!

Once again, Happy Halloween to all of our readers! Today marks our second of three concert reviews via our run of three attended local metal/punk concerts in three days, as we were in attendance for last night's second annual Devil's Night concert at The Oddfellows Hall, but before we get into the review proper, check out our previews of Sunday's Brains concert, this weekend's Sault Michigan hard rock shows, and more in the post below this one! Attendance wasn't great last night (I'm not even sure if there was ever 50 people inside for a band at once), but being on a rainy Thursday night, who knows if that played in. Still, plenty of varied surprises abounded, so let's begin our review!

As announced, last night's show began with an hour-long rap block from Blood Shed Productions-affiliated rappers, but I was running late, so I regrettably missed the opening set from Phat Boii. He has rap talent, so hopefully I'll get another chance to check him out in the near future! When I got to the hall, Miracle Man was on the mic, and in case you didn't know, Miracle Man is the rap alter-ego of Revolution/Brutaly Fatal frontman Austin McCrae. Donning his best Paul Stanley makeup for the occasion, he laid down some good rap, if a bit casual and lacking a lot of crowd engagement, and it was nice to see Chase Wigmore hop in on guest bass during his set! The rap section ended with Mikey Thomas (ex-Haggith bassist Caleb Cachagee's cousin, pictured), and even though he was the rapper I was least familiar with going in, he really impressed with high energy, visible aggression, and a fast rhythm for the genre, and it was a solid way to cap the rap start to Devil's Night!

The regular band portion kicked off with as a solo set by the talented James Watterworth (credited as Delusionair Lionhair), but fans were surprised when he reunited with former Strange Coyotes bandmates Chase Wigmore and Mike Haggith for his entire set! Given how unamicable things sounded earlier this year, it's great to see everyone back on the same page! I'd stop short of calling it a full band reunion though (at least, not yet), as Chase and Mike just provided backing instrumentation to James' existing originals like "DNA DNU", "No Attachment", and "Best That You Can", but it did bring back memories of last year's Devil's Night show, where they joined James during his solo set then as well. Compared to James' true solo sets, it's always nice to see his solo songs fleshed out with a full band sound like this, and everyone sounded good and energetic, so hopefully we hear more from James (and perhaps The Strange Coyotes) soon?

The aforementioned Austin McCrae was up next with his doom/punk trio The Revolution (formerly the second Brutaly Fatal), getting back to his heavier rock sound to a solid reception! Evenly split between 4 originals (like "Monsters" and "Mercury") and 4 covers (of everyone from Kiss to Weezer), the guys showed good musical talent, with Rainey Vincent's bass work shining for most of the set, and I like how drummer Brandan Glew is talking more between songs, as it lifts some of that weight off of Austin, who still strikes me as too aloof and shy in terms of crowd interaction. To me, their set was a tale of two bands: On originals, they're tight, aggressive, and have a good thing going, but on covers (with the exception of "God of Thunder"), the guys sound like a completely different band. "In Bloom" was noticeably messy, and in general, the covers are still a jarring jump from their doomy originals. Still, solid set, and hopefully The Revolution keep plugging away!

Blood Shed Productions goregrind duo Rotopsy returned to the site (and one year anniversary) of their live concert debut next,  and if you're a fan of their minimalist brutality, you'll have been right at home! Debuting a few new songs (one with an unbelievably long name) along with playing established originals like "T.F.T", "Let Us Rot", and "Grinded Live In Your Faces", Dylan Taylor and Tyler Gibson were on form with their enthusiastic two-man metal, but Tyler was stuck on the upper stage for their set, which left their set to be more reserved and less bouncy than I'm used to. Luckily, Rotopsy were playing to one of the peak crowds of the night, such as it was, and their loyal fans were headbanging and moshing away from start to finish, including the odd sight of a moshpit slowly moving away from the stage! Unaccustomed fans still might see Rotopsy as an acquired taste, but they have a good thing going and a good following!

Next was supposed to be the return of local grind/experimental duo This Is Your Band On Drugs, but for unannounced reasons, they didn't play last night (for what it's worth, I didn't see singer Nick Burns around, which could be related.) We were still treated to a return for one of guitarist Chase Wigmore's bands, as his acoustic/indie rock trio The North Shore (formerly Like Father Like Son) made their surprise return to the stage in T.I.Y.B.O.D.'s place! Unlike at their Dank Fest set in April, drummer Felipe Salvestrini was on hand to form their full current trio lineup, producing a casual, though well composed sound that was a pleasant diversion from the surrounding metal, albeit as a large outlier. It was nice seeing former local hardcore singer/promoter Jeremy Hannah back on stage too, and while Chase's guitar work fit the material better than at Dank Fest, he too was stuck on the upper stage and had limited movement. Nice seeing The North Shore again though!

Local classic metal quartet Project 421 were up next in their first concert appearance in over 5 months and first since the departure of singer Curtis McKenzie, though he has not been replaced in the band, so existing guitarist Blair Burch is back on lead vocals... for now, at least!  If it is permanent, fans will be glad to hear that Blair's lead singing voice has considerably improved and loosened up since their late 2013 launch, and I wouldn't complain if he remained on lead vocals! The guys covered everyone from Black Sabbath and Kiss to Bad Religion and Alice Cooper in their set, with Frank McGillivray nailing some solid solos, and Larry Mousseau dependably good on drums as usual, and it was a surprise to see the guys cover "Children of the Sea" so well last night! Blair still does do some songs that are out of his vocal range, but Project 421's new/old sound works well, and hopefully they're back on stage before you know it!

The aforementioned Tyler "Ringsnaps" Gibson hit the stage next to rock out with his goregrind solo project Crucify The Whore, and his 10 song set definitely got Blood Shed loyalists moving and moshing! Playing songs like "People These Days", "Batch Cones", and "Bunk, Shake, and Headache", his set was impaired by being stuck on the upper stage again, which kept him from feeding off the crowd as much. Aside from that, Tyler's guitar riffs and pig squeal vocals were consistently brutal from past concerts, and he definitely seemed happy to be back on stage rocking out with fans and friends alike (same for the Rotopsy set, and yes, Dylan joined him for a C.T.W. song too!) Again, not everyone's cup of tea, but he's having fun, and the Blood Shed crew have a devoted following, so what more could you ask for! Look for more from C.T.W. in the coming months!

Local grunge/alternative quartet Haggith were up next with a set that they were really hyping up in advance of last night's show, so what was special about it? Well, aside from "No Cure For Insanity" & "Rage Train", all of their songs last night were from their upcoming studio album "XIV", with only "By The Hand" and "Runnin' From Love" not played. As a result, their set sounded heavier than normal, going with the trend of their recent non-Apocalypse music, and everyone sounded good! Curtis McKenzie definitely was showing off his vocal range to solid effect, and now that I've seen new bassist James White playing the band's more typical material, it's easy to see how good of a fit he is with Haggith! That said, if you were hoping for covers, songs from "Deuce" or the "Apocalypse" CDs (or anything with Curt on rhythm guitar), you'll have been disappointed, but Haggith's hard hitting yet melodic set was very good, and look out for their next studio material when released!

The show's nominal headliners were Sudbury death/groove metal quintet Archelon in their first local appearance (though they've played with local bands in Spanish & Cochrane, and you may recognize guitarist Brady MacCoy from Catharcyst.) They were definitely the most ready for Halloween, with each member wearing at least a hat for the occasion! Somewhat newer than most out of town bands that we see here, Archelon played a 7 song set roughly divided between original songs like "To The Teeth" and covers of the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Pantera, with death metal vocals to kick things up a notch. Solidly brutal, the guys had a great command of what crowd was left (things peaked for Haggith), and singer Bobby Cobras had an intense presence and projection that belied his roadkill bunny costume, later giving an emotional tribute to his dad who recently died. The drums were overdone on "Seek & Destroy", but I'm curious to see where Archelon go from here, and Brady's Dean Razorback is beautiful!

Last on Devil's Night was the aforementioned Chase Wigmore in his fourth appearance of the day, and if you've missed his solo acoustic experimental sets, you were in good hands if you stayed past 1:00 AM! I couldn't stay for the whole set, but fans got a mixture of irreverent covers and established originals, including a song meant for The Strange Coyotes, and like in his sets last year and early this year, Chase's humour, unique presence, and guitar talent was clear as day! He even made use of his carny work over the summer early yesterday with some announcing after the rappers' set, so Chase as we knew him is back! What I saw was fun, and hopefully I'll get a chance to see his show in full in the coming months, perhaps with a full Coyotes reunion? Overall, the second annual Devil's Night concert from Heavy North Entertainment was very good, and full of surprises, but the turnout wasn't great, even with the intended anniversary and Devil's Night timing. Everyone seemed to have fun though, and in the end, that's what matters most! Here's to another Devil's Night show in 2015!

I got 9 photos of each act (sans Phat Boii, apologies again), and you can see them at this link or at our Facebook page, and as for videos, here's the 11 we shot, and in chronological order, here's Miracle Man playing "Welcome To The Bloodshed" (with Chase & guest rapper Dylan "Dillionaire" Taylor"), Mikey Thomas rapping a song whose title was unannounced, James Watterworth & friends playing "Sneeze", The Revolution playing "Prisoner of Hate", Rotopsy playing "Swamp Donkey", The North Shore playing "Shotgun Blasting" (I think), Project 421 covering Fleetwood Mac's "The Green Manalishi (And The Two Prong Crown)", Crucify The Whore playing "Entrepeneur of Depression" and "Necro Incest Gangbang" (they titled it, not me, don't shoot the messenger), Haggith playing "These Four Walls", Archelon playing "Banshee", and Chase Wigmore covering Hank Williams III' "Pills I Took" and Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks", albeit very loosely!

Miracle Man & Mikey Thomas

James Watterworth & friends and The Revolution

Rotopsy & The North Shore

Project 421 & Crucify The Whore

Haggith & Chase Wigmore

Archelon - Banshee

That's all for today, but we'll see you guys at The Algonquin Pub TONIGHT for The Halloween Party, as we send Frightlight off in style! Thanks everyone, and have a happy Halloween!

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