Sunday, October 26, 2014

Soo Zombie Walk 2014 Concert Review!!

Hey guys, it's now time for our review of yesterday's band portion of the sixth annual Soo Zombie Walk, but also be sure to check out this morning's new news post featuring lots of recent updates in the post below this one! In terms of the event itself, this was my first Zombie Walk that I've attended in full since 2011 (I only saw the bands due to a cold in 2012, and scheduling conflicts with The Ripcordz threw a wrench into last year), so I can now attest to how things have changed and grown since the Grand Theatre days. Like last year, the Zombie Walk was held at The Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, which opened up the event to a far larger space for activities, which included numerous local vendors selling food, jewelry, art, crafts, and much more along the outer walls. There were games for kids, photo sessions, face painting, and between the bands, Jell-O brain eating contests. I also wanted to mention before we got too deep into the review that there was an official Zombie Walk afterparty last night... it was just far removed from what it used to be.

According to a poster at their booth, one (or maybe both?) of the Wacky Wings' in town hosted this year's afterparty, but it appears to have been strictly an afterparty with a costume contest and free virgin Bloody Marys. No bands that I know of, but Wacky Wings isn't known as a concert venue. Advance marketing for the walk didn't touch on the afterparty, but I apologize for missing it on here!

Opening yesterday's pre-walk music was Northwest guitarist Greg Callaghan (credited online as Greg Calhoun) in his second straight solo appearance at the Zombie Walk, and it's been too long since I've seen him playing an acoustic set like this, so how'd things go? He played a wide variety of covers, ranging from artists like Danzig and Dio to Michael Jackson and David Bowie, and he adapted some decidedly un-acoustic songs to that format with relative ease! All of the songs too dealt with dark and horror themes, going with the themes of the event. If you've seen Greg's solo sets before, you'll know exactly what you got, and his deep singing voice contrasted his guitar talents well, though the crowd was only mildly receptive, though you can't expect a nightclub or crowd reaction given the family nature of the walk. Solid set, and hopefully we hear more from Greg and Northwest soon!

Second yesterday was the original crash band, Sykotyk Rampage, marking their return to the stage after 5 months away! Despite this being their first show back since the unveiling of their newest "albums", their set was more themed around zombies and the family friendly themes of the event, so they eschewed adult language and beer references in their songs, instead adapting lyrics for most to reflect zombies, brain eating, and so forth (i.e. "Drinking on the Weekend" became "Eat Brains on the Weekend"). That's par for the course for Sykotyk Rampage Zombie Walk sets, but now that I've seen them play to the pre-walk family crowd, I can tell that their live show loses a lot of energy when they can't be their usual 19+ selves. Musically, the guys sounded good though, and while guitarist Dirk Becker didn't take any lead vocal spots, bassist Tony Briglio did channel his inner Lemmy for a surprise cover of Motorhead's "Killed By Death", and even brought his brand new stand-up bass for the first few songs! Good stuff overall, but for the real sykotyk experience, come see them on Halloween!

And headlining the band portion of the pre-battle events was local grunge/alternative quartet Haggith in their first set of the fall, and true to form, their set was themed around songs from their 2012 album "Apocalypse" and it's sequel, which is still planned to come out on Tuesday (no, advance copies weren't available yesterday.) Their 10 song set featured six tracks from the first CD (like "Red Car" and "Days") plus four from "Apocalypse II", including all previously unveiled songs from their YouTube channel and the brand new "Hands of Death". Most of these songs aren't commonly heard at recent Haggith shows (fans may be most familiar with "If You Get Out Alive"), but if you know the "Apocalypse" series well, you'll know that these songs are more intricate, simplistic, and downbeat, but the guys handled them well, and it was nice to see Curtis and Daniel in zombie/Joker makeup!

Also, this was the first time I've see Haggith since James White replaced Caleb Cachagee on bass, and he fit in just fine with the guys, but I'll get a fuller sense of how he fits in when the guys play other common originals at The Oddfellows Hall on Thursday. Though I prefer Haggith's heavier and more lively songs, it was nice hearing some older tracks again, and stay tuned for updates on the "Apocalypse II" release! As for the Zombie walk itself, we all left the Bushplane Museum and went down Bay Street until hitting Russ Ramsay Way/Brock Street, then heading down Queen Street (passing the old Zombie Walk home, The Grand Theater, in the midst of their anime/cosplay convention), before finishing on Pim Street back to the museum. The zombie resistance gathered in the lawn outside of the library to take on the zombie horde, and it's safe to say there was some good battles! I will concede however that the walk seemed shorter than it did when it started at The Grand (but that could just be my adjusting to the format), and the earlier timeslots did take away from the ambiance, as the walk seemed to be cooler when it was at night.

The walk ended with prizes awarded to the best costumes for zombies and resistance fighters (kids and adults alike) which included custom trophies and skull candy dishes, and congratulations to the Big Bird zombie above for winning the adult zombie prize! Myself, I went as a zombie hipster (no offense to the hipster culture was implied, it was all in good fun!), and it was fun to get back into the walk again after three years! As for the bands, they were all solid and fit the themes of the day, but I will say this: Something is lost when you move punk and hard rock bands from a 19+ post-walk afterparty to a pre-walk family-friendly event. I have a feeling that all of yesterday's bands would have been better served to headline a proper afterparty like the Zombie Walk had from 2010-2012, but also have music and bands before the battle too so that there's entertainment for the families. Basically, let us have our cake and eat it too! I do hope to be back at next year's Zombie Walk, but I'm already debating whether to be a zombie, or join the resistance... time will tell!

Check local news media for fallout from the walk itself (we'll let you know if anyone covered the bands), and the zombie/resistance photos above are courtesy of Kenneth Armstrong's SooToday article on the walk. We got plenty of photos of the bands that you can see at this link or at our Facebook page, and as for videos, here's Greg Callaghan covering Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London", Sykotyk Rampage playing "Zombie Hunter" ("Disbeliever" with zombie lyrics), and Haggith playing their new song "Hands of Death"! (Note that the embedded videos below still work when clicked on, I don't know why they don't show a thumbnail image right now. Just in case, I've labelled each.)

Greg Callaghan - Werewolves of London

Sykotyk Rampage - Zombie Hunter (a.k.a. Disbeliever)

Haggith - Hands of Death

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news this week as we approach a stacked Halloween weekend for concerts! Thanks everyone!

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