Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rock For Dimes 2014 Concert Review!!

Hey guys, before we get to our review of Friday night's Rock For Dimes, I wanted to apologize for a missed concert on the site, as local alternative rock cover quartet Lucky 13 played at The Rockstar Bar last night, but the band never plugged it online, and the venue only did on their Facebook group an hour before showtime. We mentioned it on our Facebook page last night to at least address it for fans, but I sincerely apologize for not getting it on the site, and we'd have plugged it in our weekend previews had we heard about it! For what it's worth, the gig wasn't a replacement for the cancelled Whiskey Shits show, as that was going to be downstairs.

Now, to the concert review, as Friday night saw the second annual local installment of Rock For Dimes, the March of Dimes fundraising concert event, which took place at The Delta Waterfront Hotel rather than The Grand Gardens for the first time. I haven't been to this building for a concert since it was the Holiday Inn, back in the last years of the Bon Soo Battle of the Bands, but over the years and since the new owners moved in, things looked very different. The show itself took place at the hotel's Algoma East Ballroom, and in terms of non-musical aspects, there was a 50/50 draw, a door prize draw, a live auction for a guitar from Case's Music, and a number of silent auction prizes. The ballroom was nicely laid out with professional staging, an ongoing slideshow of bands and sponsors, a pleasant ambiance, and pizza, nachos, and drinks on hand for attendees to partake in, which was all a nice touch! Ward 4 councillor and local radio personality Lou Turco was on hand to MC the event, and while he was friendly and seemed happy to be there, you could tell that the bands generally weren't his thing.

The opening band was supposed to be The Damon King Band (the last remaining holdover from the cancelled youth battle of the bands), but they dropped out of the show for unannounced reasons on Thursday. Hopefully all's well with the guys, but it is a shame that every aspect of the youth battle completely eroded away. In their place, local alternative/hard rock quartet Late Shift (accidentally announced as "Last Shift") filled in on short notice, and it was nice to see them jump in, especially with how good their set was! Covering everyone from Led Zeppelin to The Offspring during their 6 song set (including an original song that I think was called "Freight"), the guys showed some good chemistry and talent, with John Barber's impressive vocals shining brightly, and Clint Wilson providing some dependably good bass! Though their shows are sporadic (and they lack an online page), Late Shift impressed, and don't miss them at Coch's Corner this weekend!

Also, as an aside, John was excellent in interacting with some of the younger kids in attendance during and after their set, he was a natural! Yes, this was an all ages event, remember that the battle of the bands would have featured high school-aged acts.

Though The Elements were advertised as the next band, they traded places with local grunge/hard rock quartet Haggith on the lineup for unannounced reasons, but Haggith had a surprise in store, as they've apparently added Beaumont Avenue guitarist Steven Flint (also of Mourning Wood) to their lineup as their new bassist, replacing James White. While a reason hasn't been stated, James told me it was related to his personal schedule, and I'll leave it at that unless the band elaborates. It's not clear yet whether Steven is officially in Haggith now or just filling in, but given that he played with Curtis & Daniel in the similar & dormant band Punch, he fits in just fine! In fact, half of Haggith's six song set was comprised of songs that Punch played live (i.e. "Metal Cage"), which was nice and convenient! The bassist change aside, the guys were tight and energetic, and put in a solid effort as usual, so fans had nothing to worry about!

Local funk/hard rock quartet The Elements were on next after the band trade, and though their set shared surface similarities with Late Shift's (both bands covered Sublime, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Led Zeppelin), they upped the funk rock quota with an entertaining set of their own! If there was any lingering feelings from bassist James White's exit from Haggith, it didn't show in his solid output, while Jesse Cook was predictably very good on guitar, and Rob Speers jumped genres well and made the most of his range! It was nice to see The Elements again, but compared to their surrounding bands, why'd they only play 4 songs? They could have slotted one or two more in, but beggars can't be choosers, and their set was still entertaining and delivered the goods for fans! Keep an eye out for The Elements at more upcoming shows in the coming months!

Newer local cover rock band Mourning Wood came on next, and they're one of three that I'd never seen live before, so how'd they do? Their 5 song set featured covers of Joe Walsh, Billy Idol, AC/DC, Metallica, and Black Crowes songs, with guitarist Terry Eaton generally singing lead on them, aside from bassist Steven Flint handling "Rebel Yell" and drummer T.J. Case singing "Highway To Hell", though across the board, the guys sang each track well! Honestly, Mourning Wood were heavier than I thought they'd be, and while there wasn't a lot of visible energy and movement, these are three very talented musicians who know a number of genres, and it showed well! Terry handled singing and guitar work very well, and while some songs sounded a bit empty without a second guitar, they have a good thing going so far! Stay tuned for more on Mourning Wood on the site this week!

Fifth on Friday was the local progressive/jazz rock quartet Mannapool, who were somewhat of an unknown commodity to many despite being together since 2012. They left a good impression though with a skilled sound that I don't think many people were expecting to see at Rock For Dimes! Playing four originals (I think), the songs went from slower and darker to more upbeat and lively, but all had a technical progressive vibe with good talent all around and solid effect usage. Locally, I'd compare them to Machines Dream, but is it wrong to say that they reminded me of a mix of The Black Keys and Anathema? Though I wasn't familiar with any of the members before hearing of their Toystock involvement, they all showed clear talent, with Josh Ingram's melodic vocals flowing very well, and bassist Michael Dempster kept up solid energy with his playing! Though not a "heavy" band, Mannapool were impressive, and I hope to see them again at Toystock!

Co-headlining this year's Rock For Dimes was local classic/hard rock cover quintet The Thrill Junkies, making their first live concert appearance since January, so 5 songs or not, this was a long time coming! The Turner Up successors covered Lit, The Foo Fighters, and Radiohead before tackling two Weezer songs, and while there was some minor stage rust, these local veterans were in their element, and it showed well! Travis Sharpe's versatile singing was on full display (nice to see him fronting a band again), and both Robert Brown and Jason Nisbet showed their guitar talents throughout their set! This was also the band's first show since Redundant's Rick White replaced Scott McLurg on drums, and he fit in pretty good with The Thrill Junkies, though we'll get more of a sense of the new lineup when they're back playing at bars. Solid comeback for The Thrill Junkies, and don't miss them at Sault Band-O-Rama!

Headlining in their second straight Rock For Dimes set was local punk trio Redundant, who capped the night with a 7 song set of covers and originals that definitely kept the remaining fans going! Encouraging everyone to join them on the floor (the only band to do that), their set featured cameo appearances by two of frontman Justin Langlois' sons, who ran around, talked into extra mics, and added a cute family element to their set! Redundant covered songs from the likes of Rise Against, Operation Ivy, and Weezer with the ease that you'd expect from them, and aside from a brief stoppage to announce silent auction winners, they had good momentum and definitely seemed to be having fun! It should also be noted that bassist James White indicated on stage that their debut album is planned to come out by February, which is the first I've heard of them making one in many months, so we'll have to see if that comes to fruition. If you left early, you missed a solid punk set, but you'll see Redundant again soon!

Though a "jam session" was teased to close the event after Redundant wrapped up, it didn't take place for unannounced reasons. Even without that, I'd call this year's Rock For Dimes a success based on what did occur on Friday, and it was nice to see a variety of local bands join forces to help support The March of Dimes and the United Way! It's just a shame that the youth battle of the bands didn't take place, but if they try it again next year, hopefully they advertise and promote it more locally (or maybe open invitations to adult bands?) SooToday's Donna Hopper was on hand too for coverage of the event, so we definitely await her quality photos and more! Of course, we got lots of photos of each band that you can check out at this link or at our Facebook page, though I apologize for the quality on most, as I didn't want to impose on other fans by getting on the floor to get closer when no one else was.

As for our videos, here's Late Shift covering Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and Sublime's "STP", Haggith playing their song (formerly a Punch original) "Road Rash", The Elements covering The Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Hump De Bump", Mourning Wood covering Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell", Mannapool playing an original song whose title wasn't announced (let us know if you know it), The Thrill Junkies covering The Foo Fighters' "My Hero", and Redundant covering Green Day's "Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?"!

Late Shift & Haggith

The Elements & Mourning Wood

Mannapool & The Thrill Junkies

Redundant - Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news this week! Thanks everyone!

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