Sunday, October 18, 2015

Last Month's Poll Results & Our Newest Poll!!

It's now time to close last month's poll and launch our newest poll at the SMS! As you may remember, we posed this question to you guys last month: Which of these defunct or recently inactive bands would you most want to see hit the stage again? Sadly, we only got a dozen votes, with a number of high profile recent bands not attracting any votes from readers, so our usual format of carrying over only bands with votes to this poll next year may have to be tweaked. Until then, here are the final results!

Frightlight (3 votes, 25%)
Gates of Winter (3 votes, 25%)
The Danger Cats (2 votes, 16 ⅔%)
Pillory (2 votes, 16 ⅔%)
The Fury (2 votes, 16 ⅔%)
As It Stands (0 votes) 
Beaumont Avenue/The Suicide Kings (0 votes) 
Bring The Fallen (0 votes) 
Caveman Morrison (0 votes) 
Crimson Crusade (0 votes) 
Giwakwa (0 votes) 
Haggith (0 votes) 
Half A Man (0 votes) 
Late & Loud (0 votes) 
Lion Ride (0 votes) 
The Northern Tragedy (0 votes) 
RedD Monkey (0 votes) 
T-Rex Manning (0 votes) 
This Is Your Band On Drugs (0 votes) 
Treble Charger (0 votes) 
Other (0 votes)

What do you guys think? Well, this poll was not as highly voted as last year's, resulting in only 12 votes, though they went to 5 artists, all getting at least two votes, so at least the results skewed to a few select favourite bands. A three-way tie for third went to The Danger Cats, the recently reunited Pillory (who will indeed return to the stage at next month's second Speak Easy Battle of the Bands), and The Fury, despite that band's similarities in sound to the active Apocalypse Afterparty. Fans can get their current fix of the latter two in a way, it would be great to see The Danger Cats back in the future! Tied for the lead in the poll (albeit with three votes each) were local progressive death metal favourites Gates of Winter (who have not played live in seven years, but are still active in studio) and horror punk quintet Frightlight, who amicably disbanded last fall after a five year run. In cases of ties in a poll like this, we tend to go for the newer band, as there has been less time for them to be in the public consciousness and get the same number of votes.

As a result, I'll consider Frightlight the "winners" of the poll, and while frontman Johnny Pints' current punk/metal band Jack Spades shares a similar sound and Misfits covers, Frightlight's horror-themed concerts and originals have been missed in the mid-2010s, and hopefully we see them back at it (and Gates of Winter too) in some form in the future! Thanks to everyone for voting!

Moving to this month's poll, I wanted to look at the gradual recent dropoff of active Sault Michigan-area metal & hard rock bands. As of this writing, we have just thirteen active bands in our links for the Eastern U.P., definitely much lower than we had listed in year's past. Of those thirteen, jut six have played multiple concerts in 2015, all primarily playing covers in their sets. The rest include the recently reunited Integrated System of Machines (who played just once that we know of this year) and studio-only projects, often through Werehold Records. Cases could be made to include Steelhead, Chump Change, Retro Troop, and The London Gentlemen as active "hard rock" bands too, as well as Newberry's Smashcan (who don't play out here a lot), but even if you did, we still are far from a peak for active original bands in the E.U.P., like in the heyday of late 2000s & early 2010s bands like Bad Side, Clownsack, Elipzis, Half A Man, Nixxon Dixxon, Oddfellow, and Scofflaw, among many others.

It's also worth noting that, with few exceptions (like The Pick-Me-Ups), straight punk bands haven't been recently prevalent across, hence why we didn't acknowledge punk music above. There is a lot of talent and unique qualities for the Sault Michigan side of the scene (including a typically higher ratio of female musicians in bands), but what would be the biggest instigator (to you) to get things moving again? This month's poll question is: "What should be done to get more original live metal & hard rock bands in the Sault Michigan area?", and we have 8 choices below to pick from, so here's what you should know on each!

Book more multi-band concerts/festivals: Most concerts that we cover from the E.U.P. are one band gigs at bars on the weekends, and the ones with two or more bands are often charity or community events. Compared to Sault Ontario, we don't see nearly as much concerts with multiple hard rock bands just for the sake of live music, and the loss of LemmaFest this year didn't help, but would booking more multi-band events like the debuting Superior Festival help spur more live bands along?

Start more musician lesson camps for youths: Early in the SMS' run, we often heard of summer rock camp bands across the river via Joey Beairl's Guitar Studio program (I believe Tantrym Tyme were one of their later products), but the Guitar Studio hasn't visibly been active as of late. Of course, Grooves Music offers lessons in numerous instruments, but given how many young artists came from the Guitar Studio camps, would seeing a new summer rock camp program be a benefit?

Form new live bands: Simple choice, as there's a lot of known talented musicians in the Sault Michigan area that we haven't heard from in a live band lately, or at least an active original band. Be it personal commitments, focusing on cover band work, or lack of available musicians/venues, there are reasons why any given Yooper hard rock or metal musician isn't in an active project nowadays, but should more of an effort be made to form new bands to play live and/or record material?

Reunite defunct and inactive bands: While every band has a reason for their breakup or descent into inactivity, that doesn't mean fans don't want them to come back. As we saw with I.S.O.M.'s surprise reunion earlier this year, a hard rock or metal band reunion could be a cool moment even if for just a one-off occasion, and I know there'd be a ready made audience if bands like Clownsack, Bad Side, or Nixxon Dixxon returned to the local stage in some form, especially if tied to a major multi-band concert event. Would some notable band reunions help the Sault Michigan scene out at all?

Encourage more artists to write & record original material: Maybe the problem isn't that we don't have a lot of active hard rock artists in the Sault Michigan area, maybe it's that said bands aren't recording enough. Not counting active studio projects (such as the ever-prolific SweetKenny), we have seen acts like Banned, Tantrym Tyme, and 415E either record or tease plans to record original songs in recent years. Would furthering those aims lead to an increase in concerts in support of the material?

It's cyclical, things will improve on their own in time: Are you a subscriber to the theory that the local hard rock scene in Sault Michigan will naturally grow in prominence and activity in time, and this is just a lower point in a gradual cycle? Sault Ontario has low and high points too, and maybe you find that the E.U.P. is showing signs of growth, perhaps in conjunction with the summer concert season next year? If you see this as a natural lull in the rotation, this is your choice!

Nothing, we're past it's peak: Every so often, especially on social media, I'll find someone complaining about either side of the border and the level of activity in the music scene in a negative light. Maybe you find that there's no quick fix or clear solution to get hard rock and metal bands going in Sault Michigan again, especially with population declines in the Soo proper in recent years. If you don't see a way to get more active Sault Michigan bands, vote here!

No opinion/I don't follow Sault Michigan bands: Are you a Sault Ontario resident that doesn't actively listen to, read about, or follow Sault Michigan-area bands? Do you just have an indifferent view of band, concert, and activity levels in the E.U.P.? If you don't have a dog in this fight, vote for this option!

VOTE TODAY!! You have until November 18th to cast your votes, so do so in the red voting field on the page's right, and hopefully we get a decent number of votes in the coming month! Also, for sake of clarification, there is not a choice in the poll regarding border restrictions being eased to allow for more bands to play across the border easily. That would no doubt be an asset and a neat attraction (like at the Superior Festival), but that's not something that musicians and fans can control, hence why I left it out. VOTE A.S.A.P., and stay tuned for more news soon! Thanks everyone!

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