Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gorod/Bookakee Concert Review, Plus Winkstinger & Them Lineup Changes!!

Before we get into this concert review post, I wanted to apologize for missing a concert in this weekend's concert previews, as local party hard rock cover trio Stiffler's Mom played a one nighter at The Rockstar Bar last night. The show slipped us by after the band announced it on Wednesday, and while we did plug the show on our Facebook page late last night, missing it on here is a bad error on my part. Profuse apologies, I'll make sure we have a wider eye on Stiffler's Mom's next show! Now, let's tackle our review of Friday's Gorod/Bookakee show at The Oddfellows Hall, which had a solid attendance (especially for Bookakee's set), so let's kick things off with the late-added openers, local grind/thrash metal band Them! This was the first time I've seen them live, their first show of the year, as well as their first since their most recent lineup changes, as they have quietly parted ways (for the second time each) with guitarist Chase Wigmore and bassist Rainey Vincent. Reasons for their departures were not announced online or at the show, but hopefully things are amicable, and that we see Chase and Rainey back on stage at some point soon!

At least at this point, neither have been replaced in the band, so add Them to the increasingly large roster of two man bands in the area, but frontman Tyler St. Amour and drummer Anthony Boudreau compliment each other well, laying down some heavy if minimal metal action on Saturday! Bookending originals like "Moosejaw Boudreau" & "Slaughterhouse Blues" with covers of Green Jelly and (I believe) Red Fang, Them are a work in progress from a live setting, with awkward pauses being a bit too frequent, and Tyler seemed a little nervous and quiet between songs. Musically, they sounded solid and they fit their genres well, but vocals were very hard to hear on most songs (and completely absent on "March Into Regression"), and bass would be a benefit at times. That said, Them have the talent and promise, and hopefully Tyler & Anthony keep at it and play live more often!

The next band was supposed to be reunited local extreme metal band Winkstinger in their first public concert set since opening for Sleep When You're Dead at The Oddfellows Hall in May 2013, but they did not end up playing due to scheduling delays. According to drummer Jonas Gasperas after the show, a band member wasn't off work in time for their planned set after Them, and there wasn't time to slide them into a later timeslot or after Gorod finished. This is disappointing, especially given the near three year wait for Winkstinger to play a public concert again, but hopefully we see them back in the near future! However, as a teaser of what to expect when they do play live next, I can confirm that their new lineup features Jonas and guitarist Jesse Cook alongside Free Beer alum Keith Gagnon on vocals (replacing Alan Wells) and Scary Uncles alum Andrew MacDonald on bass (replacing Jason Bourcier), while the rhythm guitar position is, as far as I can tell, still vacant.

It's great to see Andrew back in a live band again, and while Keith has some singing experience from past bands, how does he stack up as an extreme metal vocalist? Hopefully we'll find out in short order, so stay tuned to the SMS and Winkstinger's Facebook page for future updates!

With that said, the aforementioned Jesse Cook still played next with his punk/metal quintet Jack Spades in their first non-battle of the bands set of the year, and they proceeded to jack the planet (and hall) with a fun set that fans easily took to! Playing originals like "They Live", "Crossroads", and "Motorwolf" alongside Turbonegro and Ripcordz covers, everyone was generally on form from past shows, aside from an aborted attempt at "Fear Corps" late in their set. That aside, my biggest issue was that the vocals were, like with Them, very muffled and quiet, but J.D. Pearce sounded good when you could hear him through the music, and Jesse and Tiffany Stocco were strong as expected on guitar! Good energy from all involved, with J.D. exploring the hall during songs, and a positive fan reception throughout, so hopefully Jack Spades are back soon, and kudos to J.D. for putting this concert on!

Montreal progressive/theatrical death metal quintet Bookakee co-headlined in their second local concert, and you can tell that word of mouth from the Benighted concert last year has paid off, as a huge crowd saw a set you had to see to believe! I could just spend all day talking about their theatrics and stage show, beyond anything you ever typically see at The Oddfellows Hall, with singer Phil Langelier proceeding to filet his face on two occasions, perform on on-stage abortion, murder Donkey Kong(?!) with a chainsaw which showered front row attendees with blood, and even spray everyone with silly string to end their set! If you saw Bookakee last year, you know what to expect, but it was a blast to see all of this live! The band wore costumes and masks (which were shed mid-set), but with or without them, their progressive-tinged death metal stood on it's own even without the theatrics, with SP Gagnon a very talented guitarist, and Jo David was a powerhouse on bass too! Bookakee rocked beyond measure, and if you weren't there, you missed out!

Despite having a tough act to follow, French progressive death metal quintet Gorod delivered a devastating set of their own to close the night! Playing songs spanning their entire career (including from their newest CD "A Maze of Recycled Creeds"), Gorod played with aggression and a solid stage presence, with frontman Julien "Nutz" Deyres showcasing brutal growling and a natural ease and command of the stage, which served him well for their last few songs, after his microphone stopped working. Rather than stop the show or complain, Gorod powered through, with Julien continuing to sing sans-mic, while basically turning from frontman to conductor of the death metal orchestra, never missing a beat. Mathieu Pascal & Nicholas Alberny were solid and very skilled on guitar throughout, and Karol Diers' technical, fast drumming was a perfect compliment! Despite the technical difficulties, fans rightfully called for an encore, a solid capper for Gorod's awesome set!

Overall, this was a great concert with a double-header of brutal headliners and two entertaining local bands, and despite early muffled vocals, Gorod's microphone issues, Winkstinger's lost set, and the unfortunate fate of Donkey Kong, I know fans will be clamoring for Gorod & Bookakee to come back to the Soo in short order, and I concur! You can check out our photos from the show at this link or at our Facebook page, and as for our videos, here's Them playing their instrumental "March Into Regression", Jack Spades playing "Negative Headspace", Bookakee playing "Monarch of the Depraved", and Gorod playing "Celestial Nature"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for last month's poll results and our newest poll tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

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