Thursday, December 29, 2016

Guy Thiffault Benefit Concert Review!!

At last, it's time to review Tuesday's benefit concert in memory of late Hangdowns frontman Guy Thiffault at The Rockstar Bar, and apologies for the delay in getting this on the site, we had to re-upload two videos, and with weekend concert previews earlier today, I didn't want everything lost in the shuffle. Despite being held on barely a week's notice on a work night (and from 6:00 PM-midnight to boot), The Rockstar Bar was sufficiently packed with friends and colleagues of Guy's, and while the opening two bands didn't get a huge crowd on the floor, AlgomA started bringing fans closer, and by the time of the headliners' set, it was a packed herd of raucous fans! A Dire Setback frontman Larry Babic bought lots of pizza to sell at the event, while Rotbottyrot bassist Brenton Ellis raffled off a painting of his that was autographed by all of the night's performers, with all proceeds from both sales going to the Thiffault family, which was a great gesture!

Headliners aside, each band only played for about 30 minutes each, but a lot was packed in to this concert, so let's begin our review proper with the Rockstar Bar (and non-Live705) debut of new local alternative punk band A Dire Setback, who left a good impression on early fans! Playing a selection of original songs like "Catastrophe" alongside a punked-up cover of OneRepublic's "Counting Stars", this union of 2000s punk veterans delivered a solid package of high energy punk that would be right at home at an Oddfellows Hall show of that era. Larry Babic still has a melodic soaring voice that A.F.F.I. fans will appreciate, while guitarist Chris Nielsen was an energetic compliment, Matt Quinn handled bass well (though he could have been more animated), and a gloved Nick Kainula was on form on drums, adding up to a nice first personal look at A Dire Setback! They're familiar yet full of potential, and it'll be interesting to see what they have in store next!

Second were new local punk/metal trio Stegadeth in their second ever live concert appearance, so how did the T-Rex Manning successors sound? If you're familiar with that band's old side project Pools of Booze (which contained an identical lineup to Stegadeth), then that's what we basically have here, but there were a few differences. Setlist wise, Stegadeth traded The Misfits for The Ramones, covering two of their songs and Motorhead's homage "R.A.M.O.N.E.S.", while also covering G.G. Allin, Blink-182, and SNFU (no Volbeat though.) T-Rex Manning fans, however, were treated to the return of that band's lone original "She Banged The Mayor", so if you've missed hearing that live in the past two years, Stegadeth have revived it! Like he did in Pools of Booze, Bill Bennett sang lead vocals, and has improved the grit and intensity of his singing since then, but we also got to hear guitarist Tiffany Stocco on more lead vocals (she can sing, but needs to be louder.)

Stegadeth were rough around the edges at times, but it's great to see Bill, Tiffany, and Daniel back together, and while it may not be Rex Manning day anymore, Stegadeth have a solid punk base and pre-existing chemistry that should serve them well going into the new year!

Next was local doom/sludge metal trio AlgomA in, as hard as this is to believe, their first ever concert at The Algonquin Hotel (they haven't even played downstairs yet!) As usual, they let the music do the talking, playing a short set of slow but crushing original material, which seemed to largely skew towards newer songs. I will say that a band with songs of this length and speed doesn't lend itself well to a half hour timeslot, but AlgomA were the first band to attract a sizeable crowd on the floor, so they did their job and got fans' attention! Kevin Campbell and Boyd Rendell were ferocious on vocals, as you'd expect, and the feedback and distortion-laden songs were dripping in torment, so fans of their crushing originals were happy, even if it felt like they were done before they really started. Stay tuned for more on their upcoming split with Hooded Menace!

Afterwards, the teased "special performance" of songs by Guy's old bands Nebraska Arms & The Business Suit Trappers, so what was this? How does one-off reunions of both bands sound? Nebraska Arms were up first in their first live performance in over six years, with Wayne Watkins, Dave Prendergast, and Adam Sauve joined by Guy's former Bondar bandmate Mark Rand on bass (fitting choice!) Wayne took over on lead vocals, as Northwest fans will be familiar with, and it was great to see one last Nebraska Arms performance in Guy's memory on Tuesday! Afterwards, The Business Suit Trappers reunited for two songs, with Adam & bandmate Mike Yakasovich joined by Wayne again and Guy's former Crawfather bandmate Clint Wilson on bass (B.S.T. guitarist Greg Callaghan was unable to attend.) Though only a partial Trappers reunion, it was nice to hear their folk/indie originals one final time, and both Wayne and Mike handled vocals well for the second half! Guy would be proud, I'm sure of it!

Adam Sauve stuck around for the next set, the second post-reunion appearance of his punk band Talk Shit, so what did we see from them? Lineup wise, he was joined by new singer/guitarist Steve Shaw and guitarist Marc LaFrance, plus the aforementioned Mark Rand filling in for the absent Ian Robinson on bass, though Steve had to bow out midway through due to work commitments. Talk Shit stuck to a covers-only set of punk classics from bands like SNFU, Bigwig, and The Bouncing Souls, and they sounded similar to the old days, though Steve did add a little extra as lead singer on most songs! It's a shame Ian couldn't be there, but Mark was right in his element on bass, and Adam was a solid presence on drums as you'd expect! After Steve left, the remaining three played a suite of Hangdowns songs like "Red Top" & "Separation Anxiety", which predictably got a great reception from fans, and hopefully we hear more from the reunited Talk Shit in 2017!

(For what it's worth, original Talk Shit guitarist Andrew Angelic did attend this concert, but did not perform with his old band on Tuesday. Disappointing, but hopefully he brings his current London band Rattlesnake Hotel to the Soo in the future, as he's been missed on the local stage!)

Then we had Edmonton hardcore punk band Rotbottyrot (a.k.a. Blood Guy), who were a big unknown to me, so what can be said about them? A lot, in fact! While their original run(s?) isn't well documented online, this was apparently their first show in 8 years, and at least in this current incarnation, their lineup was entirely comprised of Saultites, including singer/author Mat Laporte, AlgomA drummer Jamie Vincent on guitar, Lion Ride/Maximum RNR alum Brenton Ellis on bass, and former Bottom Half/Stripped Of His Wings drummer James Moss. Despite being one of the night's biggest wild cards, Rotbottyrot delivered a chaotic and intense set codified by Mat's intense stage presence, which drifted from masked fury and crowd engagement to laying on the floor like a lit powderkeg. Originals like 'Double Punch" and "Bottle Guy" were well received, and everyone fit in well for this performance,which would be cool to see repeated if possible, as they definitely left their mark!

Co-headlining on Tuesday were hardcore punk quintet Destroilet in their first live concert appearance in over a year, though members did downplay the return a bit by noting that they haven't jammed much recently.  Honestly, it barely showed, as Destroilet were at their usual furious old school best for their set, with originals like "End Me" and "Bamberg Witch Prison" showcasing that they haven't lost a step over the past 14 months As is sadly often the case, Mike Hull was extremely hard to hear, but John Conway and Christian Foisy continue to compliment each other well on guitar, and Matt Waples kept the rhythm going fast and heavy on drums! The arguable highlights were Destroilet's last two songs, including their fan favourite "Eternal Fire", with numerous guest singers hopping on stage or near microphones to sing along, which was a great sight! Destroilet are back, and hopefully we're not waiting until 2018 for their next show!

And finally, the headliners on Tuesday were local punk supergroup Bin Hawdon & The Taliband, hitting the stage for the first time in eight years! Frontman Mikey Hawdon, guitarist Lucas Schmiedendorf, and bassist Mark Rand were joined by the aforementioned Clint Wilson on drums for their set (Aaron Mooney lives out of province now), and they were in fine form for the wildest, longest, and most crowded set of the night! Playing a selection of punk classics from bands like The Ramones, The Misfits, and many, many more, The Taliband were in fine form for fans of their energetic and old school blend of punk covers, and they were certainly dressed for the occasion! Unfortunately, there was a mishap or two involving attendees near the stage, which forced some extra security and announcements to the crowd, but the show went on and by & large, everyone had a great time, as all of the guest singers and dancers will attest, especially on their set-ending cover of The Hangdowns' "Fireban"!

Overall, this was a very entertaining and emotional concert, whether you were a friend or bandmate of Guy's or not, and it's beyond awesome that so many musicians and organizers could bring this concert together in basically a week! This concert shouldn't have had to happen, but I know Guy would have had a blast if he was around to see it! Mikey noted on Facebook yesterday that they raised $4,500 for the Thiffault family at the concert and the GoFundMe online fundraiser combined, which is awesome, and kudos to all involved for coming together at this difficult time! You can check out our photos from the show at this link or via our official Facebook page, and after some issues with our first couple of video uploads, everything is in working order now! Here's our videos, including A Dire Setback playing their song "Wasting Away", Stegadeth covering Nirvana's "Breed", AlgomA playing a song whose name wasn't announced (let us know if you can title it!)...

...Nebraska Arms playing "I Was A Writer", The Business Suit Trappers playing "I'm A Baby", Talk Shit covering NOFX's "Don't Call Me White", Rotbottyrot playing "Bag", Destroilet playing "It's Over", and Bin Hawdon & The Taliband covering Face To Face's "Disconnected"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more weekend concert previews and our 2016 recap post soon! Thanks everyone!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Haha, Quinn from ADS would probably be more animated if he didn't have a broken foot.