Monday, January 23, 2017

The January Jam Concert Review!!

At last, here's my review of Saturday night's January Jam concert from Live705 at The Canadian Nightclub! Good turnout, if uneven, and the venue had it's usual fine layout, with the night's three final bands all selling merchandise at the door, including brand new buttons from A Dire Setback (including some that just said "Support Local Music", which is always a good message!)

After a 15 minute delay, the opening band on Saturday was indie/acoustic trio The Autumn Roots in their first show of the year, wherein the band debuted new second guitarist Chase Wigmore (Coyote Speedfreaks), who was a former bandmate of frontman Jeremy Hannah's in The North Shore. Solid addition, and even unplugged, you got a sense of Chase's guitar abilities, and it's nice to see him back on stage! The band also parted ways with drummer Travis St. Amour last month, and have not (yet?) replaced him, though for what it's worth, the band interestingly noted that last night was their first "official" concert. Well, I saw them on Halloween, and while the lack of a drummer was noticeable, they kept things going from last fall with a solid set of folk rock originals like "The North", "Falling Down", and "The Sink". Jeremy's well-suited vocals complimented the music, he and Chase continue to mesh well on guitar, and Greg Carscadden was solid on bass, if somewhat reserved. Look for much more from The Autumn Roots in 2017!

Next up was the local debut of Ottawa electronic solo project Sleepwellcity, featuring former local punk/alternative bassist Nathan Bouliane in his long awaited homecoming. It was great to see Jonna Maximilian himself back on a local stage, but how did Sleepwellcity sound? Well, they are truly a one man band, with Nathan playing keyboard, drum machine, and bass throughout their set, not to mention utilizing a computer throughout, and also singing, so he had a lot on his plate! Nathan is multi-talented, as fans of his local and recent music will attest, but the Sleepwellcity set had some glitches. Early in the set, there was some type of computer malfunction that ground everything to a halt for a whike, and the timing and clarity of some musical elements could have been polished better. As well, vocals were very low in the mix, so it was hard to get a full idea of how he is as a singer. Sleepwellcity are an intriguing project with something of a dreamlike quality at times, and it'd be interesting to see Nathan bring this project back home!

Third was newer punk/metal trio Stegadeth in their Canadian Nightclub debut, and they continued in their upward momentum from late last year with another well received set! Along with covers of the likes of The Ramones, Blink-182, Nirvana, and their predecessor band T-Rex Manning, this power trio unveiled their first true original song, entitled "Kingdom of Ashes", which sounded good and fits in with their sound! As well, the band dedicated their cover of SNFU's "Fate" to late local punk frontman Guy Thiffault, which was a nice touch! If you saw Stegadeth at Guy's tribute show over the holidays, then you'll be glad to know that they were on form from that concert, with Tiffany Stocco gaining more confidence as a singer, Daniel MacDonald keeping the energy going on drums, and Bill Bennett delivering a forceful presence of his own (his vocals are channeling Nate Olp from Demiricous a bit, just in a punk style.) Stegadeth are building things nicely so far, and here's to more!

Fourth on the night was local alternative/hard rock trio The Din, who were still riding high from their Toronto gig a few weeks back, and they were in their usual fine form! Alongside established hits like "Potato" & "Out Of My League", The Din covered The Tragically Hip's "Blow At High Dough" and played a handful of newer songs, like "High Park" and "Suburban Dream", which got a good reception from fans, who were increasingly starting to crowd the floor by the stage. Mike Haggith continues to showcase a fine ease as frontman, and even joined fans mid-song as if often seen, while Tammy Hill and Brandan Glew handled the guitar and drums as well as you'd expect! I did notice that there wasn't as much on-stage banter as we have seen at recent Din shows, but musically, their alt-hard rock originals sounded as good as ever, and it'll be interesting to see how things shape up this year!

Co-headlining were new local punk quartet A Dire Setback in their second Canadian gig, and they delivered a fun set of their own! Showcasing a lot of energy (especially on the part of guitarist Chris Nielsen), A.D.S. played original songs like "Wasting Away" and "Kicking & Screaming" alongside their punk version of OneRepublic, and with the night's peak crowd, they played it up and delivered a solid attack of alt-punk action! Vocals could be hard to hear at times for both Chris and frontman Larry Babic, but they have a good command of the stage, as fans of members' old bands can attest, and Nick Kainula's drumming was on point as well! A Dire Setback have sure accomplished a lot in a short time, already hosting two big concerts and performing a number of originals, and if they can keep this up, they'll be a force this year!

And finally, your headliners were local post-punk/garage rock quartet Gnaeus, and despite a drop-off in crowd numbers following A Dire Setback's set, they sent remaining fans home happy with their skilled originals! Starting with an extended improvised instrumental jam, Gnaeus soon launched into established originals like "The Sound", "Electricity", and "Fire", plus a lengthy new song named "È La Vita" (Italian for "That's Life") that visibly got a good reception! Heisenberg... I mean, Aaron Alessandrini was his usually reliable self on vocals and guitar, with Brad Irwin complimenting him well on the synth, Matt Fronzi was a positive and skilled presence on bass, and Alex Proulx is fitting in more & more on drums! It's a shame that so many fans left before their set, but alas, things did get delayed a half hour from advertised set times, but if you stayed, you weren't disappointed

Overall, The January Jam was a solid concert for fans of alternative and punk music, complete with new and familiar faces in equal measure, and kudos to Live705 for putting this one on! As you no doubt noticed, Shaw TV was on hand filming bands all night for a presumed future On Stage episode and perhaps interview features, while Josh Pace Photography was on hand taking pictures of the bands, and we will give Josh a proper feature on the site in the next while, I promise! I did get photos myself, which you can see at this link or via our Facebook page, but due to a combination of those reflective paint road signs on the stage's back wall and not wanting to get in the road of the Shaw cameras, the quality of mine is mixed. As for our videos, here's The Autumn Roots playing "Means & Circumstance", Sleepwellcity playing "Bombs", Stegadeth covering The Rebel Spell's "All We Want Is To Be Left Alone", The Din playing their new song "Up In The Air", A Dire Setback playing their new original "Faded", and Gnaeus playing their new song "È La Vita"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and updates tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

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