As usual, we'll start with big headlining concerts at major local venues, and the year got off to a good start when The Tea Party returned to Sault Ste. Marie on March 27th at The Machine Shop with The Proud Sons in tow! Yoopers had to wait until June 29th for their first major date of 2019 under the Kewadin Casino umbrella, albeit in St. Ignace, where Slaughter and Autograph gave fans a good old hair scare. Sault Michigan got spoiled on August 3rd when Pop Evil, Buckcherry, and Joyous Wolf rocked their Kewadin branch in a rare outdoor concert, but the biggest events came in November, starting with Muddfest on the 1st, where Puddle of Mudd, Saliva, Trapt, Saving Abel, and Tantric hit The Dreammakers Theater. On November 19th, Sault Ontario got a punk blast from The Offspring, Sum 41, and Dinosaur Pile-Up at GFL Memorial Gardens, while the year ended via local classical metal band Theatre of Night's Christmas tour stop at The Dreammakers Theater on December 14th. Look for more huge shows ahead!
Anvil, B.A. Johnston, Black Crown Initiate, The Cancer Bats, Cross Dog, Dave Evans, The Faps, K-Man & The 45s, The Killer Dwarfs, Michale Graves, Monster Truck, Random Killing, Striker, White Cowbell Oklahoma, and Who Made Who this year, among many, many others. Local concert festivals and annual events like Rotaryfest, Toystock, J.D. Pearce's Halloween Party, Go Skateboarding Day, and the Oh!No festival (in it's last installment in Leeburn) returned with heavier acts again, while The Rising Tide brought punk to the Go North Music Festival, 7 local bands played across both floors of the Joni Radford memorial concert in March, and The Apocalypse Afterparty made an impressive finals run in this year's The Soo's Got Talent competition. It was hard to sum up the entire year in a paragraph, but hopefully there's more big names on the way in the new year!
Sault Michigan had it's share of live hard rock concerts too, even if things weren't as busy as in Ontario. As usual, linked Traverse City hard rock groups Peril & Scarkazm came up north for numerous well received Kewadin lounge gigs, but otherwise, most of the heavier live performances in the E.U.P. this year were from local bands. Kinross' own Banned played their final concerts in the first quartet of 2019, before their successors Tarnished began their own busy slate of acoustic and full-band concerts this summer (including the Sugar Island Music Festival), while frontman Alex Traynor played a few solo gigs of his own along the way. Also this year: Project 906 maintained a reduced schedule for their live dates (including the Rudyard Musicians Festival), 415E reunited with a new lineup for scattered Kewadin concerts, and Highway 63 kept busy with their own gigs and the launch of their Mackinaw Trail side project. Here's hoping things are even busier in 2020!
The past year was loaded with major news and events relating to the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene, with notable bands like Coral Fang, The Guitar Gangsters, Jack Spades, Mike Haggith, Northwest, Parabol, Tarnished, Theatre of Night, and Treble Charger all hitting the road for notable gigs outside of the E.U.P./district. 2019 was a year of change for local music stores, with Northland & Thomas Walls merging operations as the local Long & McQuade branch, Crooked Music moving across the road, and The Rad Zone leaving the Wellington Square Mall, while live musical productions of Rock of Ages and We Will Rock You entertained local audiences at different scales. Readers mourned the passings of Joni Radford, Kayge Fowler, and Danger Cats alum Summer Stevens, while the Soo area also lost Reggie's Place, Studio 10, and The Tech, and concerts featuring Drowning Pool, Bobaflex, and Love 'n Revenge were all cancelled, as well as three different battles of the bands.
However, there were other good news stories in 2019, such as the return of the Northern Film Showcase, music video releases from A Dire Setback & Mike Haggith, Dryer Fire's two pop-up runs as a live venue on Bruce Street, Six, Two, Oh.'s re-branding as the Oh!No Collective, and don't forget about the launch of the Music City Sault Ste. Marie project and all of the ambitious plans that entails. I'm sure 2020 will be just as eventful as 2019!
This year saw a number of local metal & hard rock album releases, primarily from solo musicians, and none had a busier year than Chase Wigmore, whose extreme metal project Awokest put out their compilation debut "Enter The Nightlands" in January, followed by "Solving The Human Condition" in April. Later still, Chase's own folk/punk studio album "Songs To Punch Yourself In The Face To" came out earlier this month, with the surprise "One Last Act Of Defiance" following days later! Also this year: Crucify The Whore released their new album "Crucifiction Inquisition", while the soundtrack to the movie Ashes of K (featuring songs by Mike Haggith) also dropped this year. The Sault Michigan area saw Heavy Lies The Crown's debut album "Scatter Brain" & Tarnished frontman Alex Traynor's own CD "Crazy World" go on sale, while we unusually saw two 2019 releases (Mike McCleary's "Propaganda Model" & Black Cloud's "Abstract Sounds") pulled from online storefronts within months. Hopefully there's more new CDs to come soon!
A handful of notable local bands debuted outright or on stage in 2019, with none playing more frequently in the area than Sault Michigan hard rock band Tarnished, whose weekly Biggby Coffee matinees and assorted other electric and unplugged gigs have given them a solid profile in short order! The E.U.P. also welcomed Highway 63 side project Mackinaw Trail this year, while former Werehold Records head Jason Mills resurfaced with his new solo project X's & Y's, and the aforementioned Heavy Lies The Crown made their live debut, albeit downstate. In Sault Ontario, punk supergroup The Sick Sons got a big jump via major opening slots in late 2019, while Volbeat cover band The Guitar Gangsters stole the show at the Halloween Party, the online page-less Stoned To Deaf and the already-defunct Black Cloud played their first public gigs, and new southern hard rock quartet Fort Creek launched in their own right. Hopefully we hear much more from this talented rookie crop of bands in 2020!
The Soo Fighters, who replaced Jeremey Salatuk, John & Jonny Amendola with Wes Greco, Max Ambeault, and Jonas Gasperas in time for their Halloween Party set. Don't feel too bad for the Amendolas though, as they took over for Sean Berlinguette & Brian Egglesfield in the reunited Tripod the Dog this year! Meanwhile, Sault Michigan's 415E welcomed Brett Blackwood & Jason VanLuven upon their reunion, while Highway 63 parted ways with keyboardist Brian Drumheller and switched from Justin Lawless to Russell Mayer to Ron Suchey behind the kit. Also this year: Redundant split with bassist James White, Cameron Oliver replaced Travis Sharpe as Soundcheck's frontman, and second bassist Alice Rose joined the unmasked Apocalypse Afterparty, among other lineup changes in local bands this year!
This year largely a quiet one for local band breakups, with the most prominent arguably being Kinross, Michigan classic/hard rock trio Banned, who dissolved this summer, predicating the launch of Alex's new band Tarnished. We also saw the aforementioned Black Cloud suspend operations mere months after their album release, and Halfway Loaded appear to have stepped aside in favour of Fort Creek, but most of the other potentially defunct bands have just quietly fell into inactivity, and could be acknowledged as such in 2020. Among others: Stegadeth side project Poison Girl haven't been publically heard from since Tiffany moved out of town, the planned February reunion of This Is Your Band On Drugs never took place, and such groups as The Billy Bastards, Brutally Fatal, Destroilet, Handsome Sandwich, Id Iota, Rotopsy, and Winkstinger have not issued a new public update on band activity since the first half of 2019 (or earlier.) Hopefully everyone stays musically active!
The Inner City Surfers' first concert in
Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, 2019 was a solid year for the SMS, and here's to another big year ahead as we kick off a new decade! Thanks to everyone for your support, and watch for our annual forecast post on the year ahead tomorrow, with our first batch of weekend concert previews following on Thursday! Thanks everyone!