Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Faps Concert Preview, New Steel Panther Videos, And More!!

In what may be our last news post of July 2019, we are tackling some new YouTube video discoveries (some more belated than others), but leading off, here's a preview of a special Wednesday night concert for you punk fans!

Saskatchewan "post-gar(b)age-punk" duo The Faps will return to Sault Ste. Marie TOMORROW NIGHT when they rock Dryer Fire's pop-up summer venue at 123 Bruce Street! The second stop on The Faps' current Ontario tour, this will be Blair & Skyler's sixth local concert appearance, and first since rocking The New A in April, though this gig at Dryer Fire's temporary homefront may represent new ground for many fans of theirs.  With their intense, fan-engaging, and often intriguingly dressed live show making many local fans in the last few years, hopefully the mid-week placement doesn't scare off too many possible attendees! Local surf rock instrumental quartet The Dynowaves (featuring Brent "Slumshine" Ellis from April's Faps show) will open tomorrow's proceedings with their own proficient and unique originals, so don't miss them either! Promoted in-house by Dryer Fire, this is an ALL AGES concert with a $10 cover and a 7:00 PM start time.

While the Wednesday evening scheduling is unfortunate, The Faps are a proven attraction locally now, and their hard hitting minimalist punk attack should attract new and old fans alike at Dryer Fire tomorrow, so don't miss out on this show if you can help it! Visit the official Facebook event page for more details, and here's The Faps live!

Next up, here's some surprising new discoveries: More video footage from the Steel Panther concert at The Dreammaker's Theater at the Sault Michigan Kewadin Casino back in December! One video was only posted online in June, as filmed by attendee Brad Madigan for his YouTube channel, marking his first upload from a local concert. This captures the first 15 minutes of the Los Angeles glam/comedy metal quartet's headlining set, which (after a sampled recording of Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some") featured their songs "Eyes of a Panther" and "Goin' In The Backdoor", before bantering, joking, and jamming for the remainder of the clip. Musically, Steel Panther (and guest bassist Spyder) sound like their usual entertaining and ribald self, which definitely extends into the post-song bantering, and the impressive crowd is certainly on board! Brad got a great front row view of the band and audience, with only a speaker on stage breaking things up.

I don't know what took so long to post this video online, but if you love hair metal and enjoy very adult humour, Steel Panther will be right up your alley, and this video captures them in their element, so give it a look below!

The other belated Steel Panther video comes from attendee Brandan Penno, whose video of Steel Panther covering Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" is his only upload on YouTube to date, as posted in April. Clever and amusing touch having frontman Michael Starr perform while dressed as Ozzy himself and acting like him on stage, even seeming addled and confused like he often came across on The Osbournes. The cover's solid and lively, and Brandan got a nice zoomed-in view of the front of the stage, so give it a look below also!

Finally, here's SooToday's brief video feature from last month's Go Skateboarding Day festivities at Queen Elizabeth Park in Sault Ontario, as posted onto SooToday staffer (and ex-Garden of Bedlam drummer) Derek Turner's YouTube channel! I have no idea why this isn't on SooToday's proper channel. As was the case in their prior video features from this annual event, there's no audio of any bands, as skateboarding is the focus, though you do briefly see The Cover-Up playing atop the big ramp 22 seconds in. Derek himself does not feature on camera, but the video features co-organizer and Id Iota frontman Christian Lemay promoting the event and it's goals in a one-sided interview, though given his long-time association with Shaw TV, it is very odd to see him holding a SooToday microphone. Go Skate Day is a great event to promote skateboarding with new and old athletes alike, and hopefully this year's installment was a hit as usual! Give SooToday's video a look below, and here's to 2020!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for weekend concert previews and more very shortly! Thanks everyone!

Monday, July 29, 2019

Awokest - "Solving The Human Condition" Album Review!!

It's now time for our 121st monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and after a three month detour into the local music archives, we're looking at a new release for the first time since March, and in a mild surprise, that album is local experimental/death metal solo project Awokest's debut paid studio album "Solving The Human Condition"! Quietly & independently released to their Bandcamp page on April 19th in conjunction with a better publicized free YouTube copy, this is the paid follow-up to January's compilation album "Enter the Nightlands", though this album appears to exclusively contain new recordings. Awokest is represented here by solo artist Chase "Dick Jerkins" Wigmore, and if there are other collaborators as have been teased in prior Awokest descriptions, they are not credited. Unlike it's predecessor, "Solving The Human Condition" is on sale on a "name your price" model, and while this means you can buy it for free, consider paying something to support Chase's work!

Song names below are linked to their Bandcamp copies, and I believe there have been references towards a physical CD pressing of this album too, so contact Chase or see him/Awokest in concert for details in that regard. With 12 songs running for 54 minutes, let's kick off our second Awokest CD review at the SMS! The album starts off with "Real Fucking Thoughts" (he titled it, not me!), which is hard to describe, but it's more or less an extended sample-laden intro that gradually gets more and more sinister before devolving into an electronic music stretch after about 2:30, before closing with a minute of eerily cheerful music set to what sounds like someone being beat up, plus commercial samples (I recognized an old Concerned Children's Advertisers PSA.) Metalheads will like Chase's background screaming after his ominous thoughts. This track works as a stream of consciousness opener, and it's very creative, but if you're looking for true metal, I guarantee you that's ahead.

Second is the song "Machine God of Hate", and this fully brings things into Awokest's extreme metal wheelhouse! This is an intense jackhammer of a song that owes a lot to black metal in it's grand nature and Chase's high shrieking vocals, though it still finds room for some electronic flourishes, like the beeping before the verses. Goodness knows, I don't know what the lyrics are, but he sure sells them! This song is a pure wall of noise, but it's well performed, brutally heavy, and would incite a mosh pit at any concert it'd be played at, so metalheads will want to take notice! That's followed by "And Then The Reign Came Down" (sic), which opens with an ominous, almost "You Can't Bring Me Down"-esque intro before chugging into a more reserved, atmospheric instrumental, with Chase's harsh vocals sounding more processed as a result. I wish this song was clearer and more in-your-face, as there is something here, but aside from the pair of drum-led breakdowns, it feels like it's being held back by the post-production.

Track #4 is "She Crawls Towards It", which feels more like a demo than it's predecessor tracks, with the song proper almost sounding like it was recorded on cassette tape, if that makes any sense. I like the melodic riff contrasting with the grimy, processed rhythm section, and the female backing vocals (is she the crawler?) are a nice touch, but Chase's vocals sound very muffled and are sometimes inaudible. Elements of this song work, and I wish it had a cleaner recording, but it gets the job done for electronic-tinged black metal if you can look past that! Next is the album's title track "Solving The Human Condition", which runs for an album-long 7+ minutes. Starting with sampled audio from an interview with serial killer Edmund Kemper, this song has a chaotic wall of noise appeal, and it has more of a groove to it than predecessor tracks, but vocals don't kick in until almost 3 minutes in. These are cleaner vocals, so if you like hearing the words, here you go!

I don't know that this song really needs to be 7 minutes long, as it doesn't really vary off of it's initial trajectory (maybe a solo would help), but the music is top notch, and Chase's drum tracks are fast and brutal to go along with everything! If you liked "Machine God of Hate", this will be an epic, if overly long follow-up! Then we have the under 2 minutes-long "Getting Away With Murder", which is not related to the Papa Roach song beyond the name. The album's first song with no vocals of any kind, this is a steady interlude with solid guitar plucking and restraint. I got a The Killers vibe at first, but the song never switched gears, if that makes any sense, and the progression gave the song an uneasy ambiance that definitely felt intentional. Hard to describe, it works for it's length, but it feels like an unfinished intro.

Seventh up is another longer track, "Rites of the Wendigo", whose name references a man-eating creature in Algonquian folklore. This has a catchy drum rhythm that never seems to let up (this is a good thing), but the vocals are very muddled into the music, and it's nigh impossible to make out any of the lyrics. This song has an intense folk metal quality before the breakdown around the 3:30 mark, but it eventually gets back into that groove sans more intense, evil screaming from Chase near the end. Like on the title track, I don't think this song needed to be as long as it is, as it just pounds and chugs along with not enough variance for my liking, but it works well otherwise! Then, we have "Behold Here Is A Man", which is only barely a song, as it appears to be an audio depiction of a murder and it's aftermath (even ending with a scream), with only light backing instrumentation and hushed spoken word vocals overtop reflecting the title. The dark nature of this track is hard to ignore, but if you want a proper "song", this ain't it.

Next is "Hunter By Blood", which brings back the assaulting extreme metal of prior tracks at full force, after an intro suggesting a physical assault. Like on earlier full-force songs, this has a chaotic black metal vibe, but the liberal usage of sampled sound effects can get in the road of the instrumentaton. Chase's shrieking is amped up and brutally intense as usual, and we get a rare guitar solo here too, albeit during a stretch with vocals. I like the guitar work and the strong bass, and the track hits you like a truck, but the ending with police sirens does come out of nowhere to a point. If you like metal, this is a massive highlight! Afterwards is the album's shortest track, the 95 seconds long "A Whole Lifetime Of Disappointment", which isn't a song at all, it's actually a spoken word rant from the viewpoint of a murderer who wishes millennials would put up more of a "challenge", and I'll leave it at that. This almost feels like a very blue stand-up routine, so take that for what you will.

The penultimate song on "Solving the Human Condition" is "Mark My Words", which opens with about 2 minutes of ominous background noise before fully kicking into an intense extreme metal attack like on "Hunter By Blood" and it's predecessors. This has more of a chaotic, experimental quality without subscribing to usual musical structure, and while I think there is some vocal work, it's heavily processed and nigh undecipherable. If you like a crushing wall of noise in your metal, this will do it, but I'd have liked some vocal input at least, and it's not something you're gonna be humming after. The album closes with "Feelin' Fine", which is a total 180° turn in sound from it's predecessor, almost like the storyline of songs' past has led to this as a coda or epilogue. It's a pleasant, cheerful instrumental with some synth input and psychedelic effects, and it's well performed, but it's such a jarring shift that you almost have to hear the whole album beforehand to appreciate it. Interesting closer, if nothing else!

So, what are my final thoughts on Awokest's first paid studio album? Even if Chase calls this a demo, it's a fully fleshed out demo that will appeal to fans of his heavier and more aggressive music! Though lyrics were not posted online, this does feel like a concept album about a murderer, so when you do hear discernible words, be prepared. If you can handle horror movie-esque lyrics, the album largely delivers the goods, especially if you like noise and black metal, with songs like "Machine God of Hate", "Mark My Words", and the title track delivering a crushing attack that doesn't want to let up! Chase puts his multi-instrumental talents to solid use, and he's never sounded more evil, but the album is uneven as it progresses through the story. The longest songs don't have to be that long, the shorter interludes don't stand on their own very well, and for such a talented guitarist as Chase is, I'm shocked we didn't get more guitar solos. The mix on some songs could have been improved too, as vocals could be very muddled on certain songs.

If you were disappointed that "Enter the Nightlands" was largely a compilation, and you wanted more of Awokest's newer brutal originals, "Solving the Human Condition" will make up for that, and hopefully Chase builds on this well when he finishes "Anima Sola", whether we ever hear it or not! Give this album a listen and/or buy it above, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review!As for next month, I'm currently leaning towards Black Cloud's debut album "Abstract Sounds", which came out earlier this month, but could there be a surprise contender? That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes on the site tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Love 'N Revenge & Seax), Plus New Soundcheck Videos!!

Here's a new news post for your Sunday afternoon reading, which is half devoted to new videos from a prominent local band on the covers circuit, but first, let's kick things off with two LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS featuring touring performers from years past!

Los Angeles arena rock/glam metal quartet Love 'N Revenge will return to Sault Ste. Marie when they headline at The Rockstar Bar on Saturday, August 24th! Many of you may recall seeing this band (fronted by ex-Rockarma singer Damon Kelly) when they opened for Dokken at what's now GFL Memorial Gardens back in September 2017, and fresh off of a tour run opening for The Bulletboys, they should have momentum on their side when they bring their Hair Scare-ready brand of original glam metal songs to a local audience once again! I know Love 'N Revenge were well received at the Gardens two years ago, but how will things go next month? The Facebook event page advertises former Syre drummer Jamie Constant as a special guest, and while specifics weren't given, it seems more likely that Jamie has a solo act of some kind, as he's not Love 'N Revenge's drummer. Syre were a big name as Canadian hair metal went back in the day, my uncle would be excited!

A 19+ show as usual for The Rockstar Bar, this concert will have a low $5 cover charge, and an early 8:00 PM start time is advertised. If you love hair and glam metal, you won't want to miss out on all of the action here next month, so visit the above links for much more on this intriguing concert!

Next up, Worcester, Massachusetts speed metal quintet Seax will make their local concert debut on Sunday, September 1st when they rock Soo Blaster! Touring in support of their new CD "Fallout Rituals", their fast paced NWOBHM-inspired sound, strong instrumentation, and liberal sprinkling of falsetto vocals should attract many old school metalheads in just over a month's time, and it's great to welcome Seax north of the border! Joining them on the Canadian/Pacific Northwest leg of the "Speed Inferno Tour 2019, pt. 2 is Montreal thrash metal trio Warsenal, who local fans may recall seeing as headliners at the third Swampstravaganza at The Oddfellows Hall back in August 2013. Though it's been a long 6 year wait for Warsenal's Sault Ste. Marie return, their grittier, intense brand of speed metal will serve as a worthy compliment here! Lastly, local death metal standouts The Bear Hunters (who opened for Warsenal locally in 2013) will kick off this show in their Soo Blaster (and 2019) debut!

Marking just their second live appearance since October 2017, it's great to see The Bear Hunters finally back on stage after another wait of far too long, so don't miss out then! Note that earlier advertising of an additional "special guest" has since been removed. Presumably promoted in-house at Soo Blaster, this 19+ show has a $10 cover charge at the door, and while an 8:00 PM start time is listed, the early start time isn't all that necessary, as this is the Labour Day long weekend, so many of us will be off work on Monday the 2nd. This should be a great night of fast paced metal intensity, so visit the official Facebook event page for more details!

We'll close today with new videos of local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck from a couple of recent shows of theirs! Six videos were posted onto drummer Glen Thomas' YouTube channel last week,  including three from their Thursday, July 18th headlining slot at Rotaryfest's Stage 1, where they covered Night Ranger's "Don't Tell Me You Love Me", Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands" (as also filmed for Chris Paci's channel), and as embedded below, Kenny Loggins' "Footloose." Largely filmed from the lawn in front of the Stage 1 seating, you do get a good angle of dancing fans, but the visual quality isn't great on these videos. The vertical camera angle and nighttime setting are part of it, but overexposed lighting doesn't help at all, and it's hard to make out any details as a result. Musically, these hold up, and the guys handle all three covers with aplomb, so give them a look above & below!

The other three new Soundcheck videos come from an Esquire Club concert two weeks ago, one which featured guest bassist Cory Valentine in lieu of Paul Belair. These videos include covers of Honeymoon Suite's "New Girl Now", an impromptu rendition of The Cult's "Wild Flower", and as embedded below, "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" once again. Mostly filmed on a stationary camera with some panning and scanning, the songs sound good again, and the horizontal camera is a huge help, but the washed out colours aren't optimal, and Terry and/or Cory are often cut off in frame. Give all of Glen's new Soundcheck videos a look above & below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this month's CD review and more in the coming days! Thanks everyone!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

YouTube Channel Profile Series: werehold's Channel

It's now time for this month's YouTube Channel Profile, as we continue our ongoing spotlight features on YouTube channels whose content is at least 50% devoted to local metal, hard rock, and/or punk music, in order for readers to watch some entertaining and relevant content and hopefully subscribe for possible further updates! This month's randomly selected channel will be a familiar sight for fans of local metal in the E.U.P., especially at their mid-2010s peak, so here's what you should know!
werehold's Channel (http://www.youtube.com/werehold)

Owner: Werehold Records founder Jason Mills, who's also well known as a multi-instrumentalist in numerous Sault Michigan area bands (all now inactive) that were signed to the label, including Life's Eclipse, Moss, Swampghas, The 1,000,000,000's Who Died, and Shatterhand.

Channel Timeline: Launched on April 14th, 2011; Videos posted from that day through March 2018

Channel Summary: Launched around the time of Werehold Records & Life's Eclipse's joint revival in the spring of 2011 (after both previously being active through the late 2000s), the Werehold YouTube channel would become the primary repository for new and old material from label acts, mostly on the metal spectrum, and many attached to albums that never received a contemporary paid release. Most of the 81 current uploads on the channel came from the nine Friday the 13th new music posting events held on every Friday the 13th (except one) between April 2012 and January 2017, largely comprised of audio recordings that were typically preceded with the Werehold logo and a title card for the song. A select few videos on the channel were for amusement factor and not related to local music, like this Star Wars video game parody that attracted over 1,100 views.

Why You Should Watch: This is a must watch channel for fans of Jason Mills' local music work as both an extreme metal guitarist and as one of the last major active proponents of local extreme metal in Michigan's Eastern Upper Peninsula, despite Werehold acts not being known for playing regular public concerts. I enjoyed a whole lot of Werehold's roster, even if many of the posted songs lacked vocals, and their roster deserves a lot more eyeballs than it got in it's original run or it's 2010s revival. However, note that both Werehold Records and all of it's signed musical acts have been publically dormant since early 2018 (earlier in the case of certain bands.) Also, note that this channel was not immune to certain old video deletions.

Our Recommended Videos To Check Out

Swampghas - Bog (sync up version): From 2011-2015, a prominent band on the Werehold roster was Swampghas, a then-reunited death/thrash metal trio featuring Jason Mills on lead vocals & bass alongside East Branch guitarist J.R. Johnson and Drayton Fever/ex-Half A Man drummer Doug Reed. During this second run, Swampghas was very active in studio, recording for an unreleased debut album named "The Raco Tower Incident", and in a Werehold rarity, they actually recorded a music video for their instrumental song "Bog", which was released in September 2011. The black & white video features assorted footage of the guys exploring a farm at nighttime, and there is an eerie ambiance to a lot of it if you can look past the heavy riffs. You also see J.R. & Jason jamming in a field, though faces appear to be obscured on purpose. A brutal song while it lasts, you can also see behind the scenes footage from the shoot at this link, and many full songs are posted on this channel as well.

Life's Eclipse - Welcome to the Vortex: The most popular Werehold video that is definitely focused on their musical acts is of their flagship metal band Life's Eclipse's short song "Welcome To The Vortex", which was to have been the lead single for their unreleased album "The Chemicals To Make You A Better Person", and was belated posted in July 2013. Full credits aren't given, but Life's Eclipse's last stated full lineup featured Jason Mills & Joe Semasky on guitar, Jason's brother David on bass, and Casey Amo on drums. Recorded in 1996 or 1997, this archival track showcases Life's Eclipse's pounding metal attack well, particularly with the riffs, though like most songs on this channel, it is an instrumental. If you like this song, there's plenty more from Life's Eclipse to hear on here from an assortment of older albums!

The 1,000,000,000's Who Died - Horrible Laughter (9 string song): As Werehold collaborator activity died down in the late 2010s, much of their 2017-2018 output revolved around Jason's own material, such as The 1,000,000,000's Who Died, his progressive death metal solo project that was comically billed from Isle Royale. This project was the most uploaded of the Werehold roster from 2014 onward, and showcased a more technical, intense style than many of Life's Eclipse's older tracks. "Horrible Laughter" was The Billions Who Died's apparent swan song from January 2018, and it makes great use of Jason's then-new 9 string guitar, which you can see him model in this actual video from that same winter. Jason also broke this guitar out for one preceding song, "Long Walk Upright."

I hope you guys liked this month's YouTube Channel Profile! This series will return on or around August 26th when we return to Sault Ontario for a double profile, as the first randomly selected channel we picked only had two distinct types of videos, so I randomly chose another channel with two videos much the same as each other to round things out. As such, we'll be looking at the YouTube channels of users paperclipprojectX (featuring 4 early videos from the band Haggith) and Thelilspirit (featuring a couple of notable covers from prolific local drummer T.J. Case.) Stay tuned for those then, and for more news and updates this weekend! Thanks everyone!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tym Morrison & Soundcheck), Plus Rotaryfest Fallout!!

Before we dive into this weekend's Sault Ontario hard rock concert previews, just a minor clarification. The Sault Music Newsletter Facebook page lists The Wyld Stallyns as playing at The Whiskey Barrel tomorrow night, but as best as I can tell, this is an accidental remnant of last week's concert preview post there, as the venue is actually hosting The Crossroad Magdalenes tomorrow (source here.) Now, let's dive into this weekend's non-Sault Michigan previews, including some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, one on SHORT NOTICE, plus some more fallout from Rotaryfest this past weekend!

Local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck will return to The Water Tower Pub for one night only TOMORROW NIGHT! Apologies for the short notice, Soundcheck only confirmed this show via their Facebook event page on Monday, though it was listed on this concert calendar shared on the aforementioned Sault Music Newsletter Facebook page as recently as July 1st. (Ignore the "SOUNDCHECK growlers" listing, it looks like a remnant of an Angry Joe & The Growlers gig was left in.) While not listed on Soundcheck's own 2019 concert calendar image from the winter, neither was their last show there in April, and if they can add on some bookings at this popular central venue, why not take advantage! A one nighter as usual for Water Tower Pub shows, this should be a fine way for Soundcheck to get back into a regular groove after their Rotaryfest headline set, so don't miss their solo headlining date there TOMORROW NIGHT! As usual, this is a 19+ gig with a 10:00 PM-ish start time and no announced cover charge. See above for more details, and here's Soundcheck live in a few different concerts!

Next up, let's go to Gliss Restaurant on Spring Street, where prolific local hard rock singer/guitarist Tym Morrison will continue his long-term weekly concert arrangement with matinee concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY! However, with a new month drawing ever closer, let's add his August slate of shows there to our concert calendar, as Tym is highly expected to keep rocking Gliss on August 2nd-3rd, 9th-10th, 16th-17th, 23rd-24th, and 30th-31st... but that's still not all! As it turns out, Tym also struck a deal to play matinee concerts at La Terrazza Franzisi in nearby Richards Landing (an hour southeast of the Soo on St. Joseph Island) every Sunday from July through September 8th, so we'll add his shows there THIS SUNDAY, and on August 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th to the site as well! He'll also be there for the first two Sundays in September, before the wharf-front restaurant closes for the season, but we'll cover those events next month, as we take Tym's regular weekly bookings a month at a time for ease of management.

Yes, this also means that Tym played at La Terrazza Franzisi on July 7th, 14th, and 21st, all having been missed for coverage on the SMS. I profusely apologize for those slipping us by, but aside from their Facebook event page, public promotion was minimal. Aside from a presumed accidental listing for this Saturday, all of Tym's Sunday shows (THIS SUNDAY included) are basically doubled up with four hour blocks at 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, so if you're there, you'll get lots of chances to hear his fan favourite covers! The Gliss shows (including this weekend's) are at 6:00 PM, and none have an announced cover. Click here and above for more details, and here's Tym live!

Also, here's our promised Rotaryfest fallout write-up, so what all went down musically that was made local news media in the past week? Well, The Sault Star's Brian Kelly was in attendance, getting photos during one-off Beatles tribute band Beatles '69's Stage 1set on Saturday, while also interviewing Ottawa musician & Stage 2 performer Jack Pine, among other articles and photos published online and in physical copies of the newspaper, so see above for those! Most relevant to our genre ranges is this pre-festival article where Brian interviewed Rotaryfest musical director Shaun Antler about the Woodstock theme for this year's Stage 1 lineups. Therein, Shaun revealed that bands were asked to cover two or three songs each that would have came from bands that played at Woodstock, which is a fitting tie-in to that classic festival! As well, the Saturday set from the one-off supergroup The Woodstock Show was seemingly done in stages featuring certain highlight performers leading the band for specific covers.

In particular, late replacement Liam Seymour led a suite of Jimi Hendrix covers, which will have interested anyone who remembers his early cover hard rock work, while Obsession singer Valerie Powley tackled Janis Joplin to end their set, plus Jefferson Airplane earlier on.  Sounds like everything went well with the Woodstock theme, and see above for all of The Sault Star's recent coverage! Despite sponsoring the Second Stage, SooToday's only article that explored either stage in depth was this one by Darren Taylor focusing on local indie punk quintet Northwest, who played on Stage 2. Along with six colour photos from their set, the article features remarks from frontman Wayne Watkins (with input from guitarists Greg Callaghan & Mike Yakasovich) about their set at the Rock on the River Festival in Timmins on Friday, their sound, their name's inspiration, and what drives them, especially as every band member is a father now. Solidly informative article, so give it a look at this link, and best of luck in Timmins!

Aside from one photo of an unidentified band setting up, Sault Online's photo album largely focused on the midway and vendors. Last but not least, I regrettably missed a later addition to the Stage 1 lineup, as Korah Collegiate school band Mustang Sally actually opened on Saturday at 12:00 PM, in their own second straight appearance at the festival. I severely apologize for missing that in our Rotaryfest coveragee, but hopefully the kids from "Sally" put on a great set once again! That's all for now, but stay tuned for this month's YouTube Channel Profile next! Thanks everyone!

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (Tarnished), A New Local Band, And Sault Michigan Weekend Concert Previews!!

This weekend's concert previews didn't seem like they'd be too eventful, but after a new local band turned up with lots of LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS, some on SHORT NOTICE, I'll have to drag this out into two posts. As such, I'll make this an all-Sault Michigan post and keep our Sault Ontario previews (namely Tym Morrison & Soundcheck) for a post either tonight or early tomorrow. Now, here's what you should know for hard rock this weekend in the E.U.P.!

New local classic/hard rock cover band Tarnished will return to Biggby Coffee in Sault Michigan for a fourth straight week TODAY with another acoustic matinee show for tips & coffee! Apologies for the short notice, this "every Thursday" run of shows from ex-Banned frontman Alex Traynor and bandmate Josh Fair is still new to us. As you may have noticed by the above link, Tarnished do indeed have an official Facebook page and are now in our active band links, so what should you know about them? Updates have only shown up there this week, but they are described as playing "a variety of classic/modern rock", and they are available for full band and acoustic sets. As such, they are only depicted on Facebook in their acoustic two man version, as seen at Biggby Coffee all month long on Thursdays, though when they debuted at the Kinross Speedpark, Project 906's Tommy Korcal was behind the drumkit. Given that Tarnished seem to be going all in with regional gigs, is this a sign that Alex has moved back to the Sault Ste. Marie area from Mount Pleasant full time?

If not, will he be able to juggle Tarnished and commitments there like he did with Banned in their last couple of years? We'll find out soon, one imagines. As for their concerts, they're pulling double duty again tomorrow, as Alex & Josh will be playing another special gig TONIGHT (apologies again for the short notice) as part of this year's third Ashmun Alive! festivals, with them playing outside of Phat Boutique at 559 Ashmun Street, just down the road from The Soo Theater. Expect lots of sales, vendors, and varied entertainment once again, and see above for details on that front! That is of course a FREE & ALL AGES event. As for their "every Thursday" run at Biggby Coffee, it makes sense to treat these like Tym Morrison's ongoing weekly matinee gigs in Sault Ontario, especially if Alex has moved back home long term, so we'll treat these a month at a time until/unless otherwise stated by Tarnished or the venue. As such, look for Alex & Josh there playing at Biggby Coffee for tips and coffee on August 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th also!

Also, Tarnished will take a road trip to Curtis (90 minutes west of Sault Ste. Marie) for a 6:00 PM matinee show next Wednesday, and while this is out of our 1 hour coverage range, it's great to see Tarnished picking up where Banned left off for travelling for certain gigs! TODAY'S and next month's likely Biggby Coffee gigs have very early 10:30 AM start times, and while there are no age limits or cover charges, tips are always encouraged here. Visit the Ashmun Alive! Facebook event page and the above links for more details! For a preview, we do have two new videos of Tarnished (in their unplugged, drummer-less form) to acknowledge, including this 26 second clip of Alex & Josh covering ZZ Top's "La Grange" at a private camping function in Sherman, which is 20 minutes northwest of Cadillac. This was filmed by attendee Abby Baker and shared on Alex's solo Facebook page, and it sounds good while it lasts!

Embedded below though is an interview and performance with Alex & Josh, which was conducted by Phat Boutique owner Tara Behlingkelgar outside of the store. In the video, the guys talk about how they formed Tarnished & what music they play, before plugging the Biggby Coffee series, and closing with a cover of Incubus' "Drive", then transitioning to Tara discussing news with the store proper. Aside from the implication that Alex & Josh will be seen at more Ashmun Alive! events (that series runs through August), there's nothing new to learn here, but the cover is well done with a strong melody! Give it a look below, and don't miss Tarnished live TODAY!

Finally, let's preview a pair of shows in the Eastern Upper Peninsula that had lots of advance notice, as Traverse City classic metal trio Peril will return to The Northern Pines Lounge at the St. Ignace Kewadin Casino for concerts TOMORROW & SATURDAY NIGHT! In an unusually quick turnaround for them, this will be Jeff, Adam, and Brooks' second concert weekend at this very Kewadin branch this month, so if you like Peril's old school cover action, and you missed out in St. Ignace three weeks ago, here's your second chance! For what it's worth, this concert calendar for Peril and their sister bands notes that Peril will not be seen anywhere in August, though given their 2/3rds identical lineup to Scarkazm, don't read into that too much. You can take in Peril's hard hitting classics tomorrow & Saturday at 9:00 PM, these are 21+ gigs, and there is no cover. See above for more details, and here's Peril live!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for our Sault Ontario weekend concert previews and more next! Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rotaryfest Concert Video Showcase!!

Before we dive into this weekend's concert previews, here's an all-video post from last week's Rotaryfest music lineups, as Christopher Paci's excellent YouTube channel features video of bands from all three days on both Clergue Park stages! Thanks to him for getting this footage, he's far too kind, especially in the muggy heat this past weekend! Yes, we have some local news media fallout to get to also, but that won't make the site until at least Friday. In chronological order, Chris started his channel's new content by filming local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck covering Styx's "Too Much Time On My Hands" during their headlining set on Thursday! Featuring Travis Sharpe on lead vocals, the cover is well handled with nice melodic vocals, though the visuals are not ideal. The angle's good, but between the distant zoom, overexposed lighting, and heads of fans in closer rows, this isn't the optimal view of Soundcheck. Musically though, the video works great, so give it a look below!

Next up, Chris returned on Friday to film a song from hard rock band Sailor's Tongue's one-off reunion set, capturing them playing their fan favourite original song "BootScattered"! For clarification, their 2019 trio lineup saw veteran local musician brothers Kyle & Dean McKey back home on vocals/guitar and drums alongside ex-Turner Up bassist Jeff Brown. Early 2010s guitarists Blake Jackson and Liam Seymour were not present, despite Liam's heavy involvement in other Rotaryfest bands this year. Again, Chris' angle of the performance is sadly too distant, but the daytime lighting and lack of fans right in front of him mean that the visuals are improved on this clip. While lacking in rhythm guitar, Sailor's Tongue sound as good & catchy as ever, so fans who've miss them in the mid-late 2010s will want to take notice, and you can check their video out below! Hopefully we see them again soon!

Chris also filmed two videos of local indie rock solo musician Jesse Merineau and his band playing "She Knows" and an untitled original on Friday from a sharper angle, and hopefully these are good to stay online, as they're solid performances featuring many familiar faces! The remaining videos on Chris' channel come from Saturday, including from a pair of Stage 2 bands, such as headlining indie rock quartet K.I.C.K. playing their songs "Burning Desire" & "Dirty Shoe", which were the opening songs from their self-titled debut album. I wish the crowd was more filled up closer to the stage, but the Keep It Cool Kids are firmly in their musical element here, and have a nice smooth sound! Embedded below is footage from the set from local indie/punk quintet Northwest, whose video features them playing their songs "True North" and "Hangover Habits", which were the back half of their new EP "Songs From 2015-2017."

Filmed at a similar angle (and crowd volume, sadly) as K.I.C.K.'s videos, you still get Northwest at the top of their game, and between the folksier first song and their more punk-based second, you get the best of both worlds from what Chris shot! Give his footage from Stage 2 a look above & below!

We'll close today by heading back to Stage 1, where Chris filmed the last two bands, including this year's featured touring attraction, Toronto-based Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band Green River Revival, who are seen tackling the C.C.R. classics "Hey Tonight", "Up Around The Bend", and "Fortunate Son" (which Chris accidentally mistitled.) Filmed from the opposite stage angle from his Jesse Merineau videos, G.R.R. have the sound down well on these classic roots rock renditions, but the singer doesn't perfectly nail down John Fogerty's very distinctive voice (admittedly, few can.) Embedded here though is this year's closing act at Rotaryfest, namely local Celtic punk quintet Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide, who he filmed playing a short song I can't immediately name, another I can't title, and as embedded below, their set-opening and self-titled song "Rising Tide", as preceded by their traditional opening performance of the allegro movement from Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525".

No word on if the other two songs are from their forthcoming album or just me not doing a great job of researching the lyrics, but I am overdue to review another Rising Tide CD on here. Chris got closer for these videos, which have a nice sound and a less exposed lighting to them compared to his Soundcheck video, but a zoomed in angle would have helped. Give Chris' Rising Tide videos a look above and below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for this weekend's concert previews on the site next! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS (The Ripcordz & Soundcheck), A New Album, And New Videos!!

Before we dive into Rotaryfest fallout, let's tackle some recent and overdue news and notes, including a surprise album release, new videos, and leading off, here's some LOCAL CONCERT ALERTS for this fall!

With our Sault Ontario concert calendar now listing shows through early November from other bands, let's add three more concert weekends from local classic/hard rock cover quartet Soundcheck's own 2019 concert calendar to our listings! As revealed there (with new promotion hopefully following closer to showtime), fans can see Soundcheck back at Reggie's West for Friday & Saturday nighters on September 13th & 14th, and then on October 18th & 19th, shows which sandwich a return weekend at The Esquire Club on October 4th & 5th. Of course, there will likely be more shows coming from Soundcheck that aren't on the Reggievelt/Esquire-heavy concert calendar above, not to mention shows beyond October, so stay tuned for word on those if they come out. You can enjoy Travis, Terry, Paul, and Glen's hard rocking classic hits on all six nights at 10:00 PM-ish start times with 19+ age limits and no cover charges. See above for more details, and stay tuned for updates!

Next up, Montreal hardcore punk legends The Ripcordz will return to Sault Ste. Marie for one night only on Saturday, November 9th when they headline at The Rockstar Bar! Yes, this is advertised as being upstairs at The Rockstar Bar, not The Algonquin Pub, where they've played thrice before. After playing a local venue annually in the latter half of the year from 2013-2017, Paul Gott and company did not play a Soo date at all last year, so the anticipation is high for hardcore punk fans to take in The Ripcordz' extensive setlist, albeit later into the year than ever before, I think! Local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades will open this concert, marking their sixth straight time opening for their "Fed Up!" split-mates locally, with at least one additional opening band to be announced (for reference, the other opening act in 2017 was Stegadeth.) Once again promoted by Jack Spades frontman J.D. Pearce, this 19+ concert will have $10 advance tickets (availability details forthcoming), but unlike in 2017, the price jumps to $15 at the door.

Not seeing a Ripcordz show locally last year was very unusual, but better now than never for their seventh and final Sault Ste. Marie concert of the 2010s, and I know there will be a great turnout this fall! Visit the official Facebook event page for continuing details on this concert as they roll in!

Also, here's some long overdue updates from new local death/trance metal solo project Black Cloud, who quietly (and surprisingly) released their debut album onto their new Bandcamp page on June 27th! Entitled "Abstract Sounds", the Peytan Andreola-led act recorded nine songs for the album, which is available for $7 (or more) at the above links, eschewing the recent trend of "name your price" payment models for local bands on there, though you can stream the whole thing there for free too. While lo-fi in this state, the songs all have substantive length and don't have overtly provocative lyrics, so keep "Abstract Sounds" in mind if those aspects interest you! As a new paid album release, this is absolutely eligible for an SMS review, perhaps in the coming week, so stay tuned! Now, elsewhere from the Black Cloud camp, Peytan had posted a handful of new videos onto their Facebook page a couple of months back, so what is there to see from these?

Most recently, Peytan shared a video of him covering Devildriver's "Swinging the Dead", though it's hard to discern his performance over the original song. You get a better sense of his skill on this solid acoustic jam clip, plus two live streamed videos from May 28th (a 4 minute clip linked here, and the 43 minute long video embedded below.) Your best bet for audio clarity is the first 10 minutes, as Peytan's guitar was turned way down for most of it. He has growling ability and guitar skill, but he could stand to fill out the songs and improve on the structure and pacing. Is this present on "Abstract Sounds"? Find out soon, and see more above & below!

Finally for today, here's some new footage of local/Thompson, Manitoba alt-hard rock solo musician Mike Haggith, courtesy of his Facebook page earlier this month! Over the Canada Day weekend, Mike played at a private event with Thompson-area musicians, and he posted two videos from that set onto Facebook afterward, featuring him on vocals & rhythm guitar alongside guitarist John Ham, drummer Kory Wickdahl, and Mike's Between the Ditches bandmate Justin Fuciarelli on bass. For what it's worth, there are personal Facebook videos floating around of Mike and many of the same musicians from a more recent outdoor jam concert, but at press time, those haven't been publically shared that I know of. In terms of the Canada Day private gig, Mike and friends can be seen covering Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" (a fine pick for the then-impending Fourth of July), and as embedded below, Mike's own solo original "The Nature of the Times."

These performances sound good, and the extra rock base from the full band (temporary as it may be) does help the song, in this listener's view! I'm not a huge fan of "Free Bird", but that cover's handled well also. The videos' biggest issue is the tight camera angle which only captures Mike and Justin with any regularity, though Kory's head does come into view when Mike moves to his left. Solid renditions, so give them a look above & below!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for Rotaryfest fallout on the site tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

This Month's Poll On Your Favourite Local Concerts In The First Half Of 2019!!

Now that an incredibly busy Rotaryfest concert weekend has come and gone (stay tuned for fallout and a major hardcore punk show this fall soon), let's return to normalcy with our (delayed) latest poll on the SMS, as we're posing this question to you guys: What was your favourite local metal, hard rock, or punk concert in the first half of 2019? While it wasn't really obvious until the spring, we got off to a hotter start for heavier and punk shows in the Soo this year compared to 2018, and there were a lot of familiar, big names to take in on a local stage, so hopefully there's a good selection of 15 shows (plus "Other") to choose between! Remember, to make this poll, concerts must have taken place between January 1st and June 30th, 2019, and they must have a lineup at least half comprised of metal, hard rock, or punk bands. As such, shows like the Faps and River Jacks-headlined concerts are not in the poll, but you can pick "Other" to vote for them. Now, here are your final choices!

Bands: White Cowbell Oklahoma
Venue: LopLops Lounge
Date: January 26th
The first major local hard rock show of 2019 with a touring headliner saw Toronto southern hard rock veterans White Cowbell Oklahoma return to the Soo after four years away with another eclectic and hard hitting night of originals! Honouring their 20th anniversary on this tour run, and playing locally with Sault native Curtis Faux for the first time, the chainsaw and angle grinder-laden attack was another hit with fans, but would you vote for it?

Bands: Rotopsy, Awokest, Crucify The Whore, Chase Wigmore, Black Cloud, and Reeder
Venue: The New American Pub
Date: February 26th
A bit of a throwback to mid-2010s Oddfellows Hall shows came to The New A over the winter, where various Tyler Gibson and Chase Wigmore projects united for a night of grind and experimental metal action! Despite some late lineup shuffling, long-time Blood Shed Productions followers came out to enjoy this all-local lineup, notably featuring the apparent live debut of Black Cloud, plus a late notice opening rap set from Reeder. Did this show impress you the most?

Bands: The Cover-Up, Destroilet, Jack Spades, members of Northwest, Coral Fang, The Elements, and Stegadeth
Venue: Both floors of The Algonquin Hotel
Date: March 2nd
Following Joni Radford's death in January after a lengthy cancer battle, her friends in the music community banded together to host a memorial concert in her memory at The Algonquin Hotel, with seven punk bands playing across both floors of the venue. A huge crowd come out to honour Joni and rock out with this stacked lineup, including a rare Cover-Up headlining set and Destroilet's first show in 2 years, but would you vote for it in this poll?

Bands: OZbourne & The Paul DellaVedova Band (now The Dell Bros.)
Venue: The Canadian Nightclub
March 23rd
The first of a trifecta of tribute band headlining concerts locally in March saw Winnipeg-based Ozzy Osbourne/Black Sabbath tribute band OZbourne end an eight year drought for Ozzy tribute bands around here, and they delivered a faithful looking and sounding show for any Ozzy or Sabbath fan! Notably opened in a surprise genre clash by blues rock trio The Paul DellaVedova Band, was this night of classic covers enough to get your vote?

Bands: Parabol & The Elements (as "Scar Tissue")
Venue: The Rockstar Bar
Date: March 23rd
While Ozzy fans flocked to The Canadian, Tool fans instead headed to The Rockstar Bar on March 23rd, as local Tool tribute Parabol continued their early promise with another well recieved local concert date! This talented group knows Tool hits inside and out, and fans got more than their fill on this night, with The Elements playing an all-Red Hot Chili Peppers cover set to kick off the night! Was this tribute show your favourite local show of early 2019?

Bands: The Tea Party & The Proud Sons
Venue: The Machine Shop
Date: March 27th
After previously rocking the Soo in July 2017 after a lengthy local absence, Windsor hard rock veterans The Tea Party returned for another headlining concert, this time at The Machine Shop (and with paid, 19+ admission.) Fans ate up their familiar rock radio hits, with Winnipeg southern rock band The Proud Sons impressing with their own rising originals to kick off the night. Would you vote for this concert over all others listed in the poll?

Bands: Destroyer & Griphook
Venue: The Canadian Nightclub
Date: March 30th
The final of March 2019's tribute band run in the Soo saw Windsor-based Kiss tribute band Destroyer return to town for the first time in four years, and their well-tested brand of Kiss classics surely gave fans the next best thing to the best! Notably also featuring an opening set by hard rock cover quartet Griphook in their first public concert date in almost two years, this show helped send March out with a bang, but would you agree?

Bands: Conika, West of Hell, Expain, and Malignant Neoplasm
Venue: The New American Pub
Date: April 17th
After a five year absence, Vancouver death metal quintet West of Hell brought their melodic yet brutal original attack back to the Soo with this headlining concert at The New A, with fellow Vancouver metallers Expain joining them on this tour stop. Also featuring a rare live set from cybergrind solo project Malignant Neoplasm (or was it C.T.W.?!) and a closing rap set from Conika, would Six, Two, Oh.'s 2019 kick-off be your #1 pick?

Bands: The Killer Dwarfs & Re:Born
Venue: Soo Blaster
Date: April 27th
1980s and early 1990s hair metal fans flocked to Soo Blaster in April to see Oshawa hair metal legends The Killer Dwarfs and their amusing stage show back in town after a lengthy absence, as put on and well advertised by Sault Online & Rock Talk columnist Ernest Skinner. While a battle of the bands to find openers never panned out, power rock quartet Re:Born's new lineup delivered a fitting opening set! Would you vote for this concert?

Bands: Dave Evans & Hells Bells
Venue: The Rockstar Bar
Date: May 4th
A cool curiosity for AC/DC fans if there ever was one, original early-1970s AC/DC frontman Dave Evans made his way to Sault Ste. Marie in May with a set full of AC/DC classics and his own later original material. Fans seemed to respond positively to Dave's set, as backed up by the locally familiar AC/DC tribute band Hells Bells, who also played an opening set of their own with newer set selections. Would you vote for this show here?

Bands: Dopethrone, AlgomA, and Shit Liver
Venue: The New American Pub
Date: May 20th
Six, Two, Oh. brought another hard hitting night of doom and death metal to The New A a couple of months back, with Montreal "slutch metal" band Dopethrone making their local concert debut with a suitably slow and crushing set! Also featuring local death metal standouts (and "Trading Faces" splitmates) AlgomA & Shit Liver in their first local concert appearances in over a year, was this brutal concert your top pick of these six months?

Bands: K-Man & The 45s and Dave Smasher
Venue: The New American Pub
Date: June 6th
Despite a late venue change and opener replacement, ska punk fans were surely still in attendance at The New A last month when Montreal's own K-Man & The 45s came back to Sault Ste. Marie for the seventh time in the 2010s, delivering more fan favourite original material as they have so regularly around here! Now featuring Planet Smashers bassist Dave Smasher in a surprise opening set, did this concert impress you more than the rest?

Bands: Anvil, Striker, Jack Spades, and Re:Born
Venue: Soo Blaster
Date: June 9th
What originally was announced as just a Striker concert with Re:Born opening soon doubled in size and scope when Toronto metal legends Anvil and fellow locals Jack Spades were added on, making this one of the early highlights of the summer concert season! Anvil's very familiar metal on metal and Striker's old school NWOBHM-influenced sound paired well with the attending crowd, but were you there to vouch for it here?

Bands: The Elements, The Cover-Up, Coral Fang, and The Dynowaves
Venue: Queen Elizabeth Park
Date: June 21st
The seventh annual local Go Skateboarding Day festivities saw a fifth straight year of live music atop the big ramp at the skatepark outside of The John Rhodes Center, with 2018 returnees The Cover-Up joined by funk/hard rockers The Elements, Distillers tribute Coral Fang, and surf rock band The Dynowaves. This free, all ages, and outdoors event saw many music fans and skateboarders enjoy themselves, but were you among them?

Bands: Monster Truck & The Fortunate Losers
Venue: Soo Blaster
Date: June 28th
The first half of 2019 ended with a bang when Hamilton hard rock band Monster Truck made their local concert debut at Soo Blaster with their brand of Juno winning, southern rock-tinged original material! Also featuring Sudbury's own Fortunate Losers as an opening band, this concert didn't have the best turnout, but fans eager to hear Monster Truck live certainly ate this one up. Would you say this was your top local show so far this year?

Other: Did we miss your preferred concert in early 2019? For reference, artists like B.A. Johnston, Body Lens, Dustin Jones & The Rising Tide, The Faps, Fluid 5ive, The John Barber Band, Poison Girl, The River Jacks, Stoned To Deaf, Soundcheck, The Thirties, Tripod the Dog, Tym Morrison, and The Wyld Stallyns all played public local concerts between between New Year's Eve and Canada Day, along with shows not included involving some of the above acts in other shows in the poll. Maybe you preferred a Sault Michigan-area show instead? If your favourite local metal/hard rock/punk concert of early 2018 isn't listed above, vote for "Other"!

VOTE TODAY! You guys have until August 21st (due to the Rotaryfest delays) to cast your votes in this poll, and it'll be interesting to see how things go in a busier half-year for heavier concerts so far! I just hope there's a decent turnout. That's all for today, but stay tuned for more news and notes as the week rolls along! Thanks everyone!