To end this very strange year, here is our annual retrospective post on the what went down in the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene in the past 12 months! Of course, ⅘ths of it was spent in a pandemic largely devoid of concerts, so I have made necessary changes to how we usually block out our year-in-review posts, but hopefully I hit on every major relevant story in 2020! Now, let's look back at the year that was... such as it was!
Tarnished's Rock The Block event at Crooked Music in Sault Michigan in July, and the Blood Shed Productions-organized Squatfest in Heyden in August. Otherwise, the hard rock concert calendar in late 2020 was primarily the domain of weekend bar cover bands playing at the few venues willing to host bands with capacity and business-hour restrictions. Fort Creek and Soundcheck defied the pandemic with concerts at both local Reggie's taverns, while Tym Morrison hit the downtown Reggie's and the new Motley Market in recent months, and The Wyld Stallyns played a one-nighter at The Rockstar Bar in August during that venue's brief return of live concerts. With the new Ontario lockdown, things are pretty dead again, but fingers crossed for a 2021 uptick!
A number of local musicians adapted to the new normal (especially during the first lockdown) by holding live-streamed concerts on social media, with Mike Haggith's #LockdownLive series, Tym Morrison's regular slate of at-home gigs, and Tarnished's numerous acoustic duo concerts (despite ongoing audio difficulties) the most prominent for heavier genre acts. Mike and A Dire Setback also moved their CD release parties to at-home streams to give them the launch they deserved, while some annual events like Rotaryfest and The Sky's The Limit shifted to virtual editions in 2020, The Wyld Stallyns made an unadvertised appearance in The Zonta Club's Purses, Pies, and Pinot gala, and new events like SooToday's Come Together Sault Ste. Marie, Coronafest, and Northern Superior Brewing's Songs & A Six Pack gave musicians an outlet to perform at a difficult time.GFL Memorial Gardens welcomed the touring Queen musical We Will Rock You, while The Rad Zone re-opened in it's new Queen Street location. Room 21 closed in February, but the Soo welcomed The Borderline to the internet radio airwaves, giving a much needed local alternative! During the first lockdown, veteran local punk musician Mikey Hawdon launched his series of daily quarantunes on his uke(lele), which grew to much bigger and better things in recent months! Also this year: Shaun Antler kicked off her local musician archival project, Long & McQuade moved into it's big new location on MacDonald Avenue, Reggie's Place re-opened under new ownership, Tarnished got airplay on 9&10 News' The Four, The Inner City Surfers released their new single...
...frontman Dustin Jones' main band The Rising Tide (and Tarnished) released their own new music videos, Gary Croad replaced Tommy Korcal on drums with Tarnished, and Shit Liver released their long-gestating 2016 Canadian tour documentary. This was a difficult year, but thankfully, it was still a newsworthy one for unrelated reasons!
If being locked down at home did one thing for local musicians, it encouraged them to write and record in studio, and we got a surprising number of local metal, hard rock, and punk albums this year! The aforementioned Mike Haggith ("If Ever Comes The Day") and A Dire Setback (their self-titled album) got their new discs launched via virtual release concerts during the lockdown, while Sault Michigan's Tarnished put out their own EP "Down To The Wire" in July, not long after their Rock The Block concert. Blood Shed mainstays Crucify The Whore released "P.C. Sells... But I Ain't Buyin'!" and their second "A Couple Of Degenerate Bastards" split with Chase Wigmore this year, while Chris Raginskis' debuting 9 Times Dark project released "Vicissitude" in August. 2020 ended with a bang with two long awaited album releases, namely The Bear Hunters' "The Dead Testament" last month and As It Stands posthumous EP "The Lost Tapes" two weeks ago. Here's to even more high profile new albums in 2021!
As always, we'll end things with comebacks and returns to activity from prominent bands, and while few had the opportunity to play a concert as part of their resurgences, some familiar faces still made their presences known again in 2020! Acts like Ashoka At The Show, Black Cloud, Foothill Road, Mike Cliffe, Mike McCleary, The Shaner, and SweetKenny all came back to activity this year with new studio material or live performance videos,hopefully presaging more to come in the new year! Also, Ottawa's Bad Chug reunited and relocated to Sault Ontario with a Buckcherry opening slot still waiting in the wings, That's Chester posted a new Pink Floyd cover to honour late bandmate Eugene Orlando, Skeyes of Seven resurfaced to compete in a Corus Radio song contest, ex-No Arrow drummer Joe Falco resurfaced with solo videos on Youtube, and Destroilet came back to sell new t-shirts. Here's to more from them & others in the new year!
2020 was not a great year, but there was enough good in it where you can't completely write it off. That said, 2021 has to be a better year for the local metal, hard rock, and punk scene, how can it be worse? I'll be forgoing our usual "new year forecast" post tomorrow because, frankly, no one knows what 2021 has in store, let alone when we'll have some semblance of a normal concert calendar again, so why waste time when everything could be wrong? In any event, I hope everyone has a Happy New Year, and we'll see you back with next month's "Where Are The New Albums?" post on Saturday, with more news to follow when available! Thanks everyone!