This week, I witnessed history, of some sort. Last Saturday, Coal Chamber, a somewhat famous nu-metal band from the ’90s were playing their first concert in Toronto in exactly 13 years. What with nu-metal being practically dead, it was good to have felt like I was actually in the ’90s, if only for an hour and a half. That also brings another question, if Coal Chamber have been broken up for so long, can they still sound good? Yes. But first, let’s take a look at the opening acts.
The night begins with a local metalcore band from Bowmanville, Ont., In The Act of Violence. A strange choice for an opening act, who fail to really get the night started. It was like starting off a party by taking attendance. The basic chugging from the guitarist and perfect synch with the bassist doesn’t give me any space to want to be interested in their music, let alone the fact that their singer simply can’t sing. He growls more than he sings, but even the songs that include semi-soft singing bits are simply poor, bland and honestly off-key. No energy to start off the night. . . .
That is until Stolen Babies come onstage. The acid-trip of a mini circus that is Stolen Babies start off the night with a bizarre blend of heavy metal, gothic metal and, as you may have guessed, creepy circus music. I wasn’t expecting what Stolen Babies had in store at all, between the beautiful accordion and vocals parts given by the singer and the phenomenal bass grooves which eventually sound like he’s trying to make his bass explode; they really gave some good energy and essence to the night.
The night’s finally starting to pick up pace when the firsts big name shows up, Italy’s goth-metal giants Lacuna Coil. A great performance with lots of energy and crowd appeal, possibly because their female singer, Christina Scabbia, is drop-dead gorgeous. Though the one overlaying flaw is that Lacuna Coil lacked a bassist, though there was a track instead. Now, I don’t think it was awful to simply have a track, at least the backbone wasn’t left blank, but it gets to me when a band lacks the real essence of their heaviness playing live with them. Songs like ‘Trip the Darkness’ and the finale, ‘Intoxicated’, really lost a lot of momentum without a live bassist. Granted, having two 7-string guitars can somewhat make up for it. . . Not.
Finally, the curtains close to the theme of Halloween as Coal Chamber prepares backstage for quite a hungry audience. The strange sounds start and everyone knows what’s coming up next. When the curtains open, a collective jump and mosh starts as the band opens with their first single ever, ‘Loco’.
Dez Fafara, singer of Coal Chamber, looks surprisingly happy to be back onstage with the old band; this surprised me considering he’s been doing very well with DevilDriver for the past decade, but I suppose we all get tired of the new and want the old back sometimes. And, boy, did he prove that. Going berserk to all his old songs like ‘Big Truck’, ‘Dark Days’, and a phenomenal encore performance of everyone’s favourite, ‘Sway’, with a collective chant rumbling through the house: “The roof, the roof, the roof is on FIRE! We don’t need no water; let the motherf*cker burn, BURN!”
Ah, it’s still ringing in my head, a fantastic performance which made up for the 13-year absence.