People are gearing up – you can already feel the energy. It rustles through the twisted metal of the Bovine Sex Club. There doesn’t have to be a full room of people to sense it, it’s just second-nature to the night-folk here. Sound checks for Crawl are going on as people filter in sparingly. I was expecting to see the place a little more packed by 9:21 (about 20 minutes into the first performance), but it’s still pretty early and still considerably empty. Instead of waves of people suddenly filling the club’s interior up to the brim, we saw a much slower trickle.
Crawl hits the stage, showcasing a mix of their new and old stuff. The band originally formed in ‘92 and set their pace as being loud and energetic heavy-metal rockers. They’ve reformed in 2013 with over 400 shows under their belt, including two national tours. Their slugging notes on their 2013 album, Anticipate The Fall, were the sock to the gut that their fans were craving. They represent the quintessential heavy-metal band and shouldn’t be missed by Canadian metalheads since these guys are simultaneously Toronto and Windsor-based.
I was not disappointed when I was hoping for a spectacularly thunderous live version of their album’s material – they were definitely the loudest and bassiest performance in this club so far. The lead singer is a great performer but he’d be nothing is he weren’t framed by the great musicians behind him.
Their live presence is a rallying cry to the heavy metal nation. “Loaded” was their most powerful song tonight – gearing up and dropping off at unexpected times throughout the song. They rev right back up and bring the audience on board their crazy train. And damn! This guy’s got some lungs on him! He holds unwavering notes like he’s locked his jaw on them and won’t let go. He even got closer to the audience, hopping over the front bar on the stage and reigning supreme over the row of metal worshippers standing before him. In a fortified tin can like the Bovine, the band’s bass reverberates with a much greater intensity.
The Sour Notes hit the stage next and they left a sweeter impression on the crowd. Before they got started, we had a full house at the Bovine. All the trickling has paid off, it seems. Even during the sound check, these guys had a captive audience – the crowd was quiet when the band was testing various guitar strings. They’re based in Austin, Texas, but they’ve been warmly accepted in the north since they’ve toured the entire western world from their start in 2008.
They rounded off the edge that the previous band brought, but it still made for a hypnotic psychedelic experience. The crowd was virtually enthralled. The smooth sound I heard on the album was traded in for a more solid vibe on stage. An iPad run by a technician at the edge of the bar provided some interesting visual effects on the backdrop of the stage. This whole style reminds me of the ONFIILM performance from last night – where everything is portrayed in a blue wash. This is definitely not new as far as shows go, but coupled with good music, it’s a great thing to watch. While their style is experimental, it’s pretty constant as the show goes on. There wasn’t much interaction with the audience or with one another – but there really didn’t need to be since they already had everyone’s attention – no shtick or hack moves necessary. Yola Blake was particularly enticing with her gentle swaying style. Her vocal style had some unmistakable force to it though. The Sour Notes have this way of transporting you further into their music and what they’re about. The influence of alcohol doesn’t hurt this journey either. They were good – they held the attention of a full crowd and took on the challenge unflinchingly.
Washington-based band Shark Week tends to find inspiration through ‘60s surf music – a common trend in indie music and a theme for a lot of bands playing at this particular venue. They’re definitely rougher with their execution of this style, setting them apart from other indie bands that take on this style.
They deserve a hell of a lot of credit, especially the drummer: on account of his broken arm, he played the set one-handed. The play had a rocky start with a few technical difficulties, but they soon showed why they’re worth sticking around for. The surf wave music was layered with modern rock, making for a very interesting combination of the two. It hits you harshly, but once you ease into it, it’s not hard to love the sharks. It’s fun – above all, it’s fun to get lost into. Shark Week will sneak up on you for sure: by the name, we assume it’s some cute ploy. It’s a legitimate performance here though, and people can’t seem to get close enough to the stage. Even though there’s a funny Bollywood zombie movie on one of the screens behind the bar, people have their eyes and ears on what’s on stage.
The Bovine has a habit of finding room for the people who show up out of nowhere. This is especially convenient for a place whose siren songs strengthen throughout the night. Tomorrow will be the legendary night.
Come on out for the last night:
Saturday, June 20th . 2015
9:00 pm – Apache Darling
10:00 pm – Keram
11:00 pm – Urvah Khan
12:00 am – Terrorista
1:00 am – The Mercy Now
2:00 am – Public Animal