Canadian Music Week Night 4: Amps and Anecdotes

Every time I come here, the vibe is different. Tonight, Sneaky Dee’s was a bright satanic red with occasional pop of green strobe light. There wasn’t much warning when the first band slammed their strings. It startled everyone to some collective attention before we fell into line as active listeners.

I can’t believe I went this long into the festival without coming across at least one Vancouver band. The Deadset’s zany Vancouver style goes from the music all the way to the band members’ strange names: Jt Criminal (lead vocalist and guitarist) and Steven Van Royalty (drummer). They strike up with an angsty “cherry bomb” kind of cutesy rock with pretty straightforward lyrics.


The Deadset

She’s definitely a powerhouse of a lead singer, it’s just a shame that technical difficulties kept interrupting the flow. Once again, amp issues threaten to foul up an evening. Even though there’s only two of them, they’ve got enough power to sound like a full band. She’s got a great attitude, changing from the fuck-off punk rocker to a charismatic storyteller between songs. Even though the story was about her being hammered on a flight and creeped out about the tiny toilets, it was still a fun little anecdote.

Sweet and Lowdown was the second band of the night, once stating that their prior performances ranged from “piss-soaked basements” to opening for some well-respected bands. You can’t help but love these guys in all of their unrelenting, unapologetic charm when describing their new album: “[it]’ll make you dump your prom date. Your mother won’t like this and neither will your father. But this wasn’t made for them. This was made for you, the naughty boy/girl lying in the confession booth”.

They’re all over the map with an initial assault of drums and guitar, led through with a consistently ‘90s vocals style. The biggest take-away I had with the band is how they were good at harmonizing amongst three vocalists at certain points of their songs. They didn’t quite fill the whole hour they were slated to play, but what’s the saying? “Keep it short and sweet?”

Back to Toronto core, we see Sparrows taking off at ten. They claim that pushing boundaries is their aim, balancing volume and band dynamics at the same time. Despite their focus being on the power of a live show, they have three full-length album under their belt. They weren’t lying about their “sheer force of volume”. They’re amongst the hardest of the hardcore post-2000’s punk bands, coming across like Rise Against and Alexisonfire.

a2590371239_10It’s nice to see that trashy ‘80s rock isn’t a lost art, at least not with bands like This Drama carrying on well into the 21st Century. They balanced an execution of fast-pacing and hardcore delivery, making this band come across like a lot of hard rock bands in these venues. There are a few tracks that stand out from their strict hardcore style. Two nights in a row, I came across Punchline 13. To save time and space, just refer to night three.

Believe it or not, Hamilton knows how to rock on. The Maysides are a testament to that. In fact, their music influence has given them both national and international airplay. Their style is very Blink 182 in how upbeat the rhythm is, added by the likewise stylized vocals. They thrash, they swing, they’re the Maysides.

Broken Hands was the last band of the night. If the name wasn’t charming enough, at least give them some brownie points with their debut album, “Turbulence” (2016) soon to be released. They’re probably the most unique band in the line-up, sparing the guitar until its really necessary, making it that much more bombastic once we hit the chorus. They also experiment with different things which is refreshing.

So, those were the bands and that’s a wrap.

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