Thursday, July 23, 2015

Beautiful Ruins


Saturday, July 18th, turned out to be an amazing night for metal. Invisible Orange, a local promotion company, sure knows how to stack a wicked line-up and throw on a good show. Before I get into an overall show review I’ll start with each bands individual performance.
                  
Meridius:  Where to even start. These young thrashers were first up for the night and didn’t disappoint. From the first riff to the last lick they kept the energy high and the crowd excited. Not once did I see them stop moving on stage or head banging. Eric Willmotts vocals were pounding and left me in awe of the seamless changing between dirty and clean vocals. Tie that in with the never-ending riffage and harmonies of Kieran Marquis and Sam Buchanan and you have a fresh take on a very old genre. Also I have to give a shout out to their drummer, Nolan Olson. It’s always nice to see a drummer head banging just as hard, if not harder, then everyone else in the band. Kudos.  There really wasn’t much that they did wrong for this show. Anytime I picked on anything it was remedied quickly. Found one guitar tone muddy at the start, fixed way before the end of the second song. I’d start feeling that some of the riffs and rhythms sounded like recycled riffs but then I’d get smacked across the face with a hard hitting thrash riff for evening thinking so. So all in all, great job by these young performers. That night this band made a fan, I know I will be following them and can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys.
                  
King Coyote:  Second up was a local prog sludge band. Musically this band is very talented. Their sound is very sick and dirty, and I mean that in a very good way. As for the show I noticed it took them a few songs to dial in with each other, but once they did they never broke off or skipped a beat. The first half of their set was fun and they tied in some stage theatrics. My only issue was the second half of their set the theatrics started to seem awkward. As this being my first time seeing them I couldn’t tell if they were actually fighting on stage as they seemed to start rushing songs just to finish their set. All and all; great dirty head banging sludge, awkward and confusing show.
                  
Spellcaster:  Third band up was a very talented power metal band from south of the border. You know you’re going to be in for a surprise when a guitarist walks on stage with a guitar set up just like Jimi Hendrix. Once that first chord rung the band didn’t stop. Great groovy riffs that definitely had me feeling nostalgic, it brought me back to my days of skate boarding while rocking iron maiden as a kid years ago. Cory Boyd and Bryce VanHoosen are power metal guitar wizards. The band as a whole played a wicked well put together set that had all the songs just flow into the next. I only found two issues with their otherwise textbook set. They didn’t involve the crowd too much or talk to them. Also I found the vocals kind of getting lost. I’m a stickler for being able to hear every word when I’m hearing clean vocals, and the words seemed to get lost when Tyler Loney would sing in lower tones. Keep in mind the vocal arrangement was tough and it’s understandable a singer would want to hit every note, but it came at the cost of not fully enunciating words. Other than that they kept the energy high and the crowd captivated.
                  
Out of the Ruins: Before I start, I’m going to feel really bad because this band is probably going to have the shortest write-up while being the band of the night. Though what can I really do? I’m doing a show review and here I have a band, which in my opinion played a flawless show. They were dialed in from the start and with a well thought out set list never let up. The crowd was involved and their energy on the stage was second to none. The whole set really felt like an onslaught of articulated riffs, crushing vocals and pounding drums. Grigor Avensov is a beast/machine (haven’t quite figured out which, but I know he isn’t human) on the bass, and it’s always nice to see female representation in the metal scene. Ange Ruin is probably the only female I’ve seen drum in a melodic prog band and she f****** owns it! Seriously hats off to this band. Too bad they moved to the center of the universe (Toronto) cause Vancouver lost one hell of a band.
                 
So to sum up the night, it was one hell of a show. I feel sorry for the people that couldn’t make it out cause it was worth it. Solid bands, solid promoter and solid venue, really you can’t ask for better than that. Out of the Ruins is one solid band and I really can’t wait to see more of Meridius. Good job everyone.
                  Cheers,
                  Mike Watson

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Valentines In July

Trying to find Red Room was a fun time for someone new to the city, it’s not exactly situated with the rest of “club society” down on Granville bar row but the neon red sign proved helpful. The venue itself was a pleasure to view a show in mostly in part to the abundance of space. If you wanted to crowd closer to the stage for that intimate, sometimes pushing each other around- type of experience then you could but there was a plethora of seating available in every which direction, with pool tables and booths in the back. The venue even had its own light show electronic booth set up with TV monitors around the walls, so even if you couldn't get a good view of the show, you could still see it.

The staff seemed to be mostly friendly albeit some, a bit uninviting as a waitress I’d never seen before interrupted my conversation with a firm "you done with that?" she said while tilting her head towards my drink. I am and thank you for interrupting me. There was a great sound system; the venue was definitely built for shows. You could hold a conversation in the back or get blasted with sound at the front. Great for music lovers of all types though if no bands were playing I’m not sure how the space is utilized. It seemed large enough to be a bumpin’ night club but there wasn't as many people present per square foot as there could be on this particular evening.
Unfortunately I was not able to make it to see the acoustic stylings of the opening act “After our Juliet” but from what I can tell with their social media, it’s clear next time I will have to be present. After listening to a few of their songs like “cut me like you love me” and “remedy” on their Soundcloud page (https://soundcloud.com/afterourjuliet)

 I can say that I’m definitely intrigued to what probably would have been a great acoustic show. The band’s sound reminds me something of maybe Bayside or Say Anything, the energetic guitar riffs and dreamy “scene boy” voice will be sure to rack them up a teenage fan-girl basis and let’s face it, screaming teenage fans = record sales. I will look forward to the next gig these guys play at with Hammer Records present.

Remember Lite-Brite


 



The show, for me, started off with the band “Remember Lite-Brite?” as
the lead singer approached me not knowing I was the reviewer for Hammer Records. At the bar he was super friendly and charismatic asking me...so do YOU guys remember lite-brite?? His charm on stage was abundantly present between songs when chatting to the crowd.

The band had a bit of a rocky start with fixing instrumental issues but their energy kept the crowd from rolling their eyes with annoyance like anyone would when itching to see a rock show amidst tech issues.  That being said there was A LOT of talk for the set as a whole. When you want to chill out to a good music set for a bit and there are all these intermittent stops to tune and pause and talk, it can be a bit distracting. Though, who can really help technical difficulties? Make sure you guys can tune those guitars a little faster next time boys! The lead singer’s voice seemed to get better over time. Warm up of vocals I think. Lots of cuss words and banter about sex, though I'm a fan of it some people may not be but then again, if you want a censored show, listen to any top 40 on the radio, did I just say that?



These guys seem like the type of kids I would have loved to be friends with in high school, the colourful hair, the charisma, the Billie Joe had a baby with Tom Delonge-ish voice, oh it would have been a sweet teenage experience. Hell, I'd settle for being friends now, shout out to the band to be friendsies!

Though the crowd was a sub-par interactive experience, the band played on with the essence of not giving a f*ck whether two, or two thousand people showed up. Their catchy guitar riffs and rhythm section reminds me something of Gob back in the day or maybe Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It was a pleasure to witness and the nostalgic 2000's pop punk rock girl inside me was geeking out during the performance. Whether or not the band was going for that vibe, I think it was brilliant.


The band as a whole jive well, a bit of the back and forth banter seemed contrived at times but I believe with more and more shows it will come naturally. Banter and songs were a bit immature in content; I thought they resembled a young blink 182 though so my older self may be a bit biased. I do believe if the will to survive thrives in these young musical Jedi, that they will make something very special of their career. May the musical force be with you.

Check the band out on their Facebook page HERE.

Cigarettes and Valentines




Well… the bands entrance was pretty fantastic. The screaming fans, the epic entry music, starting with an in your face loud American Idiot tribute to Green Day, I think Billie Joe would be proud. I certainly was impressed although my dad moonlights as an Elvis Presley tribute artist and he plays the same song before walking on stage… so I may be a little biased on thinking it’s a bit cheese. Cute. But cheese.

This band seemed to have a much bigger following than the previous two as the dance floor filled up with gently jiving bodies, still needing a few more brews to loosen up and then an over load of Green Day fans screaming every lyric back in their faces with fists pumping in the air.


No doubt the band could play their instruments and play them well; it was a pretty spot on impression of green day. Impression I say because with some "cover songs" you get that the band has taken something old and put their own self into it, a “spin” on it if you will, where as a tribute artist, as these such men call themselves at least in the playing portion, did not seem to try and deviate from the greatness that is Green Day but rather, mirrored it well. The black attire and red tie even reminiscent of the bands earlier days. Who doesn't like a good Green Day tune?

The band had an intense energy and stage presence about them, thus making me wonder what they would be like with their own material. That being said the Green Day tribute was a well-executed one at that, I will definitely give them that one. They seemed to be comfortable with the material, their performance and their star quality without even trying. A bit of a strength compared to the previous band. The crowd that followed them out seemed to be that of a real life, fan girl, "please marry me" following. I give props to these men on their performance and will look forward to anything original if/when they put that out to the universe.

Check out the band on their Facebook HERE.




Review and photos by: Julia Lynn Monk

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Enter Studio Records


Who doesn’t like something shiny and new? If you thought Joe’s Apartment, a local music hub in downtown Vancouver was spiffy before, Hammer Records had a chance to check out its make-over at the brand new venue, “The Studio” this past Saturday night. Located on Granville Street at the corner of Smithe, this venue was hard to locate at first glance. Upon further inspection I discovered the place was below what would have been a bright neon sign, screaming the venue’s name “The Studio”, but unfortunately for opening night, was not lit up. Had it been lit up it would have been easily recognizable on the bustling streets, showcasing Vancouver’s night life.
Upon entry to the venue the velvet ropes and bouncer like detail made it feel like a very legit and fancy arrival. When entering the building I immediately noticed the assortment of records displayed on the wall for sale, which I thought was a great idea for décor and possibly for impulse buy shopping, but then again when you go clubbing there really isn’t much room for a vinyl in your clutch purse or back pocket. The door woman inked me with a trendy “I <3 Studio” wrist stamp and away I went.
The gigantic chandelier hanging in the center of the room has been and always will be a staple at this venue. The chandelier center piece paired with the exposed brick and back-lit opaque glass behind the bar gave off a glamourous and sophisticated, rock star style which made it feel like you were seeing a band in someone’s expensive home studio. Though the décor seemed very eloquent it didn’t shy away any type of crowd. People that attended the show ranged from your typical pop punk princess, to a 40 year old rocker and even a Kevin Smith looking dude.
            Before the bands took stage I made my way over to one of the two bars available. The smaller bar near the entrance was equipped with your basic well drinks while the longer more elaborate bar just a few steps inward, had everything from draft beer to your fancy cocktails. When I asked one of the bartenders what type of mixed drink she would recommend she chose a Blue Hawaiian for me, which was delicious and moderately priced. Though she seemed new to the bartending experience she was friendly and helpful when choosing a beverage.
The venue itself ran like a runway model, long and slender, which didn’t leave much room for seating but somehow they managed to fit in quite a few spots for guests to take a load off. I noticed overhead there was an ample amount of space upstairs that was unused, perhaps in the future Studio’s management will put in extra seating for guests that don’t feel like being right in the throes of front stage floor action. The stage was very accommodating for the bands and provided enough room to give them flexibility with their stage presence. Behind the performers dawned a backsplash riddled with old amplifiers and stereo speakers which gave a unique touch to the vibe of the place. The bathrooms though hard to find at first, were found located around the corner of the entry and down a flight of stairs (a problem for most with a few drinks in them), but once downstairs I found it to be a quiet solace with trendy graffiti painted doors, and a clean and functional room.
The overhead audio between performances was clear and reverberated nicely in the space adding to the overall atmosphere. Compared to some of the smaller divey-type of venues local acts play in, the audio engineering was much louder and audible. It was definitely a higher caliber of performance because of the money spent on audio gear. One guy actually had his ears covered, whether it was because rock music wasn’t his cup of tea or it was just simply too loud for him is up for discussion, but based on the bands’ stellar performances I will bet on the latter.
The Studio overall had a sleek décor and a fun atmosphere for all types of music lovers. If I was a musician I would definitely want to play a show on their stage and as a guest I will definitely return. Joe’s Apartment may have been a crowd pleaser but I think it’s safe to say that The Studio was widely received and will be around to stay. For more reviews on venues, artists, bands and events keep checking us out at Hammer Records.



Article and photographs by Julia Monk

julialynnmonk@gmail.com