Canadian hard rockers Three Days Grace rolled into Montreal, Canada on November 20 in support of their newly released Explosions album. With 20 top ten hits on Billboard charts spread out over 20 years, the term grizzled veterans can be applied to them. Led by lead singer Brad Waist (and younger brother of lead guitarist Matt) who joined the band in 2011, Three Days Grace performed a show similar to many of today’s modern rock bands, and that is what it was, a very produced and choreographed show performed by aged veterans.
Opening with So Called Life and following up Animal I Have Become, Three Days Grace had the crowd going from the start. Home and Pain had the early vibes of Three Days Grace but that is when the process became too rehearsed and choreographed.
The show progressed between Painkiller and I Am The Weapon from The Explosions album, but a long keyboard setup and Brad Waist chants for Three Days Grace kept breaking up the fluidity. Brad Waist’s banter to the crowd lacked sincerity before World So Cold. Following songs such as Good Life and I Hate Everything About You were played. Encore songs were Never Too Late and Riot but at that point, the crowd had noticeably diminished.
Opening up for Three Days Grace was The Warning, a trio of sisters from Mexico. Playing songs off their newly released Errors album, they stole the show with their high energy tempo, rhythms, stage performance and enthusiasm. Things that the Three Days Grace show lacked. And their cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman had a crowd sing-a-long going. Setting up the whole evening was The Standstills, a Canadian duo from Oshawa, Ontario, playing standard rock radio fare from their two albums Shockwave and Badlands.
Punk music has changed a lot over the decades since bands like the Sex Pistols and The Ramones. Two different generations of punk bands played on November 4, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. 1990’s California punk rock band The Offspring rolled into town with their Let the Bad Times Roll tour, originally postponed from earlier in the year due to the pandemic, with 2000’s hometown boys pop punk band Simple Plan opening up for them. And a great show it was.
One thing about the change in punk music is how much more it is streamlined for public consumption. The audience itself knew the entire catalogue of songs by both bands and the evening itself was a large sing-a-long of the songs for both bands.
The veterans and headliners of the show, The Offspring opened up their set with Keep them Separated and closed with Self Esteem. The majority of their songs came from their albums Americana and Ixnay on the Hombre with the only noteworthy addition to the setlist being Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell being added. A cover of Blitzkrieg Bop was played. Noodles played several guitar riffs midway through the set to give Dexter’s voice a rest. The show was smooth as the dialogue between Dexter and Noodles – who isn’t as funny as he thinks sometimes – kept the set going in between guitar changes and tuning. But as Noodles commented, the sing-a-long factor of the crowd was tremendous and made the whole show fun.
But the real fun of the evening went to Simple Plan. As they are from Montreal and spoke in French, they had a huge pop and crowd response the whole night. Right from the start of their show with I’d Do Anything, the crowd was immediately behind them. But the highlight was special invite Marie Mai, a successful French pop star, to sing the female parts of Jet Lag which was the third song on their setlist. From giant beach balls from the rafters during Summer Paradise to a sing a long mix of All Star/Sk8er Boi and Mr. Brightside, Simple Plan’s show had a headline vibe. I’m Just a Kid also had the crowd going and they closed with Perfect, their ballad which had the loudest sing-a-long of their evening. Simple Plan played with a high level of energy the whole evening and did not miss a beat with no dead time. A very well-done show.
The Rock la Cauze festival in Victoriaville, Quebec returned in full force on Aug 11-13, 2022 after a 2-year pandemic hiatus. A social economy project, the purpose of the festival is to raise money for local charities. Themed as a punk rock festival, the schedule of performers featured an array of musical genres, centered around the main headliners: Billy Talent, Rise Against and The Used. Other noteworthy performers included The Lazy’s from Australia, Face to Face & Senses Fail from the USA.
The festival schedule was split into different music genres. Day one of the festival featured local French punk bands such as Exterio, Irish Moutarde & Bob Gorgée – leaving the crowd attracting headliners for the weekend. The second day of the festival opened up with the Lazy’s. Featuring a trademark style sound, they played their Australian hits ranging from “Little Miss Crazy” to “Half Mast Blues”, with a tribute to AC/DC (their Australian brethren) “If you want Blood” before closing with their biggest hit “Nothing but Trouble”. The next band, Tagada Jones, was a French Punk Band with huge success In France. They were effective in setting up for Friday’s headliner, Billy Talent. From Toronto and born in Montreal, Billy Talent has a long history of love in Quebec. Playing his full setlist, Billy laughed as he defined moshing as “Pushing and Shoving” – which only incited the crowd to mosh more. His set subsequently ending with the crowd in a giant mosh pit for Viking Death March, though Fallen Leaves also created a huge pit as well. And thus ended the second day. The third day of the festival had an emo music genre feel. It really began with Senses Fail, a band from New Jersey. Emo music in genre, their performance was similar to other bands such as Red Jumpsuit Apparatus or Taking Back Sunday. As it was mid afternoon, they were effective in getting the crowd, who were just arriving, warmed up for the next act, Face to Face. Playing what turned out to be the strongest set of the night, these “old guys playing old songs” to quote lead singer Trever Keith, wasted little time with talk and played their catalogue from start to finish.
Which could not be said for the next band, The Used. The lowest point of the night, although the band played great, lead singer Bert McCracken’s constant talk and choice to quote Shakespearean soliloquies to a predominantly French speaking audience deflated a lot of the crowd’s energy and limited the band to a short setlist. Fortunately, the next band Rise Against, who also has no shortage of love in Quebec, saved the evening with another strong headlining performance. “We have been a band for over 20 years” to quote lead singer Tim McIlrath, and is showed as they clearly had experience with the crowd as Tim would speak in his best French and talk about Rise Against’s history in Quebec. They played their catalogue of hits with the notable addition of :Hero of War” this set and the omission of “Help is On The Way” before closing with “Survive” and “Savior”. It was a great show to conclude a great 2022 festival.
Shinedown is an American rock band from Jacksonville, Florida, formed by singer Brent Smith in 2001. With a long list of hits in the mainstream rock billboard charts and 358-day delay due to the pandemic, Shinedown returned to Montreal, Canada July 20 at the Salle D’Olympia for a big evening on their Planet Zero tour. Despite brief pauses in between each song, Brent Smith and the group performed another solid show in traditional Shinedown fashion. After a long introductory video welcoming us to planet zero, the title of their newest album, Shinedown opened with pyro and flames with the opening song The Saints of Violence and Innuendo Another success was their following song, Devil, following up with Planet Zero and on it went with a sing-a-long with the song 45 off their debut album. Shinedown covered their discography of hits and re-introduced Call Me into their setlist as well. Daylight, the second single off of Planet Zero, was also included in the setlist. And in Shinedown fashion, the evening concluded with Sound of Madness. Brent Smith’s voice and vocals held high over the guitars of Zach Myers, the bass of Eric Bass and the drums of Barry Kerch. Smaller venues such as the Salle Olympia help these things unlike larger auditoriums. With many video pauses and emotional support speeches by Brent Smith, the show lacked fluidity and the customary getting people to light up their cellphone looks nice but takes up time to get accomplished. A few more songs could have always been added in their place. Once Enemies played, as sense of energy returned, followed by Cut the Cord. An audio clip of top 40 DJ Casey Kasem and post song explanation isolated the ballad Second Chance from the rest of the set. The pyro and light show for Diamond Eyes was the definite high energy moment of the evening. And in a small venue, the heat from the flames was really felt throughout the building.
Before Shinedown, POP Evil warmed up the crowd in spectacular fashion with a high energy show. Led by lead singer Leigh Kakaty, the band from North Muskegon had a good quality light, audio, smoke and sound show. Opening with Let the Chaos Reign, POP EVIL opened mostly with their recent released songs off their Versatile album such as Work. Set me Free and Breathe Again. Playing their catalogue of harder rock hits such as Trenches, Legendary, Deal with the Devil and Waking the Lions, the only slower moment was for the ballad Torn to Pieces. It was definitely a solid although short set for POP Evil.
Beginning the evening, the singer/guitarist Ayron Jones from Seattle opened with a Hendrix-like set filled with guitar-centric rock songs. Jones played a style similar to Lenny Kravitz with a solid bass and rhythm section. An up-and-coming performer for sure.
Californian hard rock band BUCKCHERRY performed their first of two shows in Ottawa on Friday, October 22, 2021. This concert had been rescheduled twice due to the pandemic and split into 2 separate shows to meet current pandemic health restrictions in Ontario. The crowd simmered with excitement as BUCKCHERRY are one of today’s top live performers and a favorite for rock fans worldwide because of their constantly touring.
The stage went dark and the opening riff to So Far blared through the speakers. This was a welcomed dose of rock after a long, suffering year-and-a-half with cancelled shows because of Covid-19. Playing to a fully masked, 50% capacity restricted, socially distanced and seated-if-you-have-a-drink crowd, Josh Todd commented after So Hott and Ridin’ “I hear y’all got hit pretty hard up here”.
It has been 18 months since the last international mainstream act had played in Ontario. “It’s been awhile since y’all have seen a rock ‘n roll show” said lead singer Josh Todd. Josh then asked if anyone liked cocaine, sequencing into his first major hit, Lit up. After the cheering died down, Josh took a minute and welcomed everyone and introduced the band. He referenced the pandemic, “23 years in this business and I ain’t seen this sh*t before”. His words were true and, of course, we’d all had dealt with it.
He then played all his hits from his eight-album catalogue from Everything, Sorry, Too drunk to f*ck and the title track HELLBOUND from their most recent album of the same name. The big surprise was their cover of Bryan Adams “Summer of ’69” because, to them, it’s “Canada’s favorite song” before they played their prominent hit “Crazy Bitch”. They quickly closed out the show with Dead as a fast encore to meet 11 pm curfew for health restrictions.
With no props or pyro, BUCKCHERRY just rocked out the entire evening with good riffs, solid rhythms and strong vocals. Opening up the evening was HARD LABOUR, a Rock n Roll trio based out of Ottawa Ontario.
It has been a difficult 18 months for the music and entertainment industry, especially in Canada with travel restrictions still in effect, but the light at the end of the tunnel has arrived as live music has returned with the sold-out 4th annual Rock the Hub music festival in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada this past September 10-12, 2021. Featuring an array of Canadian-only headlining bands due to travel restrictions, Rock the Hub brought back the sense of community that festivals and live music can bring that has been missing far too long.
Although the larger bands may have taken a hit during the lockdown, it’s also the start-up and unsigned bands that got hurt the most so opening acts like Skye Wallace and the Blue Stones on Friday were really excited to play. They were the first live bands to play a festival in Eastern Canada in almost 18 months!
The Sheepdogs from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and The Sam Roberts Band from Montreal, Quebec were the headlining acts that evening with each of them bringing an excitement and energy to their shows because, once again, it’s been a long time since they have played live. And it was a long time since crowds got to see live music so it didn’t take much for closing act Sam Roberts to get the crowd going to sing along on all his hits.
The second night of Rock the Hub promised to be the big one and delivered. Starting with Motorleague, a rock band from Moncton, NB, with a huge local following, started the evening and brought in an early crowd. The Standstills, a duo from Oshawa, Ontario followed next with a sound similar to Royal Blood. This all set up for the headlining trio of Monster Truck, Big Wreck and Our Lady Peace – three legendary Canadian bands with international success. They played all their hits and as well as new songs “Ought to be” by Big Wreck and “Stop making stupid people famous” by Our Lady Peace. The standout moment of the evening was Our Lady Peace’s cover of Tragically Hip’s “Ballad of a Poet” in tribute to the late Gord Downey.
The last evening brought in two more Canadian legends Danko Jones and Billy Talent. While Royal Tusk had to cancel due to illness, that left Andre Pettipas & The Giants from Montreal, Cleopatrick, and The Wild from British Columbia to get the show going. And getting the show going is also the trademark of the king of Canadian banter Danko Jones, who not only played his hits and two new songs from his latest album, but also brought his “A” game for his banter. From getting the crowd to boo the band for never playing in Truro, NS before, trying to tune a guitar, insisting on playing the Sunday show because that’s when only real rock fans attend – Danko never failed to entertain.
And Billy Talent, the last band of the festival, really entertained. After a 1080-day layoff between live shows for them, they were really happy to play. And the people were happy to see them as their show brought the most energy from the sell out crowd. They also played all their hits from their catalogue including their new single “End of Me”.
It was really exciting to see the return of live music and festivals and it was sad to see the festival end. The 4th annual Rock the Hub was a huge success and a symbol of hope for the return of live music and festivals throughout the rest of Canada in 2022!
They say that if you put in ten thousand hours into something, you can consider yourself an expert. Therefore, after 2 years since their release of TUSK II by Edmonton, Alberta’s ROYAL TUSK, they have toured twice with POP Evil and across the USA. And with the start of the 2020, they are headlining their tour fresh at the start of the decade, Thunder on the Tundra, across Canada with a stop in Montreal. With all those hours, it must certainly add up to ten thousand, if not close too.
The Canadian quartet consisting of Daniel Carriere (Vocals, Guitar), Quinn Cyrankiewicz (Guitar), Sandy MacKinnon (Bass) and Calen Stuckel (Drums) have been together since 2013 and have been the original members of the band. And with 7 years experience under their belt, they played a professional and tight rock performance. With songs centered around garage guitar riffs by Cyrankiewicz, Carriere’s edgy and gruff vocals and rhythms by MacKinnon and Stuckel, what you get is a mix between 90’s grunge and modern arena rock with a dash of classic rock. Something familiar, yet something a bit new.
Opening with “Freedom”, the group played their second single “First Time” before Carriere took a breather to engage with the Montreal Crowd. And such is how the night went as their set continued throughout the evening. They played all their songs from TUSK II, closing with their latest single “Aftermath”, mixing in a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” along the way – Clearly indicative of the musical influences that made the ROYAL TUSK sound. And given the modest crowd in attendance, the band put in a full effort and spent time mingling with the crowd afterwards.
Opening for ROYAL TUSK was BRKN LOVE, another quartet from Toronto who have also toured in the USA last year with POP Evil and ROYAL TUSK. Fresh on the release a few weeks ago of their self-titled debut album, the band performed a similar sounding set to ROYAL TUSK. Led by lead singer and founder Justin Benlolo, he is young and has worked the L.A. and New York circuits. With scheduled appearances in several music festivals this summer of 2020, BRKN LOVE will be a name you may hear about in the near future.
Opening the evening was SIGHTS AND SOUNDS, also from Toronto. They played a more punk sound, similar to Social Distortion.
It’s been a busy few years for rock band ROYAL TUSK. Since the release of their second full length album TUSK II back in 2018, the quartet from Edmonton, Canada have been on two tours throughout North America opening for POP Evil, released four videos from TUSK II and are now preparing to headline a Canadian tour this winter with BRKN LOVE. With all that is going on, ROYAL TUSK lead singer Daniel Carriere (D.C.) was kind enough to talk to neo-examiner.com about himself, life on the road and provide a personal insight into life in ROYAL TUSK.
NEO-EXAMINER: You are a former Juno nominee now touring in the United States. Does anyone in America know what a Juno is?
D.C.: (laughs) You know, I don’t ever mention it. I’m not into accolades so I’m not really into that sort of stuff. Music isn’t a race, it’s subjective. In axis, it’s impossible to gauge subjectivity. One person might decide what’s best while others might have a different perspective. I believe that to each their own, music is a non-competitive arena.
NEO-EXAMINER: You have a tattoo of a tiger on you arm, tell us the story about that?
D.C.: I dunno, I just felt like I wanted some power in my life. A tiger felt right to me. It’s a powerful yet calm animal. When you see something everyday, it influences you. In physics, opposite attracts negative but in this instance positive draws positive – it’s part of our mental world. So when you see something powerful everyday, you feel powerful. That’s why I chose a tiger.
NEO-EXAMINER: You have been on the road in the states for many months. Do you miss local Edmonton beer and what do you drink when you are on the road?
D.C.: Basically, we have two beers: Dad and Mom beer, in other words Bud and Bud Light. In our riders, we usually ask for two-four (case of beer) and a two-six (24 oz btl) of alcohol, promoter’s choice. We always have leftovers so we also have a mini bar with tequila and stuff but to be honest, we don’t party as much as before. Really, alcohol affects your performance and I don’t want to embarrass myself. You want to perform at your best.
NEO-EXAMINER: If you had to become a video game character instead of an international Rockstar, who would you be?
D.C.: It’s funny, but I’m not really into video games. When I was a kid, RYU from Street Fighter was the best. I didn’t have a Nintendo or anything but when I was in the arcade, I always played RYU. He wasn’t the best compared to others but he was always the most badass.
NEO-EXAMINER: What’s the best prank you pulled on one of your bandmates?
D.C.: There are so many. Once, I took Quinn’s (guitarist) guitars out of the cases and threw the cases off a loading dock. He freaked, but the cases were empty. But Sandy (bassist), he has a running gag with Chris (the sound guy). Originally, Chris took a press photo of us and changed Sandy’s Oakland Raiders shirt to the Patriots on the press photo using Photoshop. That pissed off Sandy because he really takes the NFL seriously, so what Sandy did was took a picture of Chris, and made him into a vampire and astronaut and stuff. Sandy plans to take all these photos and sell them as a calendar on the road. But mostly, we just really talk a lot of shit to one other.
NEO-EXAMINER: A good part of being on the road all the time is stopping at buffets to eat and grabbing enough food for days. Where was your biggest haul?
D.C.: We don’t steal from buffets; we are too honest. We’re doing well now; we eat at restaurants and sleep at hotels. Before, we used to share plates and get in trouble for that but we don’t really steal food. Early on, what we used to do was go to the 7-11 and make tomato soup with ketchup, water, creamers, salt and pepper. You can really make a good tomato soup for free with that recipe.
NEO-EXAMINER: Last but not least, when can we expect new Royal Tusk material?
D.C.: We are going on tour now and the U.S. in the summer, we have some demos and are going to try to get something out in the fall.
Canada has exported many bands into the international music scene over the decades with household names such as Bryan Adams, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber to name a few. In the punk rock genre, SUM 41 remains the most famous while others such as Danko Jones have been met with less international success. However, that doesn’t stop them from touring and fresh from their European tour opening for Volbeat, Danko Jones returned to their home province in Canada for a change of clothes and to play some “rock and roll shows”, as Danko himself put it. So on December 12, Danko Jones came to the Brass Monkey in Ottawa, Ontario to play on “a Thursday night when no one comes to a sold out rock and roll show” and to “fulfill his dream of playing next to a pet store”.
Consisting of Danko Jones (vocals/guitar), John ‘JC’ Calabrese (bass), and Rich Knox (drums), they have released 8 albums with numerous EP’s and a Live album since 2002. But it’s their energetic and humoristic shows that have made them famous here in Canada and Europe. With a large discography containing numerous singles thrown in with humoristic dialogue, energy is required to fill in a 90 minute setlist. So despite recovering from a cold so “phlegm ruins the notes but nobody cares cuz it’s a rock and roll show”, energetic is what can best describe a Danko Jones show.
And they crammed in all their hits such as “First Date”, “Lovercall” and “Do You Wanna Rock” to name a few. And the sold out crowd knew the songs as Danko Jones is a popular band locally with regular radio airplay. Newer songs included “I’m In a Band” from ROCK SUPREME and the song “Fists up High” from an upcoming album in the process of being recorded which was the big surprise of the evening. But it was the seamless interchange between dialogue with the audience and the music that made the 90 minutes an entertaining and memorable show, a more serious-comedy performance in the style of Steel Panther’s routine.
Double Experience was the opening band for the evening. They are a rock band based in Ottawa, Ontario that was formed in the summer of 2011. The band consists of vocalist and front man Ian Nichols and guitarist Brock Tinsley. They have released three albums with most of their success obtained in Europe, where they tour regularly.
Editors Note *
I saw Danko Jones once a few years ago . He stated at the time he was the best Rockstar on the planet and that we as fans are lucky to be in his presence. I never planned on doing any coverage of this artist due to the off-putting nature of that performance and although I only stayed about five minutes into his set I was glad John was covering a current performance because I believe firmly in the freedoms we all have t0 like certain artists or to walk away and listen to something else . Thanks John for your honest review .
With the advent of music streaming, it’s hard for bands to stay relevant nowadays and as we approach the 2020’s, it’s even harder for young bands who started after the days where CD sales ruled the roost. So with the launch and headlining world tour in support of their third album BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, it should be commended that ISSUES tried to mix things up a bit to appeal to a larger audience.
An American metalcore band founded in 2012 and based in Atlanta, Georgia, the band currently consists of lead vocalist Tyler Carter, guitarist/vocalist AJ Rebollo, bassist Skyler Acord, and drummer Josh Manuel. They are known for their combination of metalcore, nu metal, pop and contemporary R&B. The self-titled debut album, ISSUES, climbed to #9 on the Billboard charts in 2012 based on a DJ infused metalcore sound which was unique to the market at the time. But things evolve and on December 4, Issues brought their Beautiful Oblivion tour to Club Soda in Montreal, Canada.
Playing all 13 tracks as well as their singles from their first 2 albums, ISSUES played an electrifying set covering all the checklists required for metalcore bands from hand pumping to encouraging moshing. What was fascinating was the standout differences between the songs from their earlier work to BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION. From a traditional metalcore sound to a more broader pop-synced sound found in BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, it shows that ISSUES tried to make themselves appealing to the larger, commercial audience – with a large amount of success. BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION songs such as Tapping out and Drink About It blended perfectly with the set while the more dance-like song Flexin’ fell flat as it required a pre-recorded background beat to which the band hand to play to instead of creating their own sound with their performance. R & B songs like Without You and Get It Right were capable of getting the crowd going like COMA does. The crowd did not slow down to the slower song like Rain, Your Sake, Beautiful Oblivion or Downfall.
With the thirteen song from BEAUTIFUL OBLIVION, as well as Stingray Affliction, COMA, Never Lose Your Flames, The Realest, Slow me Down and, Mad At Myself as encore – ISSUES played a full setlist for their show and the energy did not stop from beginning to end. Although they still have far to go to be a “headliner”, their intent and drive to become one was apparent that evening.
Opening for ISSUES was POLYPHIA, a progessive rock band from Dallas, Texas. Not familiar with the prog rock scene, POLYPHIA were touring in support of their album NEW LEVELS NEW DEVILS released in 2018. A young band, yet were formed in 2010, played a melodic rock sound similar to bands like Supertramp but had no vocals.