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.
Many aspects of heavy metal music have historically originated through Gothic culture dating back to the 18th century. Many classic literary novels were also born through that culture including Edgar Allen Poe’s work in the 19th century. For those who have forgotten high school English classes, he is an author most known for his novel “The Raven” which has been popularised many times throughout Culture from movies, video games and even The Simpsons. So naturally, the time has come for heavy metal music and The Raven to merge forming RavenWord, an Italian symphonic power metal band who are releasing their first album, Transcendence, out January 31 via Rockshots Records.
Consisting of singer Chiara Tricarico (Sound Storm, Moonlight Haze), drummer Michele Olmi (Chronosfear, Skeleeton) and bass/guitar player Cesare Ferrari (Choirs Of Veritas) , RavenWord captures the romantic and decadent poetic themes typical of Edgar Allan Poe’s period, combined with an equally decadent symphonic metal sound. Containing 13 tracks, Transcendence plays out to a similar style compared with other European metal bands with crisp toned vocals, polished guitar solos and quick bass rhythms.
Starting off the bat with the opening track Blue Roses to the third track (and opening single) No More, Tricarico carries the songs using her mezzo-sopranic voice. Handling all of the axe work, Ferrari notes were produced and synced well creating a seamless transition between the three tracks. The Fourth track, Lullaby Of The Last Petal is when things slow down with Tricarico lowering her voice to more soprano level and keeping that range to the fifth track, Purity. The tempo picks up by the sixth track, Rain of Stars, after a brief piano solo. The rest of the album follows the same formula with The Swansong replacing Lullaby of the Last Petal on the ballad list. The stand out song was The Distance, the twelfth song on the album which contained subtle Celtic overtones at the beginning which created a stand out effect from the rest.
Transcedence is a well produced and organized album with consistent and clear sound from each artist. Riffs and Rythmns are distinctly separate with Tricarico’s notes coming in distinct and clear while remaining in the same key. The album features a calm, haunting sound with an underlying beauty, similar to themes found in Edgar Allen Poe literature. With her signature vocal style, Tricario tells stories of love, intrigue and fear while keeping in form with modern European metal style. With Transcendence, RavenWord captures the romantic and decadent poetic themes typical of Edgar Allan Poe’s period, combined with an equally decadent symphonic metal sound.
A number of heavy metal genres have developed since the emergence of heavy metal during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some genres overlap or are difficult to distinguish, but they can be identified by a number of traits such as drumming, tempo, song structure, vocal style and instrumentation. And that is what Montreal received on November 27, 2019 as Finnish folk metal legends Ensiferum came to tour with supporting acts Kalmah and Abigail Williams for a four-hour mixed evening of European and American heavy metal.
It has been well documented that Heavy Metal fans are a very dedicated and passionate bunch and the energy was raw as Ensiferum opened their headlining set. First founded in 1995, they are a Finnish folk band with 7 albums released. Through many personnel changes, they have continued to play and record music based on Nordic concepts and stories. Opening with riffs off of “Ad Victoriam”, lead singer markus Toivenen cranked the riffs for “Blood is the Price of Glory” and then through gas on a hot crowd with “One More Magic Potion”. “Token of Time”, “From Afar” and “Smoking Ruins”. Taking a break to salute a crowd chanting Ensiferum, guitarist Petri Loondis started “Two of Spades” with “Heathen Horde” next. Still chanting Ensiferum, the crowd jumped to “For those about to Fight for Metal”. Toivenen quieted down the crowd for a tribute to fallen warriors over the world before “Way of the Warrior” played. “Burning Leaves”, “In My Sword I Trust”, “Ahti” and “Victory Song” closed the set with “Hero in a Dream” and “Lai lai Hai” playing out an encore that finished right at midnight.
Supporting act Kalmah could have been mistaken for the headlining band with the reaction they received. Playing what amounted to almost an hour-long set, they played their songs from their 8 album history since 1998. Opening with “Swamphell”, the crowd was pumped. “The Evil Kin” and “Moon of the Knights” followed suit. Pausing to give a quick background of the band, lead singer Pekka Kokko clearly didn’t understand that Kalmah needed no introduction here in Montreal. Appreciating the roars of support, he kicked into “They Will Return” before playing the single (and title) of their latest album “Seventh Swamphony”. “Heroes to Us, “The Third, the Magical” and the “Black Waltz” followed before Kokko had to remind the audience that they were the “supporting” act. They crowd roared as Kalmah played their last song of the evening, “Hades” and they chanted for more.
Opening the evening was “Abigail Williams”, a black metal band from Olympia, WA founded by Ken Sorceron. Fresh off the release of their fourth album “Walk Beyond the Dark”, they played a memorable and entrancing performance filled with rapturous bursts of string accompaniments with melancholic tones of shadow and despair. Powerful guitars by Bryon O’Sullivan shifted between slithering rhythms, contemplative grooves and all-out assaults of pure metal riffs. Playing through an eight song playlist, Sorceron proved that he is the heart, soul and mind of Abigail Williams.
It’s always fun to watch a long-term successful band play during their prime years. So pop-metalcore band A Day to Remember (ADTR) brought their Degenerates tour to Place Bell in Montreal on November 5, 2019. Also featuring I Prevail, Beartooth and Can’t Swim, the evening promised to be a long evening filled with chart topping rock hits and It did not disappoint.
But bands can’t do it alone if the audience doesn’t bring in the energy. The modest crowd were clearly true metalcore fans as the floor area of the show clearly came to mosh – a trademark staple for this genre of music and something ADTR has built their name on throughout their careers.
As headliners go, ADTR have been around since 2003 and have paid their dues. Their 90 minute setlist played the hits (with some notable omissions) but with the upcoming release of their seventh album, You’re Welcome, ADTR had a large catalogue of songs to fit in and did not waste any time opening with “The Downfall of us All” and then immediately breaking into “All I Want”. With the mosh pit kicking into gear, ADTR played “Mr. Highway”, “Paranoia and Sticks and Stones”. Lead singer Jeremy McKinnon then encouraged the crowd to surf the crowd surfer, where someone stands on another crowd surfer and surfs them like a surfboard. Following an immediate “safety” warning, people proceeded to surf the crowd surfer to some funny live footage shots on the background screen.
“Better off this way” kicked off next to “Right Back at it Again”. ADTR gave the audience a foreshadow of their upcoming album by playing their first single off the album, “Degenerates”. “Bullfight”, “Sometimes You’re the Hammer” and then the tempo slowed through to “End of Me” until McKinnon encouraged the crowd the thrash to old-school metal and then “2nd sucks” cranked out closing with “I’m Made of Wax”. Encores included an acoustic of “If it Means a Lot to You”, “All signs Point to Lauderdale”, and “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle”.
Not to be missed out, and hardly an opening act, I Prevail set the tone with a metalcore performance of their own. Fresh off the success of their second album Trauma, singers Brian Burkheiser and Eric Vanlerberghe needed little effort to pump up the crowd who were chanting “I Prevail” many times in between songs. Playing mostly songs off of Trauma, they also mixed in “Scars” and “Come and Get it” from their debut album Lifelines. The reaction they received from the crowd and the energy in the mosh pit was equal to what ADTR received. They will certainly be playing again in Montreal.
Beartooth is a band from Michigan who have just released their third album, Disease. Their sound is described as a mix of metalcore with nu metal. Can’t Swim opened the evening. They are from New Jersey and released an album titled This Too Won’t Pass, on November 16, 2018
Throughout the history of music, there has been many examples of musical artists or performers who have had a successful song or album and, for whatever reasons, have not been able to duplicate their previous success. Sometimes, artists dubbed “one-hit wonders” in a particular country have had great success in other countries. Others break into other facets of industry such as production or management. And some, like CRAZYTOWN, continue to tour based on their prior success to small audiences, like the one in Montreal on November 3, 2019.
It’s not to say that CRAZYTOWN is bad, after all, their debut album THE GIFT OF GAME was a platinum seller based on the success of their #1 international single “Butterfly”. Their follow-up album, DARKHORSE in 2002 failed to achieve the same level of success, contributing to the band’s break-up in 2003. They reunited in 2015 to record BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS but separated again in 2017. Original member Shifty Shellshock rebranded the band into CRAZYTOWN X and continues to perform the bands hits.
And with only about 30 people in the audience, which included friends and the opening bands, Shifty with Roland Banks on drums and Elias Tannous on guitars with bass and mixes pre-recorded, they gave a high energy performance. A product of rap-metal from the early 2000’s, CRAZYTOWN X singles contained interesting experimental music as many of their songs contained different styles of mixes to go along with the popularity of the musical genre at the time. And Shifty performed admirably in that style, playing a random order of their songs from THE GIFT OF GAME and BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS. Their set opened with Black Cloud leading into Darkside, both from GIFT OF GAME before kicking it into Lemonface from BRIMSTONE SLUGGERS and then Lollipop Porn. Surprisingly, the played “Butterfly” next. Afterwards, they played (in no order) Megatron, Born to Raise hell and songs from DARKHORSE. They even played an encore, finishing the evening with “Revolving Door” and “Toxic”. Shifty then stayed for pictures and to chat with people. It was a very entertaining performance.
Opening for CRAZYTOWN X was a band Called BLACK OXYGEN from Kansas City. Formed by brothers David and Nick Lyle, they were a two-piece band whose style was reminiscent of Swirl 360 – a previous band form the late 90’s who had a “one-hit-wonder”. The band has released four Albums “The Times of Our Lives (Collection)”, “City Of Angels” EP, “Beating Time”, and “The American Dream”.
Warming up the crowd was SPECIAL OPS, a local Montreal rock band who are releasing their fifth(!) album in November 2019. First formed in 2002, the band is currently composed of lead singer A.K. Johnson (Sam Odeh), guitarists Alex Crowe and Christopher Groulx, bassist Waldo Thornhill, and drummer Manuel Bessette.