Saturday, August 17, 2013

The New Mr and Mrs

So for the past 9 months we have been preparing for a new addition into the family. If that wasn't crazy enough we decided we wanted to get married before he came into this world. So we threw together a wedding within 4 days! Thanks to everyone who came out to the last minute event! Our son is coming soon!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Under The Ocean -Seeds Day 5

Week 2 started on Tuesday at The Roxy! Another week full of bands duking it out to prove they are the best around town! I was saddened to see that unlike the first week (at least the weekdays) they weren't giving out free beer tickets upon entering the venue early, but oh well!

The Sumner Brothers opened up the night just as I was walking in. I noticed a few things right off the bat that raised my eyebrow. First off, all the members of the crowd up front wore plaid or long sleeve shirts and cowboy hats or other old school hats. The thing I love about Fox Seeds is that there is no specific genre requirement. As long as it's rocking, it's accepted. Song after song I tried to put these guys in a specific genre, and even by the end of their set, I didn't know what to call them. The best I could come up with is country-folk-alterative-blues-rock. Both singers were brothers, and guitar players, but both of them had very different tones which made for great variance in their songs. Speaking of songs, each had it's own flavour. They had some more blues rock tunes, then some more country sounding tunes and some straight up progressive alternative tunes. I think what really worked is that each player of the band had a different flavour that they contributed. The first guitarist was very blues driven with all his leads having a nice bluesy tone to them. The second guitar player had more of a country style of playing, more chords and his vocal tone had a certain cry that just made your soul weep. The drummer had a definite country flavour to his drumming, which is something I don't often see. Some great snare and hi-hat work. To finish it all off, the bassist had some awesome alternative bass lines. They were nice and flowing, but had some complex lines and fills. Overall it was a real treat for the ears.

Following and closing up the night was the Oceanographers. We have seen them perform a few times now. They recently won this year's Cellar Launch Project. They were releasing their EP this night and had some free copies for people to grab. I don't know what it was, but something was off that night. It just didn't sound as together as other nights I've seen them. Normally, they have some great dynamics and such a groove that you sink into some kind of trance while they fill your mind with sounds and visions. Though they weren't far off from previous performances, I did notice that this one lacked in dynamics. Some pitchy notes by the vocalist and some missed notes from the guitarist could have contributed to this. Normally, I don't focus on those things, but when it's reoccurring I feel I have to mention it. Just saying it how I heard it. Some great keyboard work though by the lead singer. Near the end of their set they seemed to have recovered their groove a bit more. The album is fantastic however. If you have a chance, definitely check it out!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Than Just Decent - Seeds Day 4

The last night of the Fox Seeds week 1! Big thanks again to the FOX 99.3, Budweiser, and The Roxy for some great nights and more ahead! With only two bands on the bill for this night, it most likely meant that they were ending early for the "regular crowd," but what ever the reason, it was PACKED already at 9pm.

Real Mad Decent is, I think, the youngest band in the competition so far. Having a very tight surf, ska, bluesy rock sound, this is the kind of music you want to blast in your car when your driving down to wreck beach on a sunny day.  Reminded me of Red Hot Chilli Peppers mixed with Funk Vigilante. This band had a fun, party-esque stage presence. The singer has a great range, grit to his voice and has some awesome vocal tones that really make the songs shine. Normally you hear a rapper who kind of sings or a singer who can kind of rap. This guy honestly nailed both. The band had such a great groove, thanks to the drummer and bassist who were locked in tight with some great funk rock beats. The guitarist really laid it down and filled out the sound. Armed with some great tunes and by the looks of things, great fans, this band should have a great career ahead of them! Keep rocking!

Columbia closed off the night with some more great music. We've heard them a few times now, and each time we hear them we tend to get a different flavour. Its like eating a jaw breaker. Each time you hear a little bit more. This set was definitely filled with lots of their rock and radio ready tunes. Sounding as awesome as always, they rocked that stage. The band had a very professional look and sound. The lead singer really did a great job as a front man for this performance. He engaged and interacted with the audience very well and switched between guitar to just singing on a few songs. This band really has a level of professionalism that will take them far!

See you next week! (Though as I'm writting this it's Wednesday and I just watched the first night of Week 2 last night!)


Saturday, August 10, 2013

We Got The Flu - Seeds Day 3

Friday night! Bring on the bands! Back at the Roxy for night 3 of the FOX Seeds! Only two bands on the bill this night, so, we didn't know what to expect! Big thanks again to the FOX and The Roxy for a great night!

With a name like The Flu, I didn't expect to enjoy them as much as I did! Get me sick more often! A combination of Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins, this band just TORE UP the stage. I have yet to see such a passionate performance from a band in the competition so far. Super talented musicians. Dirty gritty vocals, raging guitars, humungous bass, and bombastic drums equal a fantastic sound. Somehow managing to be both abstract and progressive, yet still very commercial and top 40 rock. I think their sound fits this contest almost perfectly. They have some videos up on their Youtube channel that just blow me away. This Kelowna band has proven again that you don't need to be from a huge city to make amazing music. Good job boys!

Next up, finishing off the night was a Vancouver favourite, SplitTRACT. These boys have carved themselves quite a name in Vancouver, and tonight we saw why. This band was a well oiled machine. Fantastic sound, perfect instrumentation and a very large stage presence for a four piece. Bringing a large crowd, they treated the show as if it was just another Vancouver show (in a good way). Pulling out some epic and unusual tricks that will be remembered by us for a long while.

Giving away a brand new surfboard for free is normally a pretty big deal, but doing it at a rock show after first riding it on top of the crowd is an even bigger deal. To top it all off, he rode atop it while singing. Mad props.

Speaking of his voice.. His vocals reminded me a little of Joel's from Ninjaspy actually. If i closed my eyes I could almost imagine him on stage. All the band's recorded stuff sounds like it needs to be on the radio now, and they could blow up overnight! Go check out their Facebook page and give them some likes! I can't wait to see them again soon!

Click HERE to see the full gallery of photos!

Getting Dirty - Seeds Day 2

The second night of the Fox Seeds! First, we'd like to apologize to Sam Weber for missing his set. It was Last Shelters' first show and we could not miss it. Luckily, it was across the street at Joe's Apartment, so, we just hopped over and hopped back!

The Dirt was up first and dirty is such a great word to describe them. Their front man is true rock and roll. The way he dresses, his mick jager swagger, and his guitar playing just scream rock and roll lifestyle. Great stage presence as he sang his tunes. The drummer was pounding away and looked like he was having a blast! The songs were fantastically dynamic. Quiet parts followed by a great growing crescendo leading into monsterous choruses! The rhythm guitar was fairly solid, but I found both the rhythm guitarist and bassist not quite matching up to the performance level of the drummer and lead guitarist. That said, the rhythm guitarist did a great job playing tight pocket guitar and adding a lot of texture. The bass lines were thick and fit well into the tunes. Would love to see this guys on stage again, definitely a show!

JP Maurice closed the night with quite the opposite sound from that of The Dirt. JP Maurice had a very produced sound, yet fun and quirky. A certain charm radiated from him, reminding me of a "rockier" version of Michael Buble. After hearing his recorded stuff, I really like his vocal tone. I felt that his live vocal performance didn't quite do him justice at the Roxy. His voice was buried a little in the mix (at least from the front of the stage) so, I couldn't hear his full dynamic tone. He had great stage presence, moving nicely on stage and really making friends with the audience. The musicians he had on stage with him had played well, but they came off seeming shy and almost sad. The bassist barely cracked a smile the entire set. I would have liked to see his back up band make it more of a fun experience. The tunes themselves are really fun sounding, so why not make it a fun night? JP's charisma really filled the room though. He seems very talented and his tracks sound amazing! I really hope to see him again!

Big thanks again to The Roxy and The FOX 99.3 for a fun and great night! See you again tomorrow for The Flu and SplitTRACT!

For full photos click HERE


Tonight was a busy night for music! Pigeon Park's EP release at Venue, The Sword playing the Biltmore, The FOX Seeds going on at the Roxy and Last Shelter playing at Joe's Apartment. So, we picked our battles. The FOX Seeds and our buddies from Last Shelter playing at Joe's apartment. Big thanks to Clyde for helping us out!

First up at Joe's was the Soul Robbing Bastards. True to their name they stole everyone's soul and played it back in the way of music! This instrumental band jammed out super hard. Very blues inspired tunes. The guitarist was quite fantastic. He had a number of effects that really added depth and change to his riffs. Great use of dynamics and tension and release. A perfect way to open up the night.

We have been to many Last Shelter jams, but this was their first show on stage. Even though it was the band's debut, they all had been on stage many times with other projects. They handled the stage like pros and covered the whole space. Perfect movement from the guitars and bass. The singer took to the stage like a madman and really got the crowd hyped. Showing no fear, he was jumping over the steel bar, running, and jogging all over that stage! Both guitarists, at different parts of the show, ran in front of the stage and rocked with the crowd sporting wireless set ups. For a first show, it was a one to be remembered!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Seeds Have Been Planted! Seeds Day 1

The FOX (99.3 FM) always does an amazing job at supporting the local music scene. I could spend the entire time talking about the FOX.. The Fox rocks; 'nuff said. Partnering up with Budweiser, they are bringing the Seeds back to the Roxy for 2013. For those who don't know, The Fox Seeds is a yearly competition to find the best of the best in the Vancouver rock scene. Not limited to just rock, but definitely most bands fall into the rock vein. The winner of the FOX Seeds competition gets $10,000 in gear from Long and McQuade,  five tour dates with the Sam Roberts Band and gets to record an EP with the legendary Garth Richardson. Quite a nice little bundle if I do say so myself!

The Seeds this year started off with a bang. Good old rock and roll filled the Roxy as Mad Shadow opened up the competition. The band looked as if they were warped straight from the 70s. Floral shirts and long hair included. They played a super tight set of original blues rock tunes that sounded like they came straight from Robert Plant and Jimmy Page's brains. Some great songwriting and playing skills all around. The vocalist had a neat old school rasp and growl to his voice. The bassist (rocking an old school Rickenbacker bass) laid down a great foundation as the drummer locked in some tight and/or laid back grooves (depending on the song). The guitarist played some killer solos, and great fretwork. I would have liked to have seen him have a lead channel or maybe something to color his tone on a few songs in order to make his solos leap out of the speakers a bit more. Their new album is up on Youtube so check it out HERE. Then go buy a copy from the band!

A few years can do wonders for a band. The lead singer used to sing in a band in which I joined after he'd left years ago, their guitarist tried out for a band I was in when we were looking for a rhythm guitarist, and when I was in another band, we had booked a show with Black Sugar (back when they were Moon Gypsies and The Drop D Experience) - But, seeing them at the Roxy last night was like seeing a whole new band. We had picked up a copy of their three song EP possibly about a year ago (?) and devoured it. These tunes were seriously tight. Some very commercial, but still in your face rock and roll. Rob's voice cuts through the mix like a bullet through snow. Alex's guitar work is catchy and full of hooks. We were excited to see them live and were not disappointed. Cranking up the energy to 11, they stole that stage. Rob's use of vocal effects really added depth to the tracks and his voice was spot on, in even comparison to their EP. A skilled rhythm section that was extra tight allowed the guitar and vocals to flow overtop. In a couple parts of their set they even played off each other by having a small guitar and vocal duel. Overall, a very tight set. Keep rocking guys!

Closing up the night was The Post War. Having the heaviest sound of the night, and more of a modern rock vibe, they definitely stood out from the other bands. We know that it's hard translating what's on an album to a live stage setting, but, we found that what really worked on the album was the epic feel of the tracks. The drama in the songs. Tension and release. It didn't quite translate over during their set at the Roxy. Maybe it was just the mixing from the sound man, but the sound was unbalanced in that the lead guitar was quite far in the back, and the vocals were quite buried in the mix and hard to hear clearly. After hearing the recordings I wish we could have heard some of the rasp and clarity of the vocals. They were definitely dull and muffled in the speakers. I didn't hear some of the roars that were in the recordings and the dynamics didn't seem as crisp. Perhaps a little more focus on the pronunciation of the lyrics would help? However, the band as a whole seemed very tight and well rehearsed. The bass was thick and pounding perfectly filling the lower end as he head-banged away all night. The drumming was also super tight and epic sounding, perfectly complimenting the tracks. As mentioned before, the lead guitar was a bit quiet compared to the rhythm guitar, so, some of his work was unfortunately buried. Their recordings and music videos are amazing. Reminding me of Deftones, A Perfect Circle and Audioslave. Definitely go have a look/listen and support this great band!

Big thanks again to the FOX for putting on these nights! This is the first of many! Tomorrow (today as I write this) is The Dirt, Sam Weber and JP Maurice. All shows are free so come on out!

Check out the full gallery of photos HERE

A Not-So Miserable Night

On Tuesday night, James and I had the honour of covering the Misery Signals show at The Roxy. It's been a while since we've attended a metal show as I'm about to have a baby any day now, however, when we heard the Mis Sigs were playing, we knew we had to go! Having heard about the show super last minute (just a few hours before), we weren't sure if we'd make it... but, thanks to The Roxy staff, we got downtown and in the venue without a problem, and in time for the first of the four touring bands!

First up was Ontario band, The Kindred. I really enjoyed their sound over all. The bassist had a great tone and thick grooves that played nicely alongside their heavy, original drum lines to fill out the rhythm section. The vocals were heard clearly, and had an easy time whipping the crowd's energy levels up. A few times during the set the vocalist even jumped down from the stage and moshed with some of the audience members, as well as tried to draw those sitting down in the back up to the floor. Their use of synth/keys/loops helped give them a well rounded sound, though sometimes made parts of their songs sound a little "busy." The addition of a keyboard EQ or some pedals may help shape the synth lines to be more 'stand alone' and less thrown in as just a filler. During the intro of one of their newest songs, one guitarist used a bow across his strings, creating a really cool sound effect, and visual dynamic to his playing. Meanwhile, the other guitarist played some really intricate riffs and even a few tapping pieces throughout their set. Over all, they were tight, heavy, melodic, and a great band to see live. Next time they come back through town be sure to check them out!

The second band of the night was Elitist. This was their first time playing in Canada, and boy did they bring it! For a four piece, they had a really well filled out sound. Shredding live guitar licks, mixed with a great use of guitar in their backing tracks, helped give them that well produced, professional, and super tight, full sound without the addition of a second guitarist. Driving bass lines were timed perfectly with heavy drums. The vocalist had many tones to his voice that soared clearly above such driving instrumentals. His delivery was passionate and energetic. Well placed back up vocals from the guitarist and bassist complimented the singer's melodies, and a guest vocal spot from Kindred vocalist created a fun, collaborative energy on stage. Over all, super tight, dynamic sound and stage presence. I'm looking forward to picking up their album and giving it a good listen!

Next to hit the stage was The Color Moral. Now, this band seems like they've been around the block a few times, and they don't take shit from anyone! Early in the set the singer jumped down from the stage to break up a fight starting in the pit, giving a small speech on the "No Fucks bullshit" that you see a lot of scene bands make a killing off of nowadays and how it's "not welcome here tonight," and how the music scene is a community, we're in it together, and everyone's just out to have a good time listening to good tunes. Which I thought was great, and couldn't have been said better. By all means, mosh until you can't mosh no more, lay it all out there in the pit, just don't start fights if you get an accidental elbow to the side. If you can't handle the pit, stay out of it! Moving onto the music! -

The Color Moral had a very heavy, super tight rhythm section, melodic guitar licks trading back and forth between guitarists, clear dynamic vocals, and killer stage presence. If you have the pleasure of seeing them live, you'd catch them flipping guitars around their backs, jumping up and down, trading spots on stage, and just having a hell of a good time performing great original music. All in all, I'd say they're now one of my new favourite metal bands to see live.

Headlining the show was none other than Misery Signals! Promoting their newest album, and being a band with such a large following, we were shocked to hear them playing the Roxy, and even more shocked to hear that the last time they came to Vancouver they played Tom Lee Music Hall just down the street! During their set they admitted that this was their first 19+ show of this tour, and were worried that the audience would mainly hang back at the bar and stare rather than rock out up front, but were pleasantly surprised with Vancouver's epic reaction to their tunes. Anyone who's been to enough metal shows in this city knows that Vancouver's metal fans bring the thunder. I have never seen The Roxy so packed, and so full of energy in my years reviewing shows there. The whole front was a pit, complete with stage diving and crowd surfers!

Misery Signals put on a real show. It felt like I was at a festival. The singer had such a dynamic presence and voice, clearly heard above their amazing guitar work which ranged from heavy thrash to crispy crunch sounds to beautiful clean interludes. The use of guitar effects truly added depth to each track. The rhythm section was so tight, really driving each song and creating great energy, despite the bassist having to sit the entire set due to being on crutches. (Kudos for still rocking out as hard as the other members/bands despite the injury!) The guys themselves are extremely personable. After their set, and song-and-a-half encore, the band stayed up on stage to chat with anyone who wanted to come say hello. After a good conversation with the vocalist, we managed to score a few autographs from the band members, and even a special text, selfie, and shoutout from the stage for our good buddy Ray who couldn't make it out to see his favourite band that night. Great guys, great music, great times.

All four bands put on a great show. One of the best over all shows I've been to in a long time. I wish them all luck on the rest of their tour, and hope to see them come back to Vancouver again sometime! Big thanks again to the Roxy for having us out. We had a great time, and look forward to covering more shows there in the future.

For the full photo gallery go HERE


Friday, August 2, 2013

Deja-Vu At Venue

VENUE in Vancouver has some of the best use of lights and stage in Vancouver besides the Commodore. It's always a blast seeing them put on local shows for some of the larger local bands. It always put a smile on the band members' faces seeing their band name up in lights. Hammer Records has seen many acts perform there just before they blew up. We also see some great bands open up for larger bands, and have seen some killer local shows there! Always a good time at Venue, even though their beer prices are a little on the more expensive side!

Aviator Shades had invited us out to cover their set later in the night, so, we actually missed the first band "Sally's Hot", but we caught COCAHALA, a 4 piece pop rock band. Right from the get go we knew we were in for a show. Their set was built for a stage like this. Dramatic first song with their bassist rocking an extra tom drum, building a tribal beat with their drummer. A whole duel keyboard setup along with laptop samples and backing tracks really provided a thick and rich sound over top. Great movement by the whole band, filling the stage and playing to their audience. We could definitely hear what we'd describe as a "No Doubt" influence in the vocals. She worked the stage well and was a confident front woman. Great set over all. Definitely not something we normally see around Vancouver.

A quick side note: The soundman for the night seemed to really like the bass. He had the bass guitar turned up too loud for almost EVERY set. We thought maybe the bass players had turned their volumes up too loud, but because it happened every set, we can bet it was the sound guy. When the bass guitar is turned up to loud it tends to drown out the guitars and even the kick drum. Yes, its nice to have a nice fat bass to fill up the sound, but when all you can hear is bass and barely hear the guitars it just doesn't work.

The Lovely Sinners was up next. We've seen these guys play a few times now and I think this was my favourite set. Once again, the soundman had the bass up too loud so lots of the intricate guitar parts were hidden, but, the three piece rocked their set. I was really able to hear more of the song structure and lyrics than with previous shows. Some great guitar solos as well, and their bassist moved and grooved around the stage. Great set!

There's a certain point in every musicians career when you see them start to break away from the pack, start to do things that set them apart. We had seen Monster Truck play VENUE when they were just a touring Ontario band, next we know they are touring the country signed with a major label. It was a little bit of Deja-Vu when Aviator Shades took to the stage with fire in their eyes. The whole crowd moved up towards the stage as they filled the bar with their brand of blues rock. Everyone seemed to be singing along, and all eyes were gazing at the band ripping it up! They played songs from their upcoming EP, some classic 'Shades tunes, and even a brand new one never heard before! The band seemed to give off a sense of professionalism. If they took this exact set, they could easily open up for any touring band across the country right now. We are glad to hear them working with producer Danny Craig of Default. We can't wait to hear the EP!

Up next was Crankshaft. Much of the crowd had dissipated due to sky-trains and the lateness of the night. Still rocking it up, we found that once again both guitars were buried under the bass and we could barely hear the ripping solos or fine guitar work. We do have to apologize for leaving early, due to Rose and I are expecting our son just about any day now and can't be up and out too late!