Sunday, May 14, 2017

Soo Art Rocks Concert Review!!

Hey everyone, it's time at last to review Friday night's Soo Art Rocks concert at The Canadian Nightclub, so what should you know on this ambitious hybrid event? Good attendance overall, and though it tapered off a bit late, the bands wrapping up the night did get more of a crowd on the floor. Most of the performers had merchandise on sale (Bizotic even had some artwork to go along with the theme), and in terms of the art vendors, they were set up on the far wall of the venue near the soundboard, save for Chandra Barnett, who got the pool table there for her photography display. She, Brenton Ellis, Aaron Knight, and photographer Josh Pace had lots of material to display, and though prices were largely on request, pieces were definitely moving, and hopefully they got some great exposure regardless! And true to the pre-event teasers, a print of a Josh photo of A Dire Setback was indeed the door prize. This show also saw the debut of local YouTube personality Kyle Foster as the apparent permanent MC for Live705 events, so how did he do?

Good, but he did come across as a little nervous, often talking a little too fast between bands. Also, he only introduced bands and discussed the show immediately after sets, rather than setting up bands before they began playing. Things should get ironed out with time though! And lastly before reviewing the bands, local death metal duo Them dropped out of the show early on Friday due to "personal reasons", as per promoters Live705 on the Facebook event page. Hopefully nothing bad happened, Tyler & Anthony have been missed on public stages!

The night opened with a set by artists from the Soo York City hip hop collective, marking the first time that I've seen an S.Y.C. branded set like this rather than a solo artist from there. Shane "DJ Seith" Erickson was on hand to mix tunes and program backing tracks for the rappers, and the set started intriguingly with him walking us through his selections of vinyl records to mix together and asking for crowd input. It almost felt like the mix originated on Friday.... did it? There were three rappers from Soo York City on Friday, namely Kodex, Rick-E, and St. James, who each got solo showcases with scattered backing rhyme help, while the guys also collaborated on a couple of tracks too. The guys have rap skill, and though there were some nerves at times, I liked the informal nature as they helped Seith get their tracks ready. Fun opener that definitely appealed to rap lovers in attendance, and hopefully they keep at it!

Seith also DJed between bands in the latter half of the night, starting after Pointless' set, with his turntable set up beside the stage. This would definitely appeal to fans of his solo DJing, and those who hate dead air between bands, but he oddly didn't talk to the crowd or act as a hype man for the show proper (possibly because of Kyle hosting.) Still, if you like DJ Seith's vinyl mixes, you were thrown a bone!

Next was Stereo North frontman Andrew Pucci (a.k.a. Pooch) with a solo acoustic set, and while I have seen Andrew live multiple times fronting punk bands, I wasn't overly familiar with his own solo work. Largely, his solo music is more in the realm of alternative/indie rock, as seen on songs like "Won't Find Me" and "Time Machine", but he did bring out "Nobody" (which was written for Stereo North before their hiatus began), and his closer "Lust Or Lost" was actually heavy in tone, and is asking for full band input. He did cover an out of left field song too, namely Drake's "Hotline Bling", and yes, Pooch's version does sound better! I understand that Andrew is aiming to form a full band to play his solo material, and he does have a solid base so far to draw on, with his voice suiting the songs, and his guitar work was melodic and pleasant throughout! I do miss his punk band work, but Andrew's doing good stuff on his own, and hopefully he keeps on the upward path!

Third was local funk/alternative hard rock quartet Bizotic, and if you saw them at Live705's March Mash-Up, then their set will have been very familiar, with a largely similar set list comprised of songs like "Record Light", "Subway Delay", and "Dirty Time Machine". That said, they were tighter sounding this time around, and you could hear Louise Lamothe's trumpet playing better, so that all worked fine! B.J. Swire continued to rock the keytar as well as you can rock that instrument, and Travis St. Amour was a reliable presence on drums, but honestly, Brad Griffith seemed a little less confident, bantering less between songs and not introducing many of them. Bizotic are carving a good niche for themselves though, with a sound that's hard to pin down, but hard rocking enough to appeal to many listeners, so hopefully we hear much more from them soon!

In the middle of the night, we had the live debut of Pointless, the new band from Treble Charger guitarist Bill Priddle, Pillory bassist Jordan Leach, and Ashes To Dust drummer David Peredun, so what do we know about them now? Well, genre descriptions of "drone/noise/psych" were bang on, though those specific sounds were more of the sole genre of their songs rather than internal hybrids, so their songs all sounded different. That said, if you were hoping for something sounding like Treble Charger, you'll be disappointed, but certain Pointless tracks shared elements of Bill's indie band The Priddle Concern from what I know of that group. The guys are all talented musicians, and seemed to play off of each other well, but Bill could have been more confident and vocal on stage, only rarely talking between songs, none of which being announced by name. The "dronier" songs may be an acquired taste, but Pointless immediately stand out among local bands, and it'll be curious to hear how they progress!

Fifth were Live705's flagship alternative punk quartet A Dire Setback, and they kept on their steady upward momentum with a high energy set full of increasingly familiar songs! Their seven song set included songs like "Wasting Away", "Kicking & Screaming", and their cover of "Counting Stars", while their new self-titled song returned as their encore. I've seen A Dire Setback a lot lately, and while there isn't a lot new to say compared to their Easter Bash set, they had a solid set that showcased their enthusiasm and high impact sound, with Chris Nielsen a firecracker as usual on guitar, Larry Babic more and more confident on lead vocals, and Nick Kainula kept the rhythm nicely on drums throughout himself! Very solid set for punk fans, and definitely keep an eye out for much more into the summer!

Co-headlining on Friday were alternative/hard rock trio The Din, who kicked things off for their set by debuting their new original song "Give Me A Reason", which got a solid reception! Also playing familiar songs like "Alleyways & Apartments" and "Suburban Dream", plus a surprise rendition of "Potato" for an encore, The Din continued with their lively, freewheeling brand of alternative originals with verve and good humour, and fans definitely ate up their set, partly thanks to frontman Mike Haggith's dalliances into the crowd later on. His vocals were on point, Tammy Hill laid down some solid guitar solos, and Brandan Glew's drumming was a fine compliment as usual, so fans had nothing to worry about musically! The Din gave it just fine on Friday night, and you know to expect more of the same in the coming months, so don't miss out!
And finally, your headliners on Friday night were fellow local alt-hard rock quartet Id Iota, who welcomed ex-RedD Monkey cellist Pete Mozarowski as a guest performer for their set! Honestly, his input on songs could have been more substantial, as he was often hard to hear when playing, but when I'm used to seeing him play with one guitarist, (not two and a bassist) that may be a given. With the benefit of a visible setlist, I can confirm that they played newer originals like "Cop Drama", "Deep Empty", and "Blind Spots" during their set, and the guys kept up their varied styles within, dipping into funk, ska, alternative, punk, and hard rock at varying times throughout. Christian Lemay's lead vocals were just fine, and Dustin Goodall shined on guitar himself! I'm not 100% positive, but it sounded like Christian said that this was drummer Blair St. John's last show with Id Iota before moving to Ottawa. If true and I wasn't hearing things, best of luck, he'll be missed!

Id Iota delivered a fun set, so hopefully they're not off the stage for too long, and keep an eye out for more on their first full length CD! Overall, Soo Art Rocks was a very solid night of musical action for many tastes (not to mention some nice art on display), and everyone performed nicely for the occasion! Without rehashing certain events from the Easter Bash, there were no prolonged delays on Friday, so don't worry about that aspect. You can check out our photos at this link or via our Facebook page, and I did film all 7 musical acts, so what do we have? Below, you can check out a montage of the Soo York City collective's set (about 1 minute of each MC), Andrew Pucci playing "She Died First", Bizotic playing "Psychic Vampire", Pointless playing an original song (can you help name it?), A Dire Setback playing "Catastrophe", The Din playing their newest "Give Me A Reason", and Id Iota playing "Long D", though that title may be incomplete!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our Alter Bridge preview and more tomorrow! Thanks everyone!

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