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The Metal Alliance Tour at the Commodore Ballroom – review

WHAT A NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Although I paced myself  I am quite amazed I was able to wake up and do my entertainment report this morning.  If this tour were outside in the summer it would be the perfect base for a festival.  Anthrax, + Exodus + High on Fire + Municipal Waste + Holy Grail = all killer, no filler.  Truthfully, I normally like skipping a group so I can rest my old bones – with a lineup like this I had no choice but to enjoy every moment.  Let’s cover this band by band..

I can’t believe that I was sent Holy Grail’s ‘s first EP in 2006.  Now touring their sophomore LP I have to stop calling them a new band…   WIth their strong 80’s influence I am very impressed that they have been able to avoid being a novelty act.  It was great to see how much the crowd respected these guys.   Ride The Void is a great record, definitely worth buying.  James Luna’s vocals are solid and strong, and the dueling guitar harmonies are played perfectly.  These guys are not going away.

Municipal Waste were awesome as always.  I normally go see them because of their obvious Anthrax-ish groove, so I was kind of worried it would be too much to see them the same night as Anthrax.  It wasn’t.  They came, they saw, they destroyed.

Unfortunately I missed High on Fire the last time they came to town, so this was my first time seeing them in a venue instead of on a festival stage.  I truthfully can’t properly describe what I experienced but I do know that I loved it.

Every band was great, but when Exodus hit the stage they took the music to a different level. We all know they are awesome, I put on their records all the time, but you can still forget how amazing they are until you see Gary Holt play.  If I was introducing him to my grandmother, I would introduce Gary as a”professional heavy metaller”.  Anyone can wail a bunch of sick solos, but he’s the full package.  Incredible rhythm playing, great leads and he’s written some of the most memorable riffs in the history of thrash.  The guy is a legend and he surrounds himself with veteran musicians.   Exodus rules.

This was my second time seeing Anthrax since September.  It’s also my second time seeing them without Charlie Benante.  I prefered this show… The Anthrax groove was back, and fill in in guitarist Jon Donais did a solid job.  He played the parts perfectly and didn’t showboat – stayed to the side and let us watch Frankie, Joey and Scott.

Joey really seemed to like the Vancouver habit of lighting up indoors.  I think he also really enjoyed the barrage of herbs tossed on the stage… at one point a lit spliff was passed up and he quickly disappeared behind the drum riser.  You don’t see this in other cities anymore, and it could be the reason Vancouver was the only Canadian date of the tour.  The positives of this habit are obvious:  a very chill, happy metal crowd and the ability to enjoy concerts like we used to.  However the negative is that since there is so much smoke, many people also sneak cigarettes.  After a few years of non smoking clubs I’m really not used to the heavy smoke smell, and I’m feeling a really rough chest this morning.  I’m gonna have to bring the ol’ striped jersey out of retirement to be my “I don’t care if it stinks of smoke” concert shirt.

I’m tired of bands playing complete albums – it’s kind of annoying to know the entire setlist before the show starts, however Anthrax added a twist on the tour.  They played all of Among the Living last night, but played it as record sides.   They came onstage, played “Side a”, changed it up a bit with some other songs, then played “side b” (One World was the greatest thing ever)  and finished with some greatest hits (including I’m the Man!!!!).  I love Anthrax because they love the same music that I do.  Before they hit the stage the DJ played side one of KISS ALIVE II, during “In The End’ beautiful paintings of Dio and Dimebag Darrell covered the speakers, Joey’s voice shone when they covered AC/DC and when the show ended, Rainbow’s “Long Live Rock N Roll” came over the speakers.  Joey even stayed on stage a bit to sing along.  He is one of the great metal singers, true to the line of Halford and Dio.


I didn’t bother taking pictures last night but wanted to add some media to this blog – I thought you may like this picture.




Interview with Voivod

Voivod’s thirteenth album “Target Earth” was released yesterday.  It’s the first one to feature Dan “Chewy” Mongrain on guitar.  Drummer Michel “Away” Langevin skyped me to talk about it.  I definitely need to get a better mic if I’ll continue skyping my interviews, but this is still a great chat – check it out!





Zappa plays Zappa at the Commodore Ballroom, includes interview

Another mind-blowing set by the ZPZ crew.  I’m not gonna go into too many details reviewing it as I know that the tour is hitting the east coast early next year and I’m worried about spoilers.  That and since I don’t have a boss I can do whatever I want  – nyah nyah nyah!

I spoke with Dweezil before the show, gotta admit I was a little worried that I would either over-nerd, or not be nerd enough.  He was really cool and chill and casually played guitar the whole chat… which was pretty sweet.

I think a great way to review this show is from the point of view of my lady – we listened to Overnight Sensation  and Hot Rats a bunch last month to get her in the right mindset and she was pretty excited.  Shortly after walking in she stated that “there are even less girls here than a metal show”.  I went to the bar for a pint and some dude came up and congratulated me on bringing a girl to the show, his girlfriend “finds the music to weird”.  Well, she loved it.   Danced for the entire two and a half hour set, later told me that girls shouldn’t be afraid of how the music sounds at home because live and loud it just becomes funky, heavy dance music.  I was very happy.


Dweezil is calling this the “decades” tour, where they are going through all era’s from the 60s to 80s.   It’s the smallest ZPZ band yet, six people on stage making a huge sound.   If you have the time, it’s really worth the extra few bucks to see the soundcheck.   What else can I say?  It’s awesome – if you haven’t seen them yet then make sure to, if you have seen them then go see them again.

I didn’t film this but found it using the “internet”.   I think the dude posted a bunch from the show.. see ya next year!

Corrosion of Conformity at the Biltmore. Includes interview with Reed Mullin

Once again my move to the Waste Coast was justified… I got to see C.O.C. twice in one year.  Predictably,  my review will be full of observations about the Vancouver scene but let’s start with the interview.

I spoke with drummer Reed Mullin before the show, this is a very important interview for all musicians as we talked about the way they are distributing their new ep “Megalodon“.   Sorry about the occasional scratches on the sound – I’ve gone from using a pro on-air studio to sitting in a tour van with an audio recorder.  Deal with it, I know you miss my dulcet tones.

When I walked into the club, which has a basement feel and a very low stage, the coat check girl asked if I wanted to check my water bottle as well.  I was skeptical, being used to begging for a plastic glass that you have to fill up in the bathroom.  Lo and behold, on a table beside the bar were two giant fountain style jugs of clean fresh water and a stack of glasses.  Just like Alice Cooper says, It’s the little things…”

I saw two of the opening acts, a local group named Black Wizard who were quite good and Saviours from California.  I’ll be tracking down some Saviours tunes to add to the Galaxie playlist – they were great.

I’m starting to make some metal friends, but as usual I spent most of the time wandering alone observing the Vancouverites and their ultra-polite ways.  Some dude noticed my Agnostic Front t-shirt and came running out of the crowd to tell me that someone else a few rows ahead of him was wearing a matching backpatch.  Very nice of him to point that out….   A girl stepped on my toe and had to check three times that I was alright before moving back to her friends, and the DJ was playing vinyl.  When the bands were on stage he was actually able to leave the needle on the record with absolutely no fear that someone would knock it off the groove.  I also noticed that most punk rock girls in BC look like Spike and Liz from Degrassi or Kim Kelly from Freaks and Geeks.  I went to the bartender, pointed to the Porter and said “I’d like to try that one”, meaning I wanted a pint.  He actually poured me a taster glass first.   Throughout the night I enjoyed a local Porter, a taste of Vancouver’s finest and a Nutbrown Ale.  Very satisfying buzz for a night of stoner metal…

Corrosion of Conformity killed it!   Roughly the same set as the Montreal show, with a bigger focus on Eye For An Eye and the new EP.   Woody Woodrow must have drunk just the right amount of beer because his playing was spot on and he was jumping and dancing around with a huge smile on his face the entire time.  Mike Dean’s bass was super Sabbath-y, and not surprisingly Reed destroyed the drums.   All in all the show was as enjoyable as the last time I saw them at Foufs – they are a band you can depend on to satisfy every time.



oh yeah, if you`re into stoner metal I’ve recently discovered Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats.  Check em out!

Review: Alice Cooper and Geoff Tate at the Queen Elizabeth Theater, Vancouver. Includes interview

What a night!  What a show!  What a venue!   Let’s begin with the opening act…

My first time seeing Geoff Tate since he left Queensryche… and it was good… really, really good.  We chatted before the show and he mentioned how nice it is not to be playing with a click track and having the freedom to play around onstage.  Knowing there was no click really showed how great a singer this guy is.  His voice killed, his band was solid and he truly seemed to be enjoying himself.  He does walk around a little stiff, kind of like seeing an adult contemporary pop star rocking out in a casino, but that’s who Geoff Tate is.  I don’t think Queensryche with a new singer will be half  as good as his solo shows.  Let me throw in that his new record is quite good as well.   Not at all what you’d expect, worth checking out.

The arena is kind of like if St Denis Theater in Montreal was the size of Theatre Maisoneuve.  This place is huge, and it was packed.  I’m guessing twice as many people as I’ve seen Alice headline in front of in a long time.  I heard people talking outside that they had driven from Saskatoon for this gig.  It was great to see Alice getting the audience he deserves.

It was a very different Alice show for me.   A lot less theatrics than usual and a way bigger focus on the bands and songs. Kind of like seeing an arena show in the early 90’s.  I think that has a lot to do with Orianthi joining the group.  She is truly one of the great guitarists of our time, she’s got that little something that pushes her over the top.  The rest of the band is great as always, but she has truly taken them to the next level.  The songs featured from the Poison-era on to today including House Of Fire, Hey Stoopid, Dirty Diamonds and three tracks from his latest, Welcome 2 My Nightmare.  The 70’s hits were there, but the deeper cuts were from the last twenty years… although it was amazing to hear him sing the original “Welcome to my Nightmare”.  He did the straight jacket, and the biggest theatrics of the show was turning himself into a giant Frankenstein Alice, which I’m assuming he got the Iron Maiden guys to build for him during last summer’s tour.

The band ripped through the solos and pleased me with something new:  rock n roll choreography!   They moved together like a well oiled machine and it really looked great – major props for that.  Towards the end of the show Alice “raised the dead”  by covering The Doors, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Who.  It was kind of cool, but a bit much for someone who has such a huge back catalog to choose from.  I understand why he did it, but I personally don’t think it was the greatest idea.

If you haven’t heard it yet, here is the interview I did with Alice this past summer.

And while we’re at it, please support Movember.  Geoff Tate does!

Review: GWAR at the Vogue Theater

It’s gonna take me a while to figure this one out…. this tour didn’t hit Montreal so i don’t know if it’s a Vancouver thing or a tour thing but GWAR in Vancouver was…. different.

Here is the t shirt I wore last night.  Notice anything?  You can still see some white.  In Montreal you could not even hide in the balconies, last night you had to be up close in the pit if you wanted to be doused in blood.  Also, a few too many people commented on how great my Tina Turner Tour T was.  I actually felt bad about ruining it.

“We love you Vancouver!!!!!!!!!!!!”   I’ve never heard Oderus say anything nice to the crowd.  Could this be a kinder, gentler GWAR tour?  Did the loss of Corey Smoot make them rethink things?  Could they really just like it here?  Or will the public here not support a bunch of messy jerks?  I’m still trying to figure this one out.

The best kept secret about GWAR is the fact that they are a sick band.  When describing GWAR no one says “They have been touring for almost 30 years, write amazing albums and are rediculously tight!”  All you hear about are the theatrics, which by the way never disapoint.  On this tour they kill Jesus, Hitler, Obama, and Super-Hardcore-Jesus.  Setlist was great and the new guitarist fits like a glove.  They covered “Carry On My Wayward Son” as a very fitting tribute to Corey Smoot, truly almost brought a tear to my eye. By “Sick of You” I finally gave in to my childish loves and ran into the pit.

We arrived while Cancer Bats were on stage, my buddy said they are like what Billy Talent should be.  During Devildriver I finally understood how my girlfriend feels when I bring her to metal shows… it’s kind of loud, boring and doesn’t have much character or definition.

Oderus was kind enough to film this Movember promo video with me… I’m not sure what it means but it came out pretty funny.

This Friday:  My first Alice Cooper show in Vancouver!   Here’s an interview we recorded this summer after he opened for Iron Maiden in Montreal

Who says there is no scene here?

I don’t get it… everyone I meet tells me there is no scene for loud music in Vancouver, yet my mind is constantly blown by the support in this city.   Lemme tell you about Friday night.

Quebec heroes Grimskunk were playing at The Cellar, and my desire to hear some proper Quebecoise (Radio Canada sounds like a bunch of College students who went to French Immersion in Twattawa) secured my plans for the night.  I had a few concerns however…  I know they tour Europe all the time, and obviously they are huge at home but how does a very Quebec band go over in the rest of Kanada?  Not only that, but the show was the same night as Mr Chi Pig’s 50th birthday party and SNFU were going to be performing at Funky’s.  Ordinarily I would be first in line for an SNFU show, especially a hometown gig but I wasn’t gonna miss Grimskunk so I went hoping it wouldn’t be completely empty. 

We got to the gig only to find out that they were playing second on a three band bill.  Already different from home where they have headlined festivals in front of thousands.  The first band was a good solid typical punk band, and apparently the headliners were some hip lesbian punk band.   Considering there was another punk show going on I was pretty shocked to see how crowded the place was.  I’ve said it before, I love the variety of beer available at shows here so the crew grabbed a round and got ready for the show.  We went to check our coats and I got my first taste of suckmyballsbullshit from the Cellar.  They charge per item, so if I have a coat and hoodie it’s gonna cost me six bucks for the thrill of standing in line.   Out of defiance we chose to keep our coats with us for the set.   Any club owner who imposes rules like that must still be dealing with not losing his virginity till his mommy told him it was ok after he finished breastfeeding in his mid twenties.  Asshole. 

Grimskunk kicked ass, although it was probably the shortest set I’ve seen them play.  They were solid and tight like a well oiled machine.  Quite a few ex-pats in the crowd  – I assumed everyone with nasty dreadlocks was probably from St Foy.   The way the stage was placed and hearing Vincent speak to the sound guy in Franglais made me feel like I was at the Terminal (there’s an old school reference for ya old farts at home!).  My lady, who is very selective in her punk and metal, was extremely happy with them and still won’t stop telling her friends how “eclectic” they were.

After their set I was saying hi to the band when I got a text about the other gigs in the city… SNFU had packed their club, and Agnostic Front were about to hit the stage at the Rickshaw.

Live at CBGB is possibly the greatest live hardcore recording ever.  I first saw Agnostic Front at La Brique in 1992 (there’s another one for the old farts) and have never missed the chance to see them ever since.   The lady came out of the washroom ready to sip her Pilsner and get ready for the next band when my buddy and I informed her of the change of plans… she chugged her beer and we hopped in a  cab only to realise that we didn’t know the address or directions of where we were going.  Luckily we were able to use technology to find our way.  I remembered the show being announced a few months before, and I remembered asking to be put on the guest list so i figured I could get us in.   Even if not, I was so excited that i would be willing to pay for all three of us if need be.  Besides, there were two more punk shows going on at the same time… the place would probably be empty. 

We go there and the place was packed to the tits – it was Agnostic’s first show in Vancouver in ten years and I wasn’t the only one who needed to be there.  My name wasn’t on the list but I pulled some Mike Metal skills, and bassist Mike Gallo made sure we all got in.  I think my lady may have been the only female there, and our gang may have been the only people past the age of thirty but they killed it.   The crowd was old-school hardcore insane.  At one point the show had to stop because some poor dude got hurt really bad… when security carried him out it looked like they were holding the Gollum.  You can tell when a band are road-veterans because they know what to do in these situations:  put the show on hold, get the kid to an emergency room, then play a set of non-stop greatest hits to get the vibe back.  It worked, and worked out great for me as well because the aforementioned lady was apparently not enjoying the adrenaline of nyc hardcore as much as I drunkenly assumed she would.  We got to hear my favorites, have one last frothy amber beverage and enjoy a lovely walk home.

My question is this:  If there is no punk and metal support in Vancouver, how are three separate shows sold out in one night?  I remember a few months ago in Montreal when Dragonforce played the same night as Sepultura.  Dragonforce attracted about seventeen people and Sepultura couldn’t hit the stage until midnight when everyone finally showed up.  Vancouverites, you should be proud of what you’ve built here … except for the jerks who run coatcheck