Wednesday, 19 June 2013

sean at bandstand

Adam Strangler + Belgrave + David Simard  |  Cabaret Lion d'Or

                                       PHOTOS  |  MIRA DAHN
                                            PHOTOS  |  VALERIA VEGA
I went to Le Lion D’Or to attend the Bandstand festivities, and on my first look at the place I was struck by how it was somewhat more upscale than most of the places I’ve covered for Hot Soupe. It had lots of chandeliers, a really big stage, and much better sound gear than average. For example this has to be one of the only times that I have encountered, within the venue, a second sound board that was dedicated entirely to stage monitors. I liked that the venue had a balcony, as I, for one, enjoy viewing a scene from higher ground. I should also mention that the changeover times for this show were refreshingly short; a welcome change from a large number of the shows I’ve attended where everyone seemed to take their sweet time getting on and off the stage. The show was opened by two hosts that engaged one another in some scripted banter and some nice words about this very website, and then David Simard took the stage.

David Simard’s band is a three-piece with Mr. Simard on vocals and guitar, someone playing an upright bass, and a drummer. I liked their set’s opening song, as it made me think of a rusty steam-punk robot made of wood and iron slowly gasping itself to life. A real churning kind of sound; it was a dark and interesting piece. The rest of his set was much faster-paced, with clanky drum and bass rhythms and strummed electric guitar. Vintage electric guitar tones were used, giving the impression of well-worn leather. Mr. Simard’s songs mostly concern topics of the familiar, and he and his band communicate much with sparse arrangements. His silken voice carried the band throughout the set. The Bandstand judges liked their set, and so did I. Belgrave came next. 

Belgrave are a sextet that play an airier pop rock; there are chiming guitars offset by a pianist and sometimes either a microKorg or a violin, depending on the song. I liked the powerful vocals in the songs as well as the guitar riffing. The effects on the guitars they used from song to song were well-chosen and tasteful. Stylistically, I would liken their music to cuts from Radiohead’s The Bends album or perhaps even the Beatles. I liked it. However, I felt like these guys could have done more with what tools they had at their disposal. For instance, the pianist uses his keyboard as a MIDI controller and so the sound actually comes out of his laptop, and I feel as though he could have spent more time whatever digital audio workstation he uses to come up with more different and unique sounds for the music. It also sounded like they were just using presets on the microKorg. Other than that, I thought that they were good. After their set The Hellbound Hepcats came on (not covering them, hah!), followed by Adam Strangler.

Adam Strangler are four bros that will ruin your life with punishing loud tones and do it with smiles on their dirty faces. They are a band with enough strummed guitars and “woah-ohs” sung in their songs to denote a pop-punk influence, but they are more rock than pop-punk. There are a great many powerful gallops to be heard in their music, but they also know how to bring it down a notch every now and then with some soulful jams. There were some buttery leads there that were oily as well as savoury, and they got a my attention with their almost lyrical qualities. They sang to me a song of all the things that you’re not supposed to do but do anyway. The rhythm guitars jangle the right way all the way through the set. These guys can either smash or caress chords with ease. The bass and drums keep time expertly. Great bass tone, and the drums were played the way they should be played in this setting: confidently and powerfully. The vocals vocaled with a superb range and a good amount of grit. They sounded carefree. It was a fine set, and a fine night. Bandstand as a whole was an event that felt good, as all events should. Yup.

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