Tuesday, 3 September 2013

bad captain august 2013



This was destined to be a very special night. I showed up to La Salsa Rossa and found out within moments that the show was actually an event set up by Head & Hands, a wonderful organization based in Montreal that provides a wide number of services for underprivileged teens and young adults in the city. For instance, it provides legal aid as well as such health services as std testing and sex education in a non-judgemental environment. In fact, there was a young representative there handing out condoms to concertgoers. I was given a banana-flavoured one. Now, I know that there are those out there that balk at this sort of thing on the grounds that they believe that free condoms and non-abstinence sex education encourages more young people to become sexually active, but I believe it is best to take a more utilitarian approach to the matter. The youth are going to engage in sex anyway, so it is best for us to keep everyone informed and equipped for what’s out there rather than to sit and judge people negatively for expressing themselves in the way that they want while refusing to lift a finger to help them when things get dicey. For that, Head & Hands gets a gold star from me. Equinox opened.

Equinox are a local group, and there were already quite a few people in the audience when they started. Their sound is somewhat post-rockish as they employ atmospheric drumming as well as some heavy synth pads. They have an orchestrated sound, and they employ both a female and a male vocalist. They were a little bit loose and rough around the edges, but I believe that with some time they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Montreal scene. 

After Equinox, a band of dudes wearing leather jackets, denim and slicked-back hair took the stage. Their band’s name is Casino, and they employ feedback, noise, and some fuzzed-out bass. They have three guitarists, though one of the guitarists plays synthesizer as well on a number of songs. The guitarist/keyboardist also makes some liberal use of his delay pedal in a number of spots, using the delay feedback and the pedal itself as an instrument. I’m always down for that sort of thing. It wasn’t just a bunch of synthesizer noise and feedback, though; these guys can write some good songs and have a knack for coming up with good vocal melodies. Recommended.

A bunch of Vancouverites came next, and they are Cruel Young Heart. They are basically a garage band that by some miracle managed to trick enough promoters in Canada into letting them play that they wound up on this end of the country on some kind of tour. It was a loss for the good guys on this one, and the venue emptied as soon as they started playing. They play that brand of music that’s out on the scene these days that I like to call “indie cock-rock.” It vaguely sounds like U2 and Radiohead on The Bends but with much more synthesizers. It’s a fairly by-the-numbers approach to making indie rock, but there’s quite a few bands out there that do it quite well. These guys, however, play a particularly hacky and sloppy version of it. There were some sloppy drums, guitars, and wimpy vocals. As well as defecating in our ears with their nonexistent chops, they also managed to insult the audience’s intelligence with some incredibly dumb lyrics. Now normally I let terrible lyrics slide because I mostly listen to a style of music where guys think that it’s cool to growl lyrics about humping the bodies of the recently deceased (death metal, for those of you not in the know), but these guys have some lousy, bumper-sticker-esque, lines. “You gotta keep it real?” Didn’t Dave Chappelle create a televised sketch that disproved that notion a number of years ago? “My way or the highway, baby?” I remember that being stale when Limp Bizkit used it over a decade ago. Now, you might wonder why I have dedicated this much prose to dumping on a band, but I am writing in the hope that Cruel Young Heart sees this and realizes what they have done and that it’s not too late to change their ways. They can still disband, sell their instruments, start dressing in business attire, and go into a much more sensible field such as insurance sales. I think that is the only option that they have. Thankfully, Bad Captain came and saved us all. 

Bad Captain were as tight as they were loud. A crew of pop-punkin’ dudes there to hook the crowd up with a steady supply of catchy hooks and good times, they revived the good atmosphere La Salsa Rossa had for the first two bands of the evening. They entered the stage with a certain swagger and look that exuded confidence. They were dressed in the style of bands in the hardcore scene, and they stood tall on stage. I rather enjoyed watching their strongly-bearded drummer perform, as his deliberate, and yet free, movements behind the kit attracted my eyes to him. It was like watching a black belt practitioner of the martial arts take on a gang of goons on a rooftop or back alley during an air raid. 

Bad Captain's mastery of the stage entertained me and everyone else, as everyone who left the building during the last band came back for these guys and stayed. These guys supplied a very strong vocal performance as well as some choice riffs. Their amplifiers blasted our eardrums with an all-encompassing, sweeping wall of crushing guitar sound. If their sound was a paragraph of words, it would be bolded and in 48 point font. It was clear, crunchy, and in your face. They were, however, also able to turn it down a notch and have some softer numbers. They are skilled at bringing the epic loudness as well as the softness. During these softer parts, I was impressed by their use of the Ebow: a device that magnetically vibrates guitar strings so as to create a sound similar to that of a violin.  Good, tight musicianship all around: interweaving guitar playing, punchy bass playing, and powerful drumming. It was a fine end to the night and worth sticking around for. Check these guys out if you can. 

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