THREE DAYS GRACE with Special Guests My Darkest Days
Rocking the 2010 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
By: Fridae Mattas
Every year since 1922 Toronto holds The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; it has since become the world’s largest indoor agricultural and international equestrian competition. This year they changed it up and threw in a concert series, the fair’s last day was today you can check out FridaeTV Facebook for some photos of the actual Fair in the next few days. Last Saturday November 6th 2010, the first ‘Royal Rock’ show raided the Direct Energy Centre, major thanks to the wonderful people of MCIPR and The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Headlining was the best band Canada has today, none other than ‘Three Days Grace’. Opening the show was Bleeker Ridge and of course they kept it in the family, just before Three Days Grace was My Darkest Days fresh from out west. What I mean by out west is they were on tour to the left, I haven’t seen these larries since before they went on tour at the beginning of summer. Before I continue with Norwood’s My Darkest Days, I will jibber briefly about Orillia’s Bleeker Ridge, I wanted to review the whole set but I was late and they only played four tunes. People think I’m late on purpose to be fashionable but that’s not the case, I’m an Aquarian it just happens!
We missed the first two tracks, reaching the media pit in the middle of the third tune. I didn’t even know if the media rules were in effect, restrictions were not specified. I was getting ready to film the next track and soon enough I had my answer. As I started filming security came over and told me to leave, my three songs were over. He was nice about it, so I migrated out of the pit without a battle empty handed. If you treat me with respect I will be just as courteous. Instilled in me are morals and ethics that I grew up with and will follow them for life. Drama needs to be avoided in all professional environments; I hate fighting and do my best to avoid everything that could manifest into some serious theatrics, there is a time and place for everything. Bleeker Ridge didn’t get any tracks filmed But! My Photographer for the evening Miss Melanie Schade did manage to shoot a few nice still shots during the third tune! Huge thank you to her, she took some amazing photographs and was great help to my injured self. From what I observed, Bleeker Ridge’s performance sounded better than the recent Tattoo set. I will have to do a full review at another show, until then you can watch previously filmed Bleeker Ridge videos on FridaeTV.
My Darkest Days dropped their self-titled Mountain View/604/Mercury/Island Def Jam debut September 21st 2010, it has since sold roughly over 30,000 units and can be purchased anywhere music is sold. Their hit single ‘Porn Star Dancing’ has been mounting a buzz Stateside, sitting at number one on a few rock charts. Could they really have everything they want? Only time will tell, because in reality you can’t always have it your way unless you frequent Burger King. Touring for half the year is not glamorous, particularly when you are just starting out. Just because you signed a recording contract does not mean management or the label will shack you up at ‘The Ritz’ or ‘Four Seasons’ and rent you this luxury tour bus to travel in.
My Darkest Days is probably having a great time on tour but also learning a lot about how much harder they have to work now that they are signed. Eventually they will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour but until then they have to continue busting they’re balls and make some extreme sacrifices if they want to stay on fire and not fizzle out. Staying ahead of the game is so important for longevity in this business, Bleeker Ridge is creeping up as their fiercest competition, vocals are stronger and the Front Larry owns the stage like he was born on it. The touring has done some good for them, they looked a lot more comfortable, there was more interacting with the audience and they are getting some much needed exposure, all of this a very good sign. The current band is; Matt Walst – Lead Vocals/Rhythm Guitar, Brendan McMillan – Bass, Doug Oliver – Drums, Sal Coz Costa – Lead Guitar and Reid Henry Keys/Guitar (Reid plays with them live).
Walst’s vocals have improved tenfold from the 2009 NXNE showcase I first saw and they continue to develop. It was good to see him coming out of his shell, I was a little surprised when he migrated down from the stage to greet the crowd at the barricades, it looked a little gauche but at least he’s trying. Be whoever you want to be on that stage, “Here they are now, entertain them”. Brendan was working his corner (Ha-ha) of the stage like a pro, with his Bass attached. There were moments where McMillan did seem too mechanical as if this is what he had to do and that he did. They all looked a little drained, the effects of the road written all over their faces, sick of playing ‘Porn Star Dancing’ yet? They closed the set with ‘PSD’ and opened with ‘Save Me’. Dougie always kills it on those drums, his heart is in it to win it, and I believed him! Sal Costa on Guitar is fitting in better with the band, his facial expressions are calming down but still a little too histrionically exaggerated. When you over exert it comes off as insincere but Costa gets a high five for vocals, blending better with Walst’s.
Overall, My Darkest Days put on a respectable performance, this was the finest set I have seen with the new line up. I was not going to address this because people should be allowed to have their own identity instead of always being compared to someone else. For the many messages and comments I receive regarding My Darkest Days’ getting a free ride because of the family connection to Three Days Grace. Honestly, if you don’t help your family, who will? Blood is thicker than water; I would do anything for my siblings, anything! It’s such a good thing that they help one another and not hate on each other, many families out there would rather see their siblings fall instead of helping them fly. My Darkest Days continue paying their dues just like everyone else trying to break through the window, if it was that easy for them don’t you think they would have been signed to Jive instead? In this business it’s all about who you know and if you plan to be in this soul sucking industry professionally, it is better to have family in your corner, well…Most of the time. If you haven’t heard of My Darkest Days, pay attention! This won’t be the last time; I believe they still have some dates in the States, you can watch videos of both 3DG and MDD at the end of the article. Buy Record!
On with the program…As we waited for the band they played music as all venues do during change over’s and breaks, this one was different because they played a BIG TUNE not many would recognize…Yet! But I did because it was up and coming Vancouver band Art Of Dying’s first single ‘Die Trying’ off their soon to be released record, the track is available to buy on iTunes!! Three Days Grace is from Norwood, Ontario, I first saw this band prior to the release of their debut record. They were just signed to Jive and opening for ‘Theory Of A Deadman’ at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. Those who follow my jibberings know this already, a year or so later they dropped their debut record and off they went. Three Days Grace is; Adam Gontier – Vocals/Guitar, Neil Sanderson – Drums, Barry Stock – Lead Guitar and Brad Walst on Bass. Three Days Grace formerly known as ‘Groundswell’ is a multi-platinum Canadian band. With their swift heavy double guitar riffs, slick relatable lyrics, infectious melodies and solid distinct vocals, it’s no wonder this band has made such an impact. When I first heard ‘I Hate Everything About You’ it was instantly my favorite track and they took over as my favorite band, Silver Linkin who? My ears love the bands sound and Like Chevelle, Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, Silverchair and Finger Eleven, Three Days Grace has a singer whose voice is truly one of a kind. Gontier’s vocals compared to the others…There is no comparison but I do have to say M. Shadows of A7X has been growing into a pretty fierce vocalist, the only thing I don’t like about Shadows vocals is the nasal. Adam has a full rich sturdy tone with grit and depth, first and last voice I ever heard that had the right combo. His vocals today sound completely different than those of the ‘Groundswell’ days, but even back then you could hear the potential.
This Royal Agricultural Winter Fair special event reached its 3000 person maximum capacity, Hall D was popping! Just ask the kid who left a comment on one of the 3DG tunes I filmed. They started in with a few tracks off the new record ‘Life Starts Now’ first tune played from the sixteen track set was ‘Bitter Taste’. The crowd had this remarkable energy, it was the perfect build up for an incredible set and every time Adam told the crowd to jump I thought the floor was going to collapse. As Sanderson counted down, on the third count fire exploded as the guitars came in and his sticks hit the skins, the crowd went wild! They soon calmed down enough to sing along with Gontier as the band tore into the opening track. The next song was the first single off the new record titled ‘Break’ the crowd went insane, I don’t know how they got louder and louder as the set progressed but they did. By the time they played the bands debut hit single “I Hate Everything About You’ five tracks in, this crowd was louder than at Rockstar Uproar fest when Disturbed hit the stage. I really wanted to film the song because it’s my favorite 3DG tune but too bad for me, my three tracks were over.
I just chilled and enjoyed the rest of the show watching the most incredible pyro I have ever seen in a live performance. I loved Avenged Sevenfold’s pyro but Three Days Grace took it to another level, they had different coloured flames as well as the usual reddish orange. I loved it, anyone who was near me could see the amazement in my eyes, I love fire. At the start of the set Vocals were a little rough but they smoothed out, unfortunately after Sanderson’s Drum solo Gontier seemed to be having issues singing the ballads. Once he began to sing the Apocalyptica cover ‘I Don’t Care’ Adam was struggling to get the words out with sound, his voice was gone. My ears could hear it immediately, as a singer vocals stand out the most. I could feel his pain as he tried to push out the sound, the same thing happened to me a few days earlier but there were only five or so people telling me I blew ass, he was live in front of 3000 people who really didn’t care how he sounded as long as he was there entertaining them. The show must go on and that it did, somehow Gontier unearthed the voice within and forced it to sound as proper as he could. It is a good thing he has control over his vocals the way he does, it could have been much worse. A suggestion to alleviate stress on the vocals would be to throw a few of the power ballads earlier in the set between the most strenuous tracks or don’t talk to anyone the day of show. If you can’t handle being mute for a full day (I know I can’t) try not talking for a few hours prior to warm ups , drink some warm tea with a little bit of honey and a shot of rum. For this band majority of their songs require physically powerful vocals that use both the diaphragm and throat, I don’t blame his chords for giving out.
Walst had his moments; he seemed a little timid at first but was soon genuinely feeling the music. I think there was something wrong with his Bass levels, I couldn’t hear the instrument for the first few tracks, the guitars and vocals drowned it out. The next few tunes the sound started to even out, I could hear Brad’s Bass again and he did a fantastic job with backup vocals as did Barry and Neil. Stock on Guitar killed it but he is no Rick Jackett, not even Slash can do Axe Ballet like Jackett! The best performance by a guitarist I have ever seen live was Rick Jackett of Finger Eleven, not one Axemaster since has been able to top Jackett’s Axemastery. What is missing is more vibrance by Walst and Stock in their performance, a little added showmanship and they will be golden. They can’t always leave it up to Gontier to entertain the crowd for the entire set; he was flying all over the stage with and without the Rhythm Axe in hand. The only one who has no choice but to sit there is Neil because he’s behind the drum kit, his effort is impeccable. You might not be able to see his face half of the time but you can hear his heart loud and clear in the way he brings the beat. The first encore Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” was the second and last cover of the set, this song will forever remind me of the worst wedding DJ video, I was laughing as he sang because that’s all I could think of. Gontier sung it well, he even had a little vocal gymnastics going on in there and it sounded wicked. They finished off the set with ‘Animal I have Become’ first single off their sophomore record ‘One X’ and went out with a bang, bringing back that wicked pyro popping off to the beat of the tune. Three Days Grace sets a high bar for all bands out there, you need to go see this band live and BUY all their records. Three Days Grace are Canada’s Heavy Hitters and will be dominating our airwaves for years to come.
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©2010 FRIDAE MATTAS. All Rights Reserved.
www.THREEDAYSGRACE.com, www.MYDARKESTDAYS.com, www.BLEEKERRIDGE.ca, www.ROYALFAIR.ORG
WATCH VIDEOS OF SET:
My Darkest Days:
3DG SET LIST NOV. 06TH 2010
- Bitter Taste
- The Good Life
- I Hate Everything About You
- World So Cold
- Drum Solo
- I Don’t Care (Apocalyptica cover)
- Last To Know
- Just Like You
- Goin’ Down
- Never Too Late
15. In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins cover)
16. Animal I Have Become