Sitting here in my trailer all processed waiting to shoot my scenes and instead of rehearsing my lines a few more times with coworker, we have decided a break is most definitely needed. The choices are to either listen to some music or watch the 3rd episode of “Sons Of Anarchy”, we can’t leave the trailer processed unless we’re called on set. So, I chose to hear what Marianas Trench Lead Guitarist Matt Webb has to bring on his sophomore EP “Right Direction“, released February 4th 2014. Time these days is very limited, but I always listen to as much music as I can because music is my life and many of yours. Without music most of us would not be here, it has helped us through some serious shit in life.
For those who need a little more background info on Matt Webb you can check out his Facebook here. Matt has been with his band Marianas Trench since 2001 which is amazing, some bands don’t last together a year, never mind thirteen! Personally, not a fan of the bands music they are not my cup of tea. However, I do commend them on their accomplishments for a Canadian band.
Webb’s Right Direction EP has six tracks, the first being the title track “Right Direction”. It starts in with your basic acoustic guitar and some percussion prior to dropping the first verse. The vibe is mellowed out and his voice isn’t too bad, needs to strengthen those chords but his tone is not making my ears cry. This track is okay, not exactly award winning but it is a well done production as is the rest of the EP. A few things I’m not feeling about most of the tunes on the record are that the lyrics are a little too rhymey, redundant and adolescent sounding for Webb’s age group. From what I hear, the above mentioned seems to be the trend for the whole album. The two songs I could not fully listen to and had to skip were “Don’t Turn Your Back on Me” and “123”. Don’t shoot me Trenchers, it is just my opinion.
Very surprised though, I was expecting worse! It is always a good thing when an artist is better than expected! Prior to getting the press release for this record, I had no idea he even was a singer. And, in a few weeks we will find out if he can hold his own on stage when he hits Toronto’s Adelaide Hall March 7th 2014 to kick off his Right Direction tour across Canada, in support of the new EP.
A song worth a listen that I have to mention is “Hang Tight” which has more of a jazzy vibe and is different than the rest of the tracks on the record. As far as Webb launching a successful solo career with this EP…A lot more work is needed to refine him as a solo artist, but he is headed in the Right Direction… I give Matt Webb 2.5 music notes out of 5 ♪♪♪♪♪ Download your copy of “Right Direction” here!
Found out about this show when a few girls were talking about it as I waited for the same bus. Then a thought popped into my head maybe I should go on a mission, haven’t seen those Larries in forever and the fans searching MDD on FridaeTV everyday will be happy! At first I was going to force one of my photographers to mission with me to The Historic Red Dog in Peterborough on Friday, November 15th, for the first My Darkest Days performance in like a year. Then I remembered a pretty awesome photographer who lives there and would let me use some of her shots if I needed to. So I trekked it to the boons myself, I’m a big girl now and none of my friends were free that day except a stalker ex who does not belong on anymore adventures! “Laughs!” Almost did not make it out of the city because someone stole my wallet with all my money except forty five bucks that I had put in my pocket at some point for some reason and glad I did! Pissed off, frustrated, trying to cancel my cards, I was very close to cancelling my journey overall and just go back home. Then the little voice in my head kept saying, “You’re already halfway there, just do it bitch! Do it! Do it!” My spontaneous Aquarian nature carries me through life, as my curiosity and determination drives me, I’m always up for an adventure! Fuck staying at a hotel I rented a house down the street from the venue, I was not about to trek it back to the city that night.
The rest of the evening was fantastic, I was already tipsy from all the free beers when the band was about to hit the stage at the packed Peterboonz venue. Last time I saw My Darkest Days live was either at the Opera House or when they opened for Three Days Grace at The Direct Energy Centre in like 2010, really don’t remember. Now, frontman Matt Walst is Lead Vox for Three Days Grace and My Darkest Days is missing guitarist Sal Costa who left the band last year. My intuition kind of already knew Sal would leave the band the day I met him. Costa is always pleasant and polite when I run into him but have not heard boo from him in years, I’m sure he found others to hook him up with shows. Like many in this industry we all get busy and drift our separate ways the busier we become or sometimes the fame hungry egos take flight and feel they are too cool until their bubble has burst. A good example of losing touch is changing phones, not many of the same contacts are in my new phone from previous years because my old phone swiped everything but I still talk to my friends, real recognizes real and always finds each other. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Turned out my sense about Sal was as authentic as my “Chavril” duet prediction, but hey, I think My Darkest Days found a stellar replacement! An incredible guitarist whom I thought should have been in this band a while ago, hopefully they keep Trevor MacLeod and he keeps them.
People need to calm down and stop hating! Bands have new members all the time, so many rude comments in regards to Walst numero dos stepping in to save his other band of brothers so they can support their families and not disappoint the fans. I’m sure he probably doesn’t mind all the perks and groupies that come along with the touring life but it’s like people sometimes forget that touring is work. Being in a band and rocking out for the fans is their job, he has big shoes to fill but clearly was the obvious choice for anyone who is loyal to their family and friends. Yes, vocals are not the same because they are different people, with different types of voices. Not to mention, Adam has what, like ten years more professional experience on stage and people must be reminded Walst has contributed his talents on a few tunes for Three Days Grace records in the past. I love Adam’s voice he has grown into an incredible vocalist and will always be one of my favorites but he left his band and fans high and dry just before a huge tour and regardless of the reasoning behind it, that is not cool. As of yet I have not had the time to trek it to see Walst play with Three Days Grace, but hey, who knows? Maybe in the very near future you will get my full perspective on that set, if the label lets me…This was not the first time I’ve been to Peterborough or the Red Dog it was my like my fourth “laughs”. Previous expeditions were to check homies Art Of Dying and I was not alone for those journeys, good times! Amazingly, I actually knew more people this time, did not feel completely out of place in the small town, except for the usual randoms staring at me for long periods of time. It wasn’t just men who creeped me out this time some of the females were pretty special. My Darkest Days has always been a blonde Matt Walst – Vox/Guitar it was different seeing the darker doo, Doug Oliver – Drums and Brendan McMillan – Bass with Reid Henry on Keys and newly added Trevor MacLeod who is in “Cold Creek County” with Oliver and McMillan and was in a few other bands back in the day.Trevor is a true rock and roll guitarist in every aspect, he is not one to stand still on stage like a scared little goose and no more long hair, he finally chopped the bush! Didn’t even recognize him at first without the hair, we shall see how things go.
They opened with a cover of AC/DC’s TNT which Reid “Mean Jean” Henry was on lead vocals for and did a smashing job! I was surprised how well he actually did, little Smudgie the roadie stage tech has come a very long way! Reid is developing into quite a talent thanks to his older MDD brothers from different Mothers taking him under their wing. Once the song came on I was like wait I know this one so I started to record it but my mic battery died so you can’t hear shit. I had a spare battery in my wallet which was no longer with us so I just took my mic off for the rest of the tunes using the camera’s internal microphone.Listening to AC/DC always reminds me of when I ran into Vocalist Brian Johnson on my lunch break when the band hit Toronto for a show a few years ago. He was super nice, actually just randomly started jibbering away when I was walking past him. Couldn’t place his face, it was familiar to me but I sure as hell couldn’t remember his name. I made a comment about his hat and he introduced himself doing a little dance, that was funny coming from this little man, he was clearly a character. Once we finished chatting it finally came to me what band he was in. As I turned around to walk back over to work this older woman popped out of nowhere and started screaming in my face. She was asking me if I knew who I just talked to, before I could even answer she yelled “Brian fucking Johnson! Brian fucking Johnson! Oh my God I wish I was you! Do you know how lucky you are?” that was too funny, I was trying so hard not to laugh as she asked me what he smelled like, if I got his number and other stupid ass questions I didn’t answer.
Much props to you little Reid who looked like a member of the Beatles, he’s growing up and refining his talents, Henry is not the only one who has been growing into his talents. Brendan McMillan who can now have his mohawk back is much more relaxed and looked genuinely excited to be there. He totally killed it on Stutter and it was very natural when he was interacting with his band mates. After they rocked TNT it was time to move on to a blend of originals and covers like the formerly stated “Stutter“, “Move Your Body”, “Save Me”, “Come Undone”. They even covered the Grandkids’ “ClockTower” featuring a Larry named Chris Millar but that wasn’t the only feature of the night. Nervous Brandon Scott of Cold Creek County helped Walst with vocals on the ballad “Without You” which can be seen here. I am really digging their renditions of LMR and High Road a Medley containing a blend of R.E.M’s “Losing My Religion” with Nirvanaesque vocals, Three Days Grace’s “High Road” mellowed out to the same melody of their tune “Set It On Fire”. Walst’s vocals were almost pitch perfect and the rest of the band did a phenomenal job with backup, you can view said medley here.
Can smasher Doug Oliver joins in on the improvements but he’s always been a slick snare slayer. If anyone in this band has been beyond consistent with his skill level it would be Dougie, his tricks are smoother and he was looking happier than the last time I saw him play. There were a group of fans I heard about that drove in from the US, I believe the farthest trek was Nebraska and here I thought my little two hour journey was a trek!Speaking of fans, I suck at filming in crowds because I get scared of the crazies from past experiences, yet I still go in them…The media pit is my best friend but this time they didn’t have a pit so I hid in a corner stage left and took some photos while filming, not the best shots but good enough. Everyone was pretty chill except for this one sloppy fuglymess drunk chick behind me with drink in hand spilling everywhere! I was going to crack her jaw if she didn’t stop pushing me on purpose, her drink was getting a little too close to my camera and clothing also dripping all over this short girls head beside. My filming is ass thanks to her but low and behold a few tunes with her crazy drunk ass passed and she was booted from the bar, some people just can’t handle their liquor. After the drunkerella fiasco, it was winding down to the last tune of the night, the hit poppy rock tune “Porn Star Dancing“. Chizzy (Chad) honorary lifetime member of My Darkest Days filled in for Luda, spitting into the mic like he just came home. I could not see the rest of the band during that tune but everyone was a good sport with all those fans on stage! The performance was the best I have seen to date, the sound man was fantastic he did a superb job and the crowd was loving every second. I noticed all the touring has been good for building their skill sets and taking their talent to the next level. Even Matt has made huge progress with his vocals, he has more control, they are steadier and his range has grown. Not quite there yet with the growls but much improved and he did not seem as shy on stage but still has a lot of work to do. Forget the haters just be who you are, keep practicing and everyting will be as it should. Fronting both Three Days Grace and My Darkest Days is a challenge but, the talent is there just remember not to burn yourself out. The band had an autograph signing meet and greet after the set, talking and taking pictures with their fans. Initially I wanted to get a few shots of the signing but was preoccupied with my bleeding finger dripping too much blood, how it happened who knows? Obviously at some point during the set, possibly drunkerella’s fault…Only the future can tell what is in store for My Darkest Days, I will definitely try my best to be at the next show to support these underdogs and their catchy tunes, as should you! I give this performance 4 music notes ♪♪♪♪♪ out of 5.
Yes, it’s time to let the world read this editorial, that’s just me reassuring my O.C.D perfectionist self to let it go. Not the first time Collie Buddz brought the fiyah to Toronto and probably not the last! Good music and talented artists always get repeated coverage from me because it’s so rare to find these days. Collie Buddz (Colin Harper) new school Dancehall, Reggae, Soca artist hit Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall on his “Light It Up Tour” with support from Miami’s Cris Cab and Brooklyn’s New Kingston. Unlike many publications I don’t care about covering bands/artists that will give me a million new views and fans, I like introducing people to the good ones, new and old. Quality is very important because my ears don’t hear numbers but music is heard clearly. If I were to cover all of the mainstream crap everyone else does, I would be working at Much Music like everyone else instead of running my own budding media empire.
The Danforth Music Hall has been a part of East Toronto history since 1919 and was even shut down a few times since, most recently for a year and a half until it was resurrected in 2011. Come to think of it, this venue is where I saw my first ever live concert performance, a Greek Singer my Mom took me to see back in the late eighties. The Danforth is a neighbourhood in Toronto known as “Greek Town” by non Greeks and is always fun to wander, I partly grew up on that strip from Greenwood to Pape.
Back to present day, I was hoping to make it on time for the first band New Kingston and I did! Finally I saw their full set! Well, kind of…I missed one song but did get a few good shots from the pit, they actually had a pit! Very surprised and excited when I saw the pit because I was ready for a general admission, no pit shoot from the crowd event, so I came prepped with different lenses. No complaints here, this show ended up being my favorite of the year thus far! New Kingston is a band of brothers with a “Fathager” (Father & Manager) Courtney Panton Sr. who also plays the Bass in the band. Brooklyn, NY is where they: Tahir Panton – Vocals/Keys, Stephen Suckarie – Vocals/Guitar and Courtney Panton Jr. – Vocals/Drums) are from. They have two records available for you to hear “Kingston University” and “In The Streets“. You can usually find them on tour with Harper (they are also his backup band), it is pretty fantastic that they get to kick off the night with their own material. I remember last year, they had a set in the city without Buddz that I wanted to cover but I had another show and all my photographers were booked. It’s hard to be five places at once, unless you can freeze time or fly which unfortunately I have yet to learn how to do.
The band was vibing it out, still I felt like they were not fully comfortable on stage but did warm up and let loose by the end of the set. Drummer/Singer Courtney Panton Jr. migrated from behind his drum kit, took off his shirt and sang for the people of Toronto. The females were loving every minute of the shirt removal and I noticed every time I wandered to different areas of the venue the crowd was growing quickly. New Kingston has this one tune with a sick beat that I have heard before but never know the name of the tune because they don’t introduce all the songs. Advice for all newbies: introduce your songs to the crowd if you want people to actually remember them and check out your music. Tahir was a lot more enthusiastic, he even smiled a few times as he was rocking a portable keyboard instead of being so serious all the time. Steve did a commendable job entertaining the crowd but he could talk to them a bit more. They need to separate themselves from being the backup band and embody more of a headlining act attitude with every performance. They also need to work on tightening up those harmonies, they were pitchy in a few songs but overall well done, I would see them again for sure.
The next artist to heat the stage was Cris Cab, he is new to my ears, I have never heard of him or his music but quite a few people in the crowd seemed to be familiar with him. There were plenty of different age groups, couples and of course the hard core Collie Buddz fans keeping their space hostage at the front of the barricade. Cris Cab is from Miami, Florida and like many people from Miami he has Cuban roots. Cuba is such a beautiful country and my heart aches for the people who live there, prisoners of paradise.
The crowd cheered Cab on as he was jamming out with his band, strumming a few tunes on the acoustic himself. Not bad for a young Larry, a little work is still needed here and there but he already has swagger and a presence about him. Cris was working the stage and a crowd like a seasoned veteran and looks absolutely natural! Truly coming from his heart you could see how much he loves being on the stage, I could tell he was nervous but had it under control almost immediately. He just released the Red Road Mixtape which you can grab here. Cris was discovered by Pharrell Williams and was signed to Mercury/Island Def Jam in 2011, one thing I know is Pharrell is right, this kid is the future.
The headliner for the evening Collie (Colin Harper) Buddz was up next! The crowd was more than ready chanting his stage name “Collie Buddz!”, “Collie Buddz!”. Once the house music stopped and the band started to jam the packed venue erupted into cheers of excitement for their favorite Reggae artist. The girls were going nuts, I avoided the area he was performing right in front of because the fans were getting grabby and “Too Watchy” (laughs). I really didn’t feel like having a chunk of my hair pulled out or my head whacked by hands.
Better lighting this time around and the setlist had old tunes and new, he even played a few super fresh tunes like “Light It Up” and “Payback’s A Bitch”. I was shocked when he threw down “Come Around” so early in the set, I think it was the last pit tune before I migrated back into the crowd. Usually when I’m shooting in the media pit and I have a three song limit I can barely remember the songs, its all a blur! This was true for the first two but the last one I photographed I remembered. “Come Around” is one of his big tunes and I’m used to it being played in the middle or near the end of the set, this time he mixed it up. Looking forward to hearing what Collie drops next his tunes are always original big tunes.
Once I stood still long enough to observe the set for a minute, my attention was drawn to the security guards who came out of the pit to converse with an older Jamaican man. He clearly had a problem with a female who was smoking weed and apparently was blowing the smoke in his face on purpose when he told her to put it out. She should not have aggravated him by showing some common courtesy and he should have known by going to a Collie “Buddz” show on the “Light It Up Tour” people would be blazing herbs. Both could have moved somewhere else in the crowd to avoid the whole problem from the start but that didn’t happen. Don’t know the outcome because I wandered off to another corner too much drama for me, that was the first and probably the last time I will ever see a Jamaican man so mad about ganja.
Unlike many musicians and people, I noticed that Collie is loyal to his crew, New Kingston always is his back up band and the fantastical Lady Alexis is always backup vocals. Lady Alexis (Alexis Layne) did a fabulous job although she didn’t get a solo this time around. I loved the shirt she was wearing, all the haters really should.
Buddz not only played fan favorites like “Mamacita”, “Sensimilla” and “Tomorrow’s Another Day” he also threw down some old school Reggae, DanceHall, Soca tunes like “Murder She Wrote”, “Who Am I (Sim Sima)” and one of my all time old school Reggae favorites “Everyone Falls In Love” by Tanto Metro and Devonte, I believe Beenie Man did a remix of the tune or was featured. I wish my siblings were with me they would have loved this show as would have many of you.
Buddz was relaxed yet extremely enthused when engaging the fans, throwing smiles at them, jumping around. He was bringing his music to life for his fans wholeheartedly with sweat cloth and mic in hand. I have not heard anyone like Collie Buddz, he is still the only one who can throw it down the way he does. With other artists you can tell many are putting on a front but with Buddz he’s as real and natural as they get. The one song the crowd loved the most and I’m basing it purely on the decibel level was “Blind To You”. As Harper came back on stage for the encores, he popped out wearing a custom Toronto Blue Jay jersey with Buddz on the back of it, the crowd exploded! Everyone loves it when people represent their city and Collie does have some history with T.O.. The largest crowd I have seen for Collie Buddz, he also noticed stating that it was his biggest Toronto show and he didn’t want to leave the stage. I will definitley be covering Collie again to see his progression, plus I still want to do an interview! You all should go check out his unique blend of island sounds live if you get the chance. I’m glad everyone was having fun and nobody ended up on a gurney this time.
This review was to be included with all of the other Canadian Music Week and Canadian Music Festival content but decided to split the editorials in half to give proper feature time to the artists that made the cut. After a few obstacles I am back to expressing my thoughts on these two bands.
Not too long ago I covered the headliners Hollywood Undead at a different venue but I have never seen Abandon All Ships live. They are one of those bands I always miss and the same thing almost happened again! Arrived at venue a few seconds to camera call, did not know if I missed it. Luckily for me the girl at the door was very helpful and the fabulous Live Nation escort came to get me, thank you for that! As we rushed into the pit I was scoping out the crowd, it was pretty packed already and Abandon All Ships was the second of three bands to grace the Phoenix stage that night. Abandon All Ships is a five piece Electronicore band from Toronto, they have been on the scene since 2006 and will be releasing a new record July 3rd. I’ve heard two of their tracks before “Take One Last Breath” and “Infamous” which I recognized as they played them in their set. Aita’s screaming was fantastic, I love hearing growls that you can mostly understand. When Angelo Aita is not screaming he could be a little more entertaining and personable with the crowd as could Bassist Martin Broda. His vocals were decent, he has a nice tone to his voice and there is potential but he needs to work on his breathing, enunciation. The one reason I don’t listen tot his band is I am not a fan of autotuned vocals. Guitarist Daniel Ciccotelli was the most entertaining of the band, they all could have used a little more energy but overall a respectable performance…I recommend checking them out if you want a pleasant fusion of music in your ears.
Hollywood Undead were the headliners, the house lights were dimming , the fog started to emerge and once the beat dropped the crowd was fired up and ready for the band to blow them away! HU started in with the intro “Dust In The Wind” morphing into their set with hit single “Undead”. I was expecting the crowd to be a lot crazier than they were, it was like they were fighting the urge to crowd surf and mosh. A few were brave enough to fly around but in my opinion not enough people were surfing considering how many bodies were in the venue, I was a little dissapointed in Toronto. It was good to see more females this time around, all were enjoying themselves and some were having a little too much fun! One girl in particular was escorted by security a few times because she was too intoxicated, some people just don’t know their limit or how to handle their liquor. As much as I dislike shooting in mosh pits or with crowd surfers, I love to photograph them and look forward to these shows just to get shots of the amazing crowd. Not this time…Although they were very energetic it did not compare to the crowd when I first covered Hollywood Undead at the Sound Academy. It could be because the band always comes to Toronto in the middle of cold ass Canadian winter, when most of us are hibernating in our igloos (ha ha). As I migrated out of the pit and back into the crowd area it was pretty packed for a Wednesday night where more than 300 other bands were playing across the city for the 2013 Canadian Music Week festival. Once the band began to play, the first few songs were strong but soon enough I could hear there was something off, it sounded like they were having some technical issues with the equipment. Messier and a little strained but then again it was not their fault, the sound system clearly needs an overhaul. If you have the option to migrate around and shoot from different angles, always take it! The more options the bettter but there were a few newer photographers camping out at the same place for all three tunes. I love shooting the masks especially the ones that light up, I have mentioned this before in prior reviews so I will skip the details. I do wonder if they can see in those things? I did see that they were sweating bullets under those masks, I tried my best to avoid sweat drops on me or my lens. last time there was no pit and this venue usually doesn’t have one, I came prepared ready to shoot from anywhere in the venue.On with the show! It was the same setlist as the last performance covered, the fans eagerly chanted and sang the words to each song before the beats dropped. Majority of them knew the track order off by heart. It’s always cool to watch all of this transpire after I am done photographing the band, you can feel the love the people have for their favorite musical act. The Larries of Hollywood Undead are stepping their game up every time I catch a set, Funny Man is not lurking in the shadows as much anymore however, I did see him standing in a corner taking it all in. His voice is full of bass when he flows, my ears like this sound! If keeps up the crowd visibility and confidence enhancement, he will actually embody his nickname on stage. “I didn’t expect him to sound like that, he doesn’t look like he can rap” said a girl to her friend in the crowd. How can you tell by looking at someone if they can rap or sing? Some people are seriously delayed.The whole band had much more energy at the January show, but they had the charisma necessary to deliver what the fans were expecting, a great fucking performance. They just released a new record titled “Notes From The Underground”, working on that review. I like their style of Rap Rock crossbreeding especially the beats, these Eminemabee’s are growing on me. J3T and Charlie had the tightest flow with the most conviction followed by Funny Man and J-Dog. Danny sang his heart out as the crowd was singing along with him. There were moments he sounded a little tired but kept his energy up throughout the show. The Drummers had a nice solo which is always fantastic to watch because there are two of them, Da Kurlzz who floated the stage even more occasionally shaking out his curly fro hair. And, there was D-Rock who kept the beats on lock the entire set! I always try my best to get shots of every person on stage but sometimes it’s hard getting a clear shot of the drummer. And with this band it was more challenging because there are nintey five band members on the stage ha ha.J-Dog was rocking the Axe and Keys throughout the set as was Charlie Scene and Danny. But, J-Dog took it to the next level and jammed out on the speaker with his guitar for a few minutes, the crowd loved that! J-Dog is the most improved this time, they need to do more stage antics and work on interacting with the audience. Bringing a few fans up on stage every show is a good start.During the set in January Charlie Scene’s twin Larry was chosen to come on stage. This time, they invited two little boys both of whom looked under eleven (all ages show). The little Larries were dancing around trying to rap with the big boys, that was too cute. I love it when bands acknowledge their fans even when they have mascara tears, make them feel special and they will always come back for more. Hollywood Undead closed the set with “We Are” the first single from the new album. On that note, I suggest checking both bands live if you get the chance.
It has been a few years since I first saw Hollywood Undead live at the Sound Academy, they have recently dropped a new record “Notes From The Underground” released January 8th 2013, a review for that album will be published in the near future. This was the first official show of 2013 for Fridae TV, I chose to cover this band once again last Wednesday January 23rd because the people love them! From the day I published the 2011 editorial HU has been searched every day and the review is still one of the top viewed on Fridae TV. What the people want, I try my best to give. It was a sold out show and the people were already hype and ready to see Hollywood Undead in action. Too funny it was, the scalpers were asking everyone if they had extra tickets for them to buy. One scalper was so mad that this woman wouldn’t give him her extra tickets, I was laughing as he bitched about it to some chick.Once they let me in I wandered the venue to find a spot to shoot from, no pit for this one. The venue was the Virgin Mobile Mod Club which usually never has a pit. I brought different size lenses for that reason, there was no way I was going to shoot from the front of the crowd. The HU set in 2011 was insane, bodies were flying before they even hit the stage! This show was a little calmer but that didn’t stop the crowd from moshing and surfing, sometimes even a few of the band Larries dove in. As the crowd waited for the band, I was trying to find the perfect camera settings but that didn’t matter because majority of the lighting was red, I hate red lighting. Anyway, the crowd started to chant and the band eventually hit the stage kicking off the set with their hit tune “Undead” after an instrumental intro.
They mixed the tunes well in their eighteen track set with a variety of new and older material. The crowd was mostly males but I did see quite a few females and people of all ages, at the last show it was a much younger crowd. I loved the boys who were near me, so polite and helpful. They also rocked out hard and knew every word to majority of the tunes. It’s always fun seeing the fans reactions as they watch their favorite band live in the flesh. There were moments when the whole crowd started chanting the song that they were to play before they even played it! Yes, the venue was smaller but the band and the fans tore it up like they were at the ACC. Vocals by the whole band were pretty good considering this was the last show of the tour. I heard a few pitchy notes and some cracklies from Danny but that is understandable. He did throw it down with plenty of energy, truly engaging the crowd as every frontman should. All of the MC’s were on point but I wish a few would have a little more conviction. However, I must say, they all have improved vastly and I noticed they are looking healthier and have more stamina. George Ragan “Johnny 3 Tears/J3T” who I thought is the most improved wasn’t so out of breath, his flow is getting pretty slick and he interacted with the crowd a lot more. Charlie Scene – Jordon Terrel held it together by rocking that axe and rhyming! He does need to be a little tighter and give a little more attention to the fans even with the axe in hand. They had two fantastic drummers Daren Pfeifer who is always behind the kit while Matthew St. Claire “Da Kurlzz” floated around and rapped when he wasn’t drumming. I wish there was more visibility from Funny Man he was lingering in the background while the others took command of the stage, I noticed the same thing last time. He needs to gain more confidence and come out of his shell. They all have some phenomenal masks, the coolest ones being those that light up like J-Dog’s mask “Jorel Decker”. My favorite part of the set was when Danny pointed out a fan in the front who was decked out from head to toe like Charlie Scene and brought him up on stage to rap with the band. I’m sure it was the highlight of his life so far and for a little white boy he wasn’t half bad. Like all of the fans, he knew every word to the track. I love it when bands randomly do things for their fans because they are the most important part of the show and so many artists and bands forget that.The newer tracks sound pretty solid but one track they played “Another Way Out” totally reminded me of a Backstreet Boys tune and I’m scratching my brain trying to figure out which one, my fourteen year old self would have known! The last track of the set before the encores was “Hear Me Now”, the crowd was so loud I wasn’t expecting those high decibels. I watched the set from every angle of the room and once I reached the back there was one man who stood out, he looked about fifty or so and was rocking out hardcore joining the teens and twenty somethings head banging to the beats! They closed the set with their first single off of their new album “We Are”, another crowd favorite. Hollywood Undead did it again, their fans love them and I’m sure people that went to the show not knowing who they were are now guaranteed fans. They finally stopped talking about their dicks every five minutes and now can be taken seriously as legit musical powerhouses in the making. Thanks to the fabulous folks at Live Nation for being so amazing! If you can and haven’t yet, I recommend you go see Hollywood Undead live and grab their latest record here.
When I found out Los Angeles band the Wallflowers were coming to Toronto, I had to check them out! Very young when they first emerged onto the music scene yet their music has always been familiar to my ears. They had success in the mid nineties with their sophomore album “Bringing Down The House”, it’s a record filled with hit songs. Those tunes that catapulted them into the spotlight from that record are “6th Avenue Heartache”, “The Difference”, “Three Marlenas” and probably the most popular song of their career “One Headlight”.
I was expecting a full house that was not the case, it was a nice sized crowd but not as envisioned. No pit equaled shooting from the audience, which is always a challenge because they are in the way just as I am in theirs. I couldn’t decide which lens to use so during the second tune I switched it to the 70-200 and before the third song I switched back to my regular 18-55. I was changing them up because I wanted a group shot which was so hard to capture from where I was in the crowd. At one point I thought of wandering out of the crowd but they already looked pissed off. Stayed where I was until after the three media tunes, the band finally hit the stage about twenty or so minutes late. The crowd was obviously tired of waiting and I really don’t blame them, the band prior was atrocious from what I could hear waiting for call time.
Once the Wallflowers hit the stage, the fans finally showed some enthusiasm for the band but it was still pretty dull. They played a few new songs off of their latest record “Glad All Over” the bands sixth studio album. They Jammed to tracks like “Reboot The Mission”, “Misfits And Lovers” plus the current single “Love Is A Country”. When they rocked those tunes they were fantastic to my ears but not mainstream enough to get them back to the level of success they were at in the 90’s. Most people only know frontman Jakob Dylan because of his legendary father Bob Dylan who is in Toronto very soon to play the Air Canada Centre. Most people use their famous parents to launch their careers but not Jakob, he wanted to make music on his own terms. The Wallflowers’ sound is much different than any of Bob Dylan’s music, he leans more on the classic rock side and The Wallflowers have this laid back bluesy rock vibe.
Of course they played the hit songs that the fans were waiting to hear but this rendition of “One Headlight” was clearly not their best. It’s obvious Dylan is sick of singing the song because he rushed through it pretty fast, meanwhile they played an almost ten minute version of “6th Avenue Heartache”. The audience was depressing, most performers feed off the crowds energy and all this crowd was doing was putting everyone to sleep. A few people were rocking out having a fantastic time and then there were the drones. Half of the audience was expressionless, even during “The Three Marlenas” which is one of their big hits.
The band is: Jakob Dylan – Vocals/Guitar, Rami Jaffee – Keys/Vocals, Greg Richling – Bass, Stuart Mathis – Guitar and Drummer Jack Irons. The band had good timing, Jaffee on the keys was the most energetic and hardest to shoot. He was rocking out to the fullest, undeniably loving the tunes he was playing. Dylan was chill, his vocals are unique and he has a rich tone in his voice and managed to stay pitch perfect for majority of the set. When he sang a few of the newer tracks I noticed that the vocals showcased more versatility and he seemed to enjoy singing them. You can find photos of the set in the gallery below and a few more here.
I do wish that Dylan, Richling and Mathis utilized all that extra space on the stage to entertain the audience, don’t be afraid to let go. One of my favorite parts was when they had a female violinist rocking out with them for a few tracks. If you like The Wallflowers go see them, I believe they are still on tour! And if you don’t know who they are, it’s time to discover a new old band. www.THEWALLFLOWERS.com
Toronto had it’s second ever Heavy T.O. festival August 11th and 12th at Downsview Park, there were other activities this year with Jagerworld and the new Heavyweight series along with the metal of course. Headlining this year was System Of a Down, Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch and Marilyn Manson, this year’s lineup was much more appropriate for the festival. Also on the bill were The Deftones who I thought were hitting the stage just before System Of a Down but Five Finger Death Punch were on the stage prior to S.O.A.D.
This two day heavy metal festival was dubbed ‘MudFest. T.O.‘ by the fans due to the heavy downpours and extremely muddy conditions. When I say mud, I mean lots of smelly mud! Worse than Edgefest 2008, at times it was flying mud thanks to crowd surfers and moshers. Never understood the fun in moshing, crowd surfing is fun that’s understandable but not body-checking yourself into other people! Then again, it is mostly guys who do the moshing in the mosh circles and bash into each other, explains it all.
I did not have my photographer with me and they did not give me a pit pass which kind of annoyed me, obtaining suitable coverage shots and clips was going to be an extreme challenge but I dealt with it. The attitude of the Live Nation girl in the tent I could have done without, I was being super nice just asked simply for her to repeat the media restrictions because I had just arrived when she finished telling the others.
So many bands I wanted to check out but I was very ill and not having a photographer with me cut the coverage in half. There were many moments of Day 1 I do not recall because I almost lost consciousness nearly being squished to death with my gear by the crowd during Slipknot’s set. I do remember how incredible Dillinger Escape Plan were to watch, I have to see them again for sure! In Flames made fun of Lamb of God’s ‘easy’ music which the crowd did not like by the eruption of “Boo’s” and “Ohh’s” which you can hear in the track “Trigger” I managed to film before a storm. Gojira and Trivium were fantastic, I have Trivium’s “In Waves” stuck in my head now blended with System’s “Needles”.
All I remember from Slipknot’s set was that they sounded great, the little roller coaster thingy and the pyro were cool. I could not focus on the show in front of my eyes because I was too busy trying to save my life. Slipknot’s footage was maybe forty-five seconds before I couldn’t move, I was trapped and the crowd of crazy moshers wouldn’t let me go. My camera was still recording as I started screaming and yelling for them to let me out. At this point I was struggling to stay conscious, holding my camera with one hand and pulling my 70 pound backpack with the other. When I was in that hazy state about to pass out flashbacks were coming to me from earlier in the day when a random Larry asked me who was going to protect me… I don’t know how I found the energy to survive that, I guess my will to live is pretty strong and I need to see Slipknot again. Marilyn Manson… I love a few of his older tunes but he can’t cut it live, vocals were atrocious but the band was amazing!
Day 2 had less rain thank the Lord but it was still hard to walk in the mud even in my sparkly boots which I wore because I almost lost one of my kicks in the mud the day before. I arrived later than expected, Killswitch Engage was on stage, so I left the media tent backstage and went to check them out. I was loving their energy, they sounded phenomenal it is a shame I didn’t get any feasible footage.
Deftones were hitting the stage next, they were on the East stage opposed to the West. Bands were having some technical issues with that stage earlier in the day so they switched it up. I have never seen The Deftones live before, they were fantastic! They played most of my favorite tracks like the newer Diamond Eyes and the older Change (In The House Of Flies). Moreno was throwing his mic around and wandered the stage but at times losing his breath and couldn’t finish the notes. The band was tight musically, however they could have been a little more lively, I need to see them again in the future.
Next band to keep the crazy metal fans hype was Five Finger Death Punch over at the west stage, vocals started off strong but like many heavier music singers he was flat during the ‘Ballads’ a lot. Singing softer music for many metal vocalists is very difficult but it is just as hard for contemporary vocalists to growl sing with precision and clarity. Five Finger Death Punch played for an hour or so, the crowd was getting antsy they wanted to see System of a Down.
I don’t know what I was thinking going into the mosh pit for System Of A Down, guess it was my faith in humanity which started to decline the minute the huge curtain fell. Stopped taking photos once my feet were off the ground and had to fight my way out again. Found a little area that looked safer or so I thought, wrong! Floating again, desperately trying to keep the camera steady and stubbornly determined to stick it out until the song was over.
After the three media tunes I was migrating back to the media tent when some dude grabbed me! Immediately I started swinging at him and tried to kick him and his friend with my muddy sparkle boots! He was yelling for me to stop (Haha mud on your face!), I stopped to see who it was and as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I saw a familiar face, my ex boyfriend (Laughs). I did not apologize for the mud kicks or punching of the moobs (I always called his pecks moobies, even though they’re like rocks.) Hello! You do not grab any female in the dark! My guard and defenses were up the whole night, the reception at Downsview Park is horrible so my reflexes were on high creeper alert. After calming down and discussing the randomness of his presence, his BFF put my gear in his car. That made my night because now I could actually watch the show from the audience with people, instead of backstage alone.
Thoroughly enjoyed System of A Down’s set from the back of the venue, where it was mostly mosher free. Of course now I had the protection of my ex who is a firefighter super tall for a white guy (6’5) and his friend. Where was Larry the day before when I really needed him? I’ve never been to a concert with this ex, he always refused to come to work functions with me when we were together, this to me was very strange, didn’t even know he liked metal music.
S.O.A.D played about twenty or so tracks including Psycho, Chop Suey, Toxicity, Bounce and pretty much every song you can think of, ending the set with Sugar. As everyone migrated out of the venue not a single person was clean and many disappointed that it was over. You can find more photos here and videos here. Thank you to Andrea at Live Nation and all of you amazing people who helped a girl out! Heavy T.O. 2012 was an experience, next year I don’t know how they’re going to top the 2012 lineup, good luck!
Saturday August 6th 2011 was the Day NKOTBSB took over Hamilton, with opening act Neverest. They also had Glee’s Mr. Shuester after Neverest (Laughs) okay okay, his name is Mathew Morrison and I did not cover him, I can’t stand his voice! The super group had their second last show of the tour at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum, the final show of the tour was in London, Ontario Sunday night. One of the fans I was talking to basically laid out their schedule for me and then proceeded to whimper at how upset she was that it was their second last show, wishing they would tour together again. I have a feeling there will be a European leg and another North American tour because clearly the fans can’t get enough and you must always give the people what they want. This Coliseum holds 19,000 people for concerts and it was almost overflowing at every level with only few spotted seats throughout the venue. They had some seriously loud screaming fans and “For such a small city, Hamilton is the loudest on the tour!” according to Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids On The Block, which I’m sure he said at every show on the tour but I wouldn’t know I haven’t been to any of the others.
It was bananas when I arrived at the venue, the tour buses were parked all around the venue with thousands of fans lined up to catch a glimpse of the Supergroup that is NKOTBSB. As I was trying to figure out where the media entrance was I heard acoustic guitars, singing and it didn’t make me cringe so I stopped to take a shot. It was the fifth season Canadian Idol winner Brian Melo performing outside the Coliseum before the show, at least it kept the fans entertained and maybe he gained a few of his own.
Some of you may not know what an NKOTBSB is, those are the initials of old school American Pop sensations The New Kids On The Block and new school old’s best selling Boyband of all time The Backstreet Boys and together they performed on one stage, serious blast from the past! According to Billboard this tour has generated over ten million dollars in revenue and is one of the top 50 tours of the year. Laugh all you like, these nine guys on a giant dick are laughing all the way to the bank and most of them could probably still steal your girlfriends. By giant dick I am talking about the stage, it looked like a massive penis with two balls (Winged Stage ramps) on both sides of a long shaft Runway and the head was a little off but close enough (Circular stage that erected at the tip of the shaft) it was absolutely hilarious but cools at the same time with all the colours in the background and the runway looked fun to play on, they all enjoyed it strutting around like modelabees.
The two Iconic pop groups decided to conjoin and create a co-tour and back in November 2010 they confirmed the tour explaining it all during the show. I find it amusing that basically everything I said in my Backstreet Boys review from their Toronto show last August was pretty much followed word for word, even Kevin made an appearance and performed with them during the LA stop of the tour. Either I’m absolutely psychic or people read my work, that’s the best free advice anyone could get! I hate tearing people apart, I am just honest about what work needs to be done to help talent grow into their full potential. If you want more background information on all the mentioned artists hit up their websites NKOTBSB, Backstreet Boys and NKTOB.
This was the first time I have ever seen Neverest live, I went to their video release party but haven’t been able to catch a show. Fans search for them every day on FridaeTV.ca and this time I caught the set. After some confusion I was able to gain pit access to shoot a few songs which turned out to be a challenge in itself. Huge Thank you goes out to everyone who helped Saturday evening, that includes many of the NKOTBSB fans, Live Nation, NKOTBSB Management, Strut and Neverest management! Neverest was introduced by one of their managers Howie Dorough who is a Backstreet Boy and was to perform an hour or so later. They didn’t play for long about fifteen minutes; it was a four track performance including the hit singles “Everything” and “About Us”. I was a little annoyed that I had the little corner of stage left (Audience right) to shoot from, couldn’t get many different angles because security wouldn’t let me. The main stage was so high up but I managed to shoot a few good ones regardless of the restrictions.
While shooting a band I like to wander around, feel it out and capture all of the band members in their essence. I hate when they trap me like a caged Tiger, “I’m a peacock dammit, you’ve got to let me fly!” Neverest’s performance was good, I was expecting worse but they did fabulously well exceeding my expectations. Musically everything was timed perfectly and on key. Vocally it was almost faultless, Spyros (Spee) just needs to strengthen vocals by using his diaphragm more than the throat and sometimes he was a little too nasally.
By using your diaphragm as you sing, it gives the vocals a more stable powerful sound because you are able to allow more air into your lungs and keep it solid for a longer period of time. All nine of the NKOTBSBers need to pay attention not just Spee, this is for all of you. I know this because first and foremost I am a singer, Soprano-Alto with a variety of range. My vocal teacher in high school told me how important it is to sing with your diaphragm and refrain from using your throat as much as possible. But, sometimes even I forget when nervous and have to sing. The nerves sometimes get the best of me, but even when the adrenaline is going and you have the shakes you must always try to keep control of your voice. Another bonus is, your chords won’t be strained with fewer sore throats. Neverest gave the crowd a fantastic warm up set, it came right from the heart. Absolutely evident they all were genuinely thrilled to be up on that stage entertaining their manager’s fans and their own. This Canadian Pop Rock band is growing as fast as their fan base, in ten years they could still be kicking if they continue to progress at this level and stay relevant. The only thing about their music I’m not feeling is the redundancy in the melodies, they are all sounding too similar, switch it up a bit. When making music always have an outside ear listen to the tracks and honestly advise you on what needs to be tweaked. Neverest is: Paul – Bass, Spee – Vox/Guitar, Brendan – Drums and Mike keeping it fresh on the Keys. Go see them live if you can, I know I definitely need to catch another show and do an interview with the band.
As predicted there were several generations; Grandmothers, Moms, Dads, Daughters, Teenies, Greenies and Beenies, it was 85% female 15% male. Girls flew in from all over the world not just Canada no lies! New York, Montreal, Detroit, Virginia, Boston, Seattle, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Germany and probably many more but those are the only ones I talked to at the venue. Those fans are obviously on a dedicated stalking tour of their own. When I was six or seven I was forced to pick a New Kid, my cousins were obsessed and wouldn’t let me play Barbie’s if I didn’t. I chose the one I thought had the best voice Jordan Knight, I did not find him attractive or any of them for that matter, still don’t. That is my NKOTB history, that is how I know the hit singles like Hanging Tough’, Step By Step, Right Stuff, Please Don’t Go Girl and Cover Girl which they sang at this show. To this day Jordan and Donnie have the best vocals out of their group. I was a fan of The Backstreet boys back when I was fourteen, fifteen but after Black and Blue the music got way too corny, I loathe Larger Than Life and Shape Of My Heart and a few more on that record, I can’t remember the names for a reason. To me, they are just another bunch of larries I’m reviewing and of course Backstreet Boy Nick Carter is still the hottest of the bunch, only because I have a thing for blondes. You can catch Nick today at HMV on Queen St. West 6pm downtown Toronto signing copies of his new record “I’m Taking Off”. You buy it, he signs it! So simple my friends!
Earlier I had a little issue with my ticket at the box office, the girl working obviously didn’t check the first time causing this whole delay and then acted like I was the dumb one. NKOTBSB press list with a ticket in a ticket holder that says my full name and publication right on the front, not hard to find but for her it was challenging. Then again I was in Hamilton! My friends think the girl was probably trying to teef the ticket and media pass for herself. Major thanks to the security guy downstairs, he was super patient while I waited for clearance. The NKOTBSB set had visuals on a giant screen introducing the supergroup with individual shots of each member and their names. That was followed by a medley of a New Kids tune ‘Single’ and a Backstreet track ‘The One’ performed together. They rose out of the stage on a platform similar to the end stage erection. The way they intertwined and arranged all their hit singles was interesting, it was clear there was a lot of thought and effort put into this production. They had a live backing band who were phenomenal, the crew that set this all up are amazing, lighting techs did an incredible job as did the stage hands! This show gives Rob Zombie’s recent set at HeavyT.O. a run for his money. There was fire during a few tracks, confetti floating and they all popped in and out of the crowd giving the concert goers their monies worth for sure.
In order for us to get our shots I had to reason with the fans because they told me our escort was rubbing them the wrong way when she talked to them before. The first two girls I spoke with in the front row paid $500 a pop for their seats at the second stage and they didn’t want any interruptions from their NKOTBSB experience. I felt sorry for them because scalpers will always rip the fans off and the artists never get a cut of that. I also felt super terrible for being in their way but that wasn’t our fault. I explained to them we didn’t pick the place to shoot, usually we are placed in the pit and would only be there for three songs, they agreed. As long as you rationalize with the fans treating them like people with respect, they will be chill about anything. After I spoke to all the other fans in the front row they were all on board; we had the whole tip of the weenie on our side!
It was smooth shooting until a venue security guard came up to me as I was snapping the second track while the New Kids were performing ‘Summertime’. He asked me my name as he told me to go back to my seat, I gave him the dirtiest look showed him the pass and he blushed with embarrassment apologizing as he walked away. I did not get as many shots of the New Kids because of the security guy and my camera did not like them. They were lucky they had the first track with the Backstreet Boys otherwise I’d probably only have two good shots.They were lacking some energy, I have to keep reminding myself it was the last leg of the fifty plus date tour and that definitely takes a major toll on you especially for these Ancients, I’m surprised nobody passed dust. Unlike their co-tour mates they do not have the natural skills. Jon looked as if he was floating on a cloud most of the time dazed and confused always looking at his brother for guidance. Danny, faded into the background once again, Donnie and Jordan were the more skilled of the bunch and Joey…Well I don’t see the big deal, never have, and I really don’t like his denture teeth, they looked mucho weird shining in the dark (I had a Doctor with similar teeth and he looked like the Poltergeist scary man, gave me nightmares when I was a kid so his extra bright pearly whites rehashed that memory).
They gave me the best seat to review from, I could have moved closer to a few free seats below me but I had the perfect view of the whole venue. I could see everything crystal clear, if I was allowed to take shots from my seat with my pro DLSR camera I would have had the sickest crowd shots! Fortunately for me and thanks to technology my cell phone was perfectly capable of taking alright shots as did my super ghetto point and shoot that I found in another pocket from beach day! You can see the difference in clarity from the pro shots to the ghetto snaps they are definitely not as crisp but good enough especially the one directly below. Obviously the one under the floating stage was taken with my pro cam during the three media tunes. I’m such a blonde people were probably looking at me weird because I kept looking in the viewing hole of the little point and shoot instead of the screen, I’m so used to the DSLR I forgot how to use a normal camera.
Danny Wood actually sang! It was mediocre, monotone and shy but not too bad, he could benefit from the above advice and use his diaphragm more often to give his vocals some push. I’ve seen mostly all the Toybands perform including ‘Nsync which was the most boring show ever, we didn’t even stay for the whole thing. I recently had the pleasure to cover and film R&B Icons Boyz II Men who have been an inspiration to pretty much everyone in this industry, myself included! Boyz II Men could never be replicated but most Boybands can be, except for these two trailblazers. NKTOBSB as separate groups or combined they are the drier poppier version of the irreplaceable Boyz II Men who made a guest appearance a few weeks ago at the Orlando stop of the NKOTBSB tour. The Backstreet Boys serenaded a few fans during I’ll never break your heart, Carter even wandered out into the audience behind the house cameras to pick that “special girl”. He did just that, a Ginger with a sign saying “Pick me Nick! Gingers have souls too.” I’m pretty sure it was something along those lines. I would have picked her too she was the most original of the teenies! During ‘Get Down’ the fifth track of the set, one of the Backstreet Boys cracked, it was horrendous to hear! I couldn’t figure out who, until Brian Littrell started to speak. His voice was hanging by a thread but I honestly don’t blame him or any of them for fucking up. I noticed he did not attempt the high notes for the rest of the night unless he was sure he could follow through. This supergroup just toured their balls off, vocals have lasted over fifty North American dates performing a thirty four track set almost every night live. All nine deserve a standing ovation for lasting this tour without anyone kicking the bucket or cracking out into rehab.
As I was observing I didn’t like Joey McIntyre’s overly arrogant self, he seemed a little too cocky for such a plain voice and awkward looking dance moves. Jordan was too pitchy while in falsetto during a song I don’t know, thank God my ear plugs tuned most of that irritation out. The fans heard nothing but perfection from them regardless of how they sounded to me. To the fans they were all God like, to me a lot of the performance was super cheesy but at least they have personalities and can throw it down. The two hour set was divided evenly, they sang their own hits and a few tracks together like the current NKOTBSB collaboration single “Don’t Turn Out The Lights”. The final Backstreet Boys track was “Everybody (Backstreets Back)” and to wrap the entire evening it was “Hanging Tough” which the New Kids sang minus Backstreet then molded together as a medley and goodnight!
If they happen to tour again go check them out, maybe I will too I loved the lights and the pyro! I think NKOTB Jordan, Donnie, Jon, Joey and Danny did a much better job this time around but the Backstreet Boys AJ, Nick, Howie and Brian were the show stoppers stealing the spotlight with undeniable enthusiasm and chemistry, my cameras loved them. Go catch these Candy Apples of Poppyness if you can, this is a show nobody will ever forget. You can find more photos of the show here, NKOTBSB are Fridae Approved!