INTERACTIVE VIDEO RELEASE PARTY
W/ BLIND RACE, LOST CAUSE
VISUAL FEATURE #2
All Photography By: Anna Sklavos
By: Fridae Mattas
Winter sucks, especially here in Ontario where you can get all types of precipitation in one day. The worst is when you get sick like I did. Caught this weird virus that I thought was just a regular cold until it warped into a crazy one. Never in my life have I experienced something like this, along with all the typical symptoms my skin hurt and my hands would go numb to the point where I couldn’t even press buttons on my android. After nearly two weeks I’m finally back at full health, the photos from the first show of the new year Thursday January 8th, turned out alright. I hoped for better but with the ghetto lighting for the first two bands I did okay. Strobes look cool but are not fun to shoot in, nor is red lighting. At least the headliners had wicked lighting, they were the best shots of the night hands down!
This show was a bittersweet experience for me personally, it was the first of 2015 but the last show I will ever cover and see at the Kool Haus. For over thirty years with a few incarnations The Guvernment Entertainment Complex has been a mecca for entertainment in Toronto. It is globally known as one of the largest and longest running clubs in Canada. The complex houses a number of venues like The Kool Haus, Skybar, Chroma (means colour in Greek) aka “The Orange Room” where Deadmaus and quite a few other DJ’s got their start. Many international artists have graced the stage at the well known live venue, The Kool Haus formerly “The Warehouse” and “RPM”. Sadly on the 31st of January after 18 years of music, dancing and mayhem, the massive complex will be closing its doors for good. The Guvernment was the first club I went to as an underage youth exploring the club scene, always had a fantastic time! I believe my father even bounced their doors at some point during the glory days in the nineties.
My siblings and I saw and met many artists like “Nsync”, “Pink”, “Evanescence” and so many more at the Kool Haus. As I got older before the journalist days, I did background work in many films shot at the venue, attended exclusive events, sales, parties, raves, had many backstage wanderings and got lost a few times in the maze of rooms, the Guv is always a fun place to explore. Once upon a time at the Kool Haus I left my backpack with “friends”, who didn’t want to leave the general admission line to actually meet the band. We skipped school to see the band, might as well make the best of it right? When I returned from hanging with the band to grab my backpack, I noticed that some teenie robbed the drawings from inside my bag! Days and nights, hours and hours of sketching and painting gone. Fuming, yet at the same time flattered that my artwork was awesome enough to swipe. To this day I still wonder, why on earth would anyone want to steal Sailor Moon and random school drawings in the first place? Good thing I wasn’t stupid enough to leave my purse because I never saw my artwork again! After all of that drama, at least I chilled with the band before and after the show.
The Guvernment has been for many Torontonians a crutch, it would always be there in our minds. But, as the unnecessary condo communities grow, our music culture in Toronto is being demolished, one venue at a time. Out of all of my adventure spots, I will definitely miss this place the most! Even more so than when the Big Bop complex closed it’s doors. Okay, enough depressing jibbers of what is eminent, let’s get to the music. First up on stage was “The Butcher Babies“, these gorgeous ladies and lads were the whole reason I chose this show as the first of 2015! Major thanks to their team for hooking a girl up! Having heard so many good things about The Butcher Babies, I had to see them live for myself. The minute I wandered into the pit the lights dimmed and the band hit the stage, I made it just in time! Tried as fast as I could to find the best non flash settings in my camera for the lighting, we only had three songs. Right out the gate they embraced the stage with vibrance and charisma, Heidi and Carla did an amazing job entertaining the crowd! The ladies went right up in there, singing from the barricades almost in the crowd. At times the crowd looked like they were going to swallow front woman Heidi Shepherd but security had her back. The mostly male audience was getting wild, I’m glad that I didn’t see any inappropriate groping of these fearless females…Then again, I wasn’t in the pit for the whole set.
During the last show of 2014, I felt like a fun-sized Fridae trying to film behind this WNBA sized femme who was in front of me for the entire set. This time, it was I who felt like Andre the Giant’s daughter when Vox – Carla Harvey ran past me to get back on the stage, she is so tiny! They kicked off their eight track set with intro “The George Takei song” followed by “I Smell A Massacre” and continued to rock out with their blend of New school metal. The sound was the best of the night and the crowd was having a fantastic time, especially when they rocked their big tunes “Mr. Slowdeath” and “Magnolia Blvd”. If you get the chance to see California’s Butcher Babies, go for it! I could actually understand what they we’re singing! Diction is the most common issue for metal bands live but these femmes had it on lock! Bassist Jason Klein and Guitarist Henry Flury used the stage and kept the music on point! The beats were always tight thanks to stick handler Chris Warner. Throughly impressed with The Butcher Babies, looking forward to covering them again in the future.
Hatebreed has always been one of those elusive bands I always missed at festivals and finally had the chance to shoot and absorb a set. Their lighting was the worst of the night and it shows in my shots, everyone was drowning in red lighting! At least the band sounded good, that was the last thing I needed, a shitty metal band in my ears for the next forty-five minutes or so! Thankfully that was not the problem with Hatebreed, surprisingly I enjoyed their fourteen track set very much. The crowd was singing along to the mix of old and new tracks played in the fourteen track set.
They rocked tunes like “This Is Now”, “Live For This”, “Doomsayer” and a few more of the classics…Not a big fan of the band, but am familiar with a few tunes thanks to an almost boyfriend. Hatebreed is one of those bands that has changed up members a few times. The current line up is: Jamey Jasta – Vox, Chris Beattie – Bass, Wayne Lozinak – Guitar, Matt Byrne – Drums and Frank Novinec – Guitar. The lighting was too boo and it was getting harder to shoot the band. The bodies were starting to fly more often and all the photographers who missed the Butcher Babies were trying to make up for it. Would I see Hatebreed again? Yes, would love to! They could use some more energy and crowd interaction but they held their own, that’s for sure!
The last band of the night was Black Label Society who I thought would never hit the stage. How long does it take to put up a curtain? Apparently, half an hour and six stage hands! Oh and let’s not forget they wouldn’t let us into the pit until after the curtain dropped and was put away…That took what felt like an hour and a half, we only had three songs. Due to the delay in rotation at this event, I could only reach one of the other two scheduled for that night. My phone was dying, so I plugged it into the smartest thing I bought this year thus far, a portable phone charger for $14.99 from The Source! Just as I pulled the battery from my phone, the band began to play and the curtain dropped, we finally were able to enter the media pit.
The set intro was “Whole Lotta Sabbath” followed by “The Beginning…At Last” which could not have been more ironic. As for vocals, the mic stand with a bunch of skulls was cool, but I couldn’t hear shit in the pit. I focused on the only instrument I could hear, the Lead Guitar. The sound of a seasoned guitarists fluid skills unfolding, is always a treat for my ears. Honestly, it did not matter that I couldn’t hear any vox at this point, my ears were too busy enjoying Zakk Wylde’s intoxicating electric axemastery. I’ve seen Black Label Society briefly once before, but only caught the last few songs of the set. The band has had a few member changes but two originals remain, founder Zakk Wylde – Piano/Vox/Lead Axe/Rhythm Guitar and Bassist/Backup Vox – John DeServio. The other members in the band are newbies Dario Lorina – Rhythm Guitar/Backup Vox and Jeff Fabb who was destroying that dragon skull drum kit.
It was awesome to see Wylde use different guitars for every song, especially the one that was stolen last year and found a few days after. The whole band was fun to watch because they were all feeling the music. My favorite of the night was, Bassist DeServio who was flying all over the stage, entertaining the crowd as some were flying into the pit. Security kept tapping us on our shoulder, which is the standard heads up for the incoming surfers. Didn’t have a chance to run away from the line of fire a few times and was smushed against the stage, as security pulled out crowd surfers. The lighting was perfect for this set, my camera loved shooting in these lights but as usual was being a diva with the reds. After the three media tunes I left the venue to hop in a cab and reach my next destination. Just as I wandered out the venue my friend called to tell me he was twenty minutes away. So I rewinded back inside to see a few tunes until my friend arrived.
Wandered back in the venue at the end of “Suicide Messiah” and new tune “My Dying Time” was played next. The crowd was even more into the show as it progressed, singing along to pretty much every tune played. A mix of hits with many from the latest record “Catacombs of the Black Vatican”. It was good to actually hear the vocals from the back of the venue, always the go to spot for the best sound.
In the end I actually got to watch and see most of the set but had to leave in the middle of “Angel Of Mercy” which sounded so good! Did not want to go just yet but I had other places to be, definitely need to watch a full set from Black Label Society in the near future. You should check them out, especially if you like hearing amazing guitar being played, Wylde’s guitar solo was epic. The newbs Lorina and Fabb killed it, they add more character and chemistry to the band. Thank you to everyone who helped make this first show of 2015 an unforgettable one! That includes the couple who were fighting before the BLS set and eventually escorted out of the Kool Haus by security. Adios Kool Haus, we had some amazing times! Will always be one of my favorite places to shoot incredible talent! Now this fabulously dangerous 18 year escapade is coming to an end. The memories will always be, but there will never be another venue like the Guvernment Entertainment Complex. You will be missed!
All Photography by: Joanna Glezakos
By: Fridae Mattas
Additional photography by: Dipan Cheema
Last Monday December 8th, America’s first reality show musical group O-Town hit Lee’s palace in Toronto. First time across the border in ten years for their only Canadian stop on the reunion tour. Before American Idol existed and Puff Daddy took over Making The Band, there was O-Town. The last “Boy band” created by convicted con-man and alleged pedophile “Lou Pearlman” who is currently serving a 25 year prison sentence. You could probably find episodes of Making The Band’s first three seasons on YouTube. Unlike “The Backstreet Boys” or “N’Sync“, O-Town’s formulation was amidst Pearlman’s extreme legal issues. They didn’t even get the chance to sustain their momentum and stray from the boy band definition. The group released two albums and disappeared, until now!
Late August of this year, O-Town released their third record “Lines & Circles”. The first single off of the new record is “Skydive”, a fantastic mid tempo ballad that you can watch here. The current group is Jacob Underwood – Vox/Guitar, Trevor Penick – Vox, Erik-Michael Estrada – Vox and Dan Miller – Vox. The group once had five members, Ashley Parker Angel the fifth member did not want to partake in the reunion. But hey, that’s okay because from what I saw and heard, the quartet will do just fine without him! Never have I seen them live before, I was expecting the worst. I’ve covered or seen pretty much every musical group except “The Beatles”, “The Jackson Five”, “New Edition” and a few more because I was not born yet or old enough to migrate! Bypassing the fans waiting in line at Lee’s, I ran straight into the venue thinking I was late! It was five-thirtyish, the bands publicist told me my interview time was at 5pm. Turns out the band wasn’t there yet, I breathed easier, so glad that I made it on time.
Another media outlet was setting up their lighting across the room as I began unloading my gear. In the venue maybe five minutes before a guy walked over and introduced himself, his face looked familiar and the name Jacob rang a bell. One-fourth of the quartet and the business man of the band, which I later learned in my five second interview. Soon after the other interview began a blogger arrived to interview the group, adding to the time crunch. That pushed my interview back until she finished hers because mine was to be filmed, I didn’t mind for the time being. My priority was finding a plug to charge dead camera battery that was fully charged but somehow now dying…It was more than obvious that the Universe was being moody, something else was going to fuck up for sure.
When it was finally my turn, we were getting acquainted as I set up my tripod. Was being rushed to the point where I almost didn’t get the mic into their hands, nevermind check the audio levels! The guys were friendly and helpful, making suggestions on where I’d like them to be placed for the interview. After introductions I opened with “You guys are back! Why now?” Underwood answered with “Well, it was the right time for us, it has been difficult to get together in the past, with me living in Nashville and Dan being a father and all of our other projects. Now is the right time.” I can recall telling them their 2014 debut single “Skydive” was a good tune and asked if they were more hands on with this record? After thanking me for the compliment, they answered back with “yes” and a more in depth perspective that was lost amongst the static in the recording because my lip reading skills are not the greatest.
When I asked if they would do a reality show again, Dan was the most responsive, rapidly shaking his head “No”! We chatted about the difference of their first tour and this tour, at some point they were jibbering about visiting Niagara Falls (The big one is called Horseshoe Falls) before migrating to Toronto. Assuming it was their first time, judging by their excitement it sure sounded like it was. Niagara Falls Canada is the honeymoon capital of the world for a reason! The best time to see the falls is at night when they have the lights on, it looks too cool. Plus its fun to hit up a haunted house attraction and party there sometimes, on the Canadian side that is! Buffalo is ass! No offense Buffalo, I’m sure everyone notices how much it sucks compared to Canada’s Niagara and Toronto but, we are nothing compared to Manhattan. Oh yeah before I forget, single ladies…You are in luck! Three of the four are ready to mingle, as Jacob stated while he did the “call me” gesture on camera. They also chatted about their status during the show, playing the dating game theme song for shits and giggles.
It’s good to see them being responsible for their own careers. Underwood is basically the manager, handling most of the business, booking the gigs and apparently this is only the beginning, in 2015 we will be seeing a lot of O-Town! There you have it Townies, they will be heading back on tour, hitting a city near you in the future! Literally in four minutes that is all I was able to get. Not the interview I had envisioned…But tour manager Chris (I think that was his name) looked like he was going to have a nervous breakdown when he told me to wrap it up… I blame my tech issues on that half hour interview because they fucked up the whole rotation! So annoyed, I went straight to my generic wrap, pretty sure the band read the annoyance of being cut-off on my face. Now multiply that by seven and add a livid LeTawniyah on level ten. That’s how pissed off I was when I played back the interview to no sound, just static…Couldn’t even finish eating my poutine. Clearly, the Universe was not happy with the brief little snippet. And, after spending the last week trying to resurrect the audio from Monday’s interview, I finally gave up.
The opening act was “Todd Carey” American singer whose single “Nintendo” hit number one on the Billboard twitter charts. During one of the cover tunes, O-Town’s Jacob Underwood joined the stage to jam with Todd Carey and you can see how it all went down here. My ears were done after that, I had to find my ear plugs now! The sold out mostly female crowd was competing for the loudest scream, like Animals with the loudest mating call in the wild. Thankfully I was finally armed with ear plugs, they were my saving grace because that was only the beginning…Carey was good, a little too broadway and disingenuous for me but has potential, the fans were enjoying themselves. When Todd played his number one billboard twitter tune, my ears did not like that “Nintendo” song. The fans were screaming stuff like “Oh My Gawd, he’s soo cute” but not “I love this song” or any vulgar obscenities, that I heard anyway!
About twenty or so minutes after doors opened we heard a commotion near the parking lot around the corner. Photographer “D” made a sarcastic comment about how the group probably popped up to check the fans. His words rang true, the quartet ran to the front entrance along the crowd causing “Bandimonium” because most of the fans were still waiting to be let into the venue. It was pretty amusing to those of us watching this madness unfold. Apparently an older woman looked absolutely disgusted as she passed by. I was laughing, this was hilarious and obvious they still have an effect on Canadian females.
The set up was pretty basic, a computer played the instrumentals as the group kicked off their sold out set with the song that started it all, “Liquid Dreams”. At first I could not hear them over the shrill screams of five hundred or so grown ass women with a few boyfriends in tow and a couple of gays sprinkled in the mix. To be exact, two Queen’s dancing the night away in the middle of the venue like nobody was watching. Both myself and photog D, refused to even attempt shooting anywhere near the front of the stage. D was stage left, closer to the pit area and I just chilled on the steps by the sound booth, stage right. Was hoping to get decent footage without too many heads and hands…But of course the struggle was real, Andre the Giant’s daughter decided to wear stilettos and a messy bun to this concert…You can see her head bobbing all over my footage and she was standing below me…My weakness is filming in crowds without media pits! Wish I wore heels to make my 5’8 stature at least 5’11 or 6 feet and if only I could find a good spot to set up my tripod! Nowhere in the chaos was that possible.
They sang a mix of their new and old track’s, sounding absolutely tight without needing any live auto-tune! The performance shocked me actually, because my ears were liking all of their voices and that is rare when it comes to vocal groups. The only ones able to accomplish that thus far were “Boyz II Men” who are impeccable live, watch them for yourself on FridaeTV Youtube. As for The Backstreet Boys; my ears don’t really like Howie D’s vocals, N’Sync; JC’s vocals were the strongest, did not like the rest especially Chris’s tone. Occasionally Justin’s vocals were tolerable, the nasal whine in his falsetto still bothers my ears to this day. New Kids weren’t really known as a vocal group and 98 Degrees doesn’t even make the list! My ears don’t like any of their voices and they are so boring on stage. Saw them live when I was a youngin, it was the first time I was attacked by fans, all because one of the Larries handed me a rose. Never went to another 98 Degrees show or saw the rose again because the teenies yanked it out of my hand.
Right out the gate, O-Town could have done anything and sounded like shit, yet the fans still would have eaten it up. A great example was when Jacob decided to try something new where he threw and caught his mic during the hit tune “All Or Nothing”. My reaction to the little trick was similar to Trevor and Dan’s but the fans loved every second! You can watch that big tune unfold here. At least he tried it and in the end it worked out for him.
Toronto embraced O-Town with open arms, except for this douche behind me who kept yelling “You suck, you fucking suck!” during an acoustic performance of a song they’ve never done live before. It was a little rough as expected for a first attempt, it was a lot better than many “Rock Bands” have done on the fly. That man was aggravating LeTawniyah, lucky for him he disappeared before she was unleashed. The crowd was entertained without the bells and whistles of a huge production. O-Town’s talent and personalities we’re more than enough for the fans in Toronto. Next time, hit up the Phoenix where there is ample room for more fans and stage tricks ha ha.
My ears did not mind a few of the newer tunes like “Lines & Circles” and “Rewind”. Those songs stood out after briefly listening to the latest record and hearing them live. O-Town has been trying to gain respect in the industry, working hard to find a place in the world of today’s music as legit musicians. Is it possible for them to gain momentum in an era where everything is over processed and manufactured? I believe these indie underdogs of pop could slowly climb to the top! Ashley who? Keep practicing, writing and always remember what Drake says; “Started from the bottom now the whole team fucking here!” O-Town is Fridae approved, if you get the chance, go see their brand of non-autotuned musical infusions. Muchas gracias to D for assisting me in shooting the set, publicist Matt for all his help. And of course thanks to O-Town for taking a few minutes to chat, it was great to meet you guys! Reach out and I’ll see ya’ll in 2015, we need a new interview! Enjoy the holidays everyone and don’t forget to grab your copy of O-Town’s newest album “Lines & Circles” here in the US and here in Canada.
All Photography by: Kenny Godinho
Edited By: Fridae Mattas
Written By: Fridae Mattas
Photography By: Fridae Mattas
Additional Photo Credits: Joanna Glezakos
Words are flowing with ease because now I can breathe and actually focus on writing this editorial. The photos I shot were lost and I was trying to recover them somehow, finally mission is accomplished and they’re all edited. I was very happy that long time FridaeTV photographer Joanna made it to shoot a bit of the last two sets. There was to be four bands on the bill but apparently “Devil You Know” had some car troubles and did not make it to Toronto for the set. Was looking forward to seeing them perform but shit happens! Before we get into the meaty part of the editorial I must say if you don’t know who Lacuna Coil is I suggest you listen to a few tunes and then come back to read the rest of this review.
The first band on stage at The Opera House was Incura originally from Alberta and now transplanted to Vancouver. The band was support for the Canadian leg of the tour and I was so glad I made it to catch their set! Last time I saw Incura rock out was at Canadian Music week…I think? Who knows I could be lying, it’s been a while! Regardless, I don’t get tired of watching them play their hearts out on stage. I wish the Opera House would add some front lighting and not just backlighting always drowning out the performers.
It’s always a challenge to shoot at that venue but at least there was a barricade and mini pit to shoot from, very rare for the Opera House. Kyle Gruninger is the epitome of what a lead vocalist is, he actually sings the bands original material without all the bells and whistles and performs each track like it’s the last song he will sing…One day, they will be rocking arenas! They had an extended set due to the transportation issues of “Devil You Know” leaving a gap in the line up. The crowd didn’t seem to mind at all, I recognized quite a few tunes “Get The Gun”, “Who You Are”, “Greatest Con” and a few more. The other members in the band are: Phil Gardner – Drums, Jim McLaren – Keys, Jono Olson – Bass and Gatlin Fitzgerald – Lead Guitar. The band was extremely entertaining, every set is better than the last but some improvements still need to be made. McLaren on the Keys needs to be a little more vibrant, he looked bored some of the time and not that into the tunes. I cannot wait to see the next phase of progress for Incura.
Up next was a fresh band for me, Starset from Columbus, Ohio. I was the only one shooting the first two bands and didn’t know what to think when the band emerged on stage with lit space helmets on their head and rocking in black tights. The only one not in costume was lead vox Dustin Bates, the rest of the band Ron DeChant, Adam Gilbert and Brock Richards were glowing.
Starset were very fun to shoot and easy on the ears, I was really liking their tunes especially the catchy single “My Demons” from their debut record “Transmissions”. I will definitely need to check out the full record. The only thing I can think of that this band needs to fix is visual, they had this giant screen with the bands logo on it beside the keyboard. It did look cool for a minute but then got in the way, you could barely see the drummer or the vocalist when he was standing behind it. The music was good, a little much on the electrification of the vocals but I thoroughly enjoyed this band and will hit up another set if they reach Toronto again.
Continuing the trend of not dragging this on let’s chat about the headliners, before there was Evanescence, Lacuna Coil brought the goth metal melodies and vocals back in the early nineties. The one and only Italian GodFathers of Goth Rock Lacuna Coil has had some mild success, I’ve heard the bands music for a long time and when I found out they were hitting Toronto, had to cover them! There are many bands out there that deserve much more success and exposure than the current crop of shitterific mainstream entertainment. All of the bands on this Broken Crown Halo tour are part of group “A” the fantastic bands that should be heard.
Over the years Lacuna Coil has gained quite a loyal fanbase and not just in Europe, these talented Italianos from Milano have made a name for themselves across the globe. The band is: Cristina Scabbia – Vocals, Andrea Ferro – Vocals, Marco Coti Zelati – Bass, Marco ‘Maus’ Biazzi – Guitars and Ryan Blake Folden on the Drums .
Lacuna Coil had a few cool looking crowns decorating the stage and once they migrated out they we’re greeted with cheers as they kicked off their well blended fifteen track set with big tune Trip The Darkness off of Dark Adrenaline. That tune was soon followed by Spellbound from Shallow Life. Vocals by Andrea Ferro were almost flawless, he gave the people what they wanted…A Performance! I noticed some technical issues with the microphones but Ferro embraced it like a champ. Cristina’s vocals were strong, she sang her heart out and the fans couldn’t get enough, especially when they played Depeche Mode cover “Enjoy The Silence” to end the set. I liked Lacuna Coil’s rendition of the song much better than the original. Maus Biazzi on the axe was beyond incredible those licks were spectacular to hear! The beat was tight thanks to stellar stick handler Ryan Blake Folden and Zelati’s Bass lines were on point.
After I shot some photos I was watching the set from behind the soundbooth, the best view in the house! They had some fabulous lighting, still backlit but you must always work with what you have. It was fun to see the bands lighting tech enjoying the show as much as the fans, never seen a crew member so into the music. Rhythmically, he was in sync with every beat the band played and it translated on stage, now that’s passion! I loved watching and hearing the songs I’ve heard on the albums come to life.
The encore’s were a mix of old and new, first was Nothing Stands In Our Way from the current release Broken Crown Halo and the last tune the band played before lights out was Our Truth off of their album Karmacode. Huge thank you to Jon who linked it up and Lacuna Coil for having me! I enjoyed myself and will be seeing all of these bands again at some point in the future. 5 music notes out of 5 ♪♪♪♪♪ for each band, Lacuna Coil, Starset and Incura are all worth your time and support!