Archive for July, 2010

July 8, 2010
The Venue
Vancouver, B.C

I was particularly anticipating the second of two ska / reggae styled shows this past week.  A colleague of mine recently told me that The Aggrolites was one of the greatest live bands he’d ever seen.  That alone was enough of a reason to check out Los Angeles’ five-piece; originally formed from two area ska and reggae groups, The Vessels and The Rhythm Doctors, respectively.  With them, they brought along a pair of Canadian groups: Montreal’s The Beatdown and Maple Ridge’s The Bone Daddies, as well as Australia’s The Resignators for a well-rounded rock-steady Thursday evening.

To my shock and dismay, the show’s projected timestamp of “Bands at 9pm” was bang-on, unlike the experience earlier this week and atypical to nearly every other gig I’ve seen.  But, good.  The bad, however, was missing The Bone Daddies who I anticipated just as much as the night’s headliner and who I later heard rocked the place even harder than I’d presumed that they would.

The Beatdown hit the stage next, opening with a tune bearing the same name of both the band and their self-titled debut on Stomp Records.  Specifically, I was intrigued by the irregular, dirty vocal talent of Alex Giguere.  But, vocals, periodic puffs of harmonica and the odd admirable “Texican” flavored lead aside—the same upstroke guitar riff stood out, repeatedly.  While I initially thought that the unique absence of both organ and horn section could give them an edge, overall they in turn didn’t seem to have a whole lot to offer musically, without.

A sweaty, suit wearing and strung-out looking frontman of The Resignators appeared with half a dozen bandmates.  Kicking their set off with a Futurama inspired title “Blackjack and Hookers” they quickly displayed their horn-heavy section thanks to two trombones and trumpet, alike.  Combining soothing blues leads, edgy rock rhythms—combined with the aforementioned brass section—they create a self-coined “psycho ska” sound.  Delivering older cuts such as “The Ultimatum” (about making love to a goat) along side newer material, such as a “Rage” from their How You Could Rage EP showcased a band fit for fans of both The Specials and Operation IV.

(c) www.skinandbones.ca

(c) www.skinandbones.ca

After a lengthy anticipation-brewing break before their set, The Aggrolites came out with all members donning a short sleeve denim shirt each.  Ensuring the crowd had some energy left (as it was already past midnight), they heated up The Venue with “Funky Fire.”  If I’ve out-used the term “soul” this week—I take it all back and save it for Jesse Wagner.  He’s clearly spun just as many Motown greats at home as he has the two-tone likes of Hepcat and The Upsetters.  Taking the task of both lead vocal as well as lead guitar, this man’s to thank for the group’s focal points, in my book.  Like The Beatdown they left any horn section at the door, yet retained the reggae staple of organ usage.

(c) www.skinandbones.ca

It seems that having at least one of the aforementioned rhythm instruments are key.  In fact, it’s the keys here, thanks to the bandana donned Roger Rivas which make for the dubby, danceable output.

Fan favorites “Free Time” and “Reggae Hit L.A” hit the walls of this otherwise trendy Granville club, amongst newer cuts like “Time to Go” from 2010’s IV.  With an overall inspirational feel, an ass-shaking sensation and a seven man, tighter than hell coherence— we were all glad theymade the four day drive from Toronto.  After all, it was high time they received some west coast love, away from their So-Cal home.

- Weasel Was Here

Visit these artists online:

The Aggrolites – aggroreggae.commyspace.com/theaggrolites
The Resignators – theresignators.com
The Beatdown – myspace.com/jointhebeatdown

“Free Time” (Acoustic on SPRadio1)

The Resignators “Offbeat Feeling” music video

The Beatdown “Justice” (live)

Category : Renegade Rock Review | | Date : July 13, 2010

July 5, 2010
The Cobalt
Vancouver, B.C

I hadn’t been to The Cobalt since the Subhumans (more/less) closed the joint on its last weekend. Now, in what seems like a posthumous breath, The Cobalt on Main is alive and…well? The entrance was altogether different, providing a bit of a hallway heading left towards the “door guy.” Once inside, I saw that on the flipside of the wall (creating said hallway) was a list of upcoming gigs for the month at hand. A wall sized menu of rock n’ roll heading our way, although a seemingly much trendier and mellow form of tunes than one may have come to expect from 917 Main St.

I guess that’s the point? Renovate the snot out of it (some for better and some for worse) and appeal to a cleaner cut crowd. The art displayed throughout was cool, interesting, and a complete mind-fuck, really. Mind you, it did compliment the purple crushed velvet backdrop behind the stage. Now, even though I probably hadn’t been to 2% of the gigs back in the day (as I didn’t grow up around here), the entire wall of historic gig posters was just that—historic. They purposely left little bits of graffiti from its past life for authenticity or moreover—street cred. But, I digress. This place always allowed music to come first and atmosphere to come second. So, now for tonight’s ska-dule.

I’d seen the first act The Valuables once, prior, and was left with the greatest first impression. Our second date was equally affable. The seven-piece greeted me with “Feel That Rhythm,” an “impossible not to dance to” cut, making for a perfect introduction. Heavy on the horns, organ, and traditional ska guitar stylings, they also provided an amicable contrast between vocalists. Once again, I found it a struggle determining which voice it is that I prefer—Michelle DeGuay’s sass or Corey’s Poluk’s soul. His was particularly treating as he sang the words “I don’t know about you, but I wish I could change” in “Back So Soon” later on. His telecaster driven leads helped in making the tune cry.

Beyond their overtly tight musical abilities, they’re also true showmen. Banter between both band and baron allowed for an intimate, yet exciting performance. They gab, they sing, they play, they dance. And they ensure you do the same. They were headed to Victoria’s SkaFest with 100 limited edition EP’s for the event itself, which includes a couple tunes that were played. Much respect to any band that puts effort into anything “special” or “limited” in their releases these days, more than ever. It’s smart moves like that—combined with the aforementioned qualities—that will attribute to their success. Keep your eyes on these guys.

Hailing from our eastern mecca of Montreal, Danny Rebel and the KGB brought with them a little bongo, a little scratching, and a lotta soul. Speaking of the latter, I hadn’t heard such an island-appropriate modern rock voice for some-time. A quarter glass Bedouin and a quarter glass Sublime, shaken with a half pint of traditional reggae. The turntablism, too, was a nice unique touch to their darker, almost broken feel than the happy-go-lucky opening act. While I enjoy a good horn section, having the guitars and organ do the bulk of the backbone worked exceedingly well in these boys’ favor.

Paying homage to their “514” area of Montreal as well as our old friend Joe Strummer in their set closer with “Police On My Back,” it’s endearing that their influences are a big part of their sound. These merits can be experienced on their newly released Soul Shaker EP. Pick it up (pick it up), if you can.

- Weasel Was Here

Visit these artists online:

Danny Rebel and The KGB – www.myspace.com/dannyrebel
The Valuables – www.thevaluables.com

Danny Rebel and The KGB – “Mary Ann” (live)

The Valuables – “Back So Soon” (live)

Category : Renegade Rock Review | | Date : July 12, 2010