Sunday, April 15, 2012

Grand Master CD release party, April 14, 2012 - The Park Theatre

Openers The Revival were a lot of fun, with many people dancing to their 70's and 80s pop-rock sounds. Their lead guitar player, Eric Clefstad, was very, very good, and in a different class than the rest of the band.

Grand Master played for almost two hours. The trio are skilled musicians who are influenced by the likes of Dream Theatre, Rush and other progressive and heavy groups.

At times, their music was epic in scope and presentation, other times, fast and thrashy. Their music can be unpredictable, almost jazz-like with unexpected twists and turns, and time changes. It's quite challenging and interesting, much more so than most heavy music. But it's also not for the masses. While many in the audience were dancing up a storm for the opening band, most were paying close attention to Grand Master and their intricate music. A few times, though, mosh pits formed on the floor. Fortunately, I was not caught in a mosh.

There are plenty of people out there who have not heard of Grand Master, who would probably enjoy them.

Grand Master covers Bleak by Opeth at their CD release April 14/2012 @ The Park Theatre in Winnipeg, MB.

Joining them onstage:
Ryan Suche of Hoarfrost on Vocals
Mike Menza of Endless Chaos on Guitar
Mike Lewis of Soul Killing Female on keyboards

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 13 April, 2012 - MTS Centre

They played for about 2 hours and 40 minutes, with no opening act. Depending on your perspective, the show is all about cheesy spectacle with Disney-like souless vocals and safe, risk-less musicianship, flashy and over the top...perfect for the ADD generation.

Or, you could say that the show was highly entertaining with strong singing, musicianship and was a brilliant visual spectacle with lights, lasers, gasoline bombs and plenty of dry ice.

One of the singers looked like Mylie Cyrus and sang beautifully. Towards the end of the show, another one of the singers sang what could have been TSO original songs or her own. She was more attractive than vocally strong, in my opinion, and the songs were generic and instantly forgettable.

TSO's take on Beethoven was either clever or just what you would expect from this prog-ish metal musical band.

The people around me seemed very pleased with the show. They actually included a minute or two of O Canada as an instrumental, which had everyone standing. Was that a shameless patronizing move or a genuine show of love for their Canadian fans?

Prior to the music starting, they presented one of those large cheques to Osborne House, the charity selected by host radio station 92 CITI FM. One dollar from every ticket went to the donation, which was just shy of 3000, although the Free Press reported that they had around 3500 in attendance.

There were a couple of women in the row behind me who were talking out loud, very likely under the influence, who should have either shut up when they were asked to by one of the audience members or they each should have received a boot to the head. They spoiled the potential of the show for several of us. During parts of the show, a narrator spoke to explain the storyline. Everyone was paying attention save for these two who were laughing at all their own stupid comments.

The 80s metal band Savatage gave birth to the concept of TSO and I dare say TSO are far more successful, with pretty much a guaranteed annual audience for their Christmas shows.

The first time I saw them, they performed a Christmas show, which was a lot of fun. I'm not sure I would see them again. I'm more into substance than style and prefer more challenging music, usually. Still, I had an all right time. 

Five Finger Death Punch w/ Persist, Windowpane and Soulfly - April 9, 2012 - Burton Cummings Theatre.

I was there to see Soulfly, who did not disappoint but only played for 35 mintues.

By the time I got through the line up, I missed most of Guelph, ON' Persist's brief set. They had some melody to go with their metal core sound (think Killswitch Engage.)

Seatle's Windowpane were next. They seemed to mine the same territory as other crossover metal bands that have burst of heavy with melodic songs. I wonder if they have heard of Nickelback.

Prior to Windowpane taking the stage, this bearded guy wearing a kilt started to chat loudly with an audience member, obviously for many others to hear. He said that this was there first time through Winnipeg and how would they remember it? It was a challenge for people to go nuts for a fairly unknown band. He didn't actually say what band he was with, by the way, and possibly had some people think it was the headliners, FFDP.

Windowpane were unexceptional, not bad but not notable, either. Still, one drunken fan made his way to the front of the stage to offer the lead singer a sip of his beer. The bearded dude seemingly appeared out of nowhere to pat this guy on the back and encourage others to stand in front of the stage to show the band support, etc. Other fans slowly joined in. It looked a bit funny, seeing so few people willing to rock out in front, but eventually, most of the space was occupied.

I kinda wonder if these were people enjoying the band or maybe just pre-positioning themselves to see the next band up close, Soulfly, whose main members are well known as the founders of the legendary Brazilian 80s thrash metal band, Sepultura. Soulfly have been around for 15 years now, and should easily be able to headline their own Canadian tour.

During the intermission, prior to Soulfly playing, that bearded/ kilted guy was back, this time hawking CDs for $10. Probably a smart thing to do as many people would be too lazy to buy a disc of a fairly unknown band, especially when they think they can get it for free through download. Kudos to this guy for going out of his way for his band.

Soulfly sounded pretty good from my seat on the side, on the floor. The lead singer was somewhat Cookie Monster growly with his vocals, but thankfully not quite. There were many moments of audience participation, a bit too much for my liking. If they're only playing a 35-minute set, they should cut back on trying to get the audience to sing-along, jump up and down, etc., and just play more music! Overall, I wished they had played longer and I would like to see them headline their own tour.

Five Finger Death Punch are probably just about near the end of their set as I write this. I'm not a huge fan and didn't feel like staying around for them.

Fans were snapping up these $50 t-shirts like crazy! $50! Yes, that was not a typo. They had several t-shirts for sale, most of them quite attractive. People may be downloading MP3s but the fans love to buy merch.

When I first entered the venue, I saw this couple in front of me at the Will-Call booth who were shocked to discover that the two "meet and greet" VIP tickets they purchased for $100 in total did not come with tickets to the actual event! While they contemplated shelling out another $90 for tickets, they stood aside to let others get their tickets. Can you imagine?!! Either they didn't read the fine print (there's always fine print, right?) or they were misled. I felt bad for them. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

air bag inflator

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Concert - Peggers Banquet, April 5, 2012 - WECC

Peggers Banquet are a Rolling Stones tribute group, put together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stones.

The show was sold out (around 400 people) and in the days leading up to it, people were frantically trying to score tickets through Facebook friends, etc.  Having a small but packed venue added to the excitement.  I suppose they could have moved the gig to someplace larger, like the Garrick Theatre, but I don't think they would have sold several hundred tickets, thus likely playing to a mostly empty room.  For this show, the West End Cultural Centre was ideal.

Before the band took to the stage, a large box with the words "Happy 50th" was placed in the center, in front of the drum kit.  The familiar meaty chords of Jumpin' Jack Flash rang about and the band members then strolled on stage, with most of the lead guitar playing being performed by Matt Thiessen (Ron Wood.)  Moments later, singer Corey Bellhouse burst out of the box,  which surprised the crowd.  He was clearly playing up his resemblance to Mick Jagger by strutting around, lips pouting, wearing the first of a few skin-tight outfits.

Some of the songs played included Gimme Shelter, Shattered, Beast of Burden, Honky Tonk Women, Let's Spend The Night Together, Emotional Rescue, as well as some newer ones like Undercover and Mixed Emotions.

Openers Sister Love, a trio who performed a Big Star tribute, played to a fairly small crowd. The lead singer played guitar quite well but wasn't quite as clear on vocals. The drummer was the best player in the group. I couldn't tell if the audience actually knew who were Big Star were. The best-known tune they played was the theme to That 70's Show, In The Street.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Canada's next fighter jet? How expensive??

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