Growing up in Calgary in the pre-Noctis Valkyries days, I was deprived of live music in my formative years. Though the burgeoning oil metropolis was ever-expanding, it was not a regular tour stop for bands, especially from outside of Canada, as it was at least four hours to the nearest sizable city. Traversing the country on the Trans-Canada meant nothing but open prairie road till you hit Regina. *shudders* When the likes of KISS or AC/DC made the occasional appearance, the gig sold out in minutes, music-deprived Cowtowners jonesing for their fix like junkies just outta jail.
Let’s just say that in the five years I’ve lived out east, I’ve been making up for lost time. With a steady source of income at my disposal, I’ve put a lot of miles on the frequent flier card for gigs throughout the Northeast this year.
Well, not exactly. Most of the outta town gigs I attended, I traveled by bus. Greyhound: Where You May Be Headed, indeed… Anyways, here’s some of the bands I’ve seen this year, in chronological order:
- Pentagram (Cleveland, OH, January 28th)
- Black Pyramid (Buffalo, NY, May 12th)
- Eyehategod (Rochester, NY, June 16th)
- Melvins (Opera House, Toronto, September 1st)
- Sleep (Portland, OR, September 11th)
- Accept (Cleveland, OH, October 8th)
And I’ll be crossing one more name off the list in December, when Pagan Altar headlines the Montreal is Doomed fest in La Belle Province. That being said, there are plenty of names I still hafta cross off that list, and some that I probably never will. A brief cross-section, if you will:
Brujeria: I took Spanish class in high school in order to decipher the lyrics of La Raza Odida. One of my favourite death/grind bands, up until they revealed themselves to be a side project of the bass player from Faith No More and the two latinos from Fear Factory, then released the craptastic Brujerismo, which sounded like Fear Factory en espanol. Shane “Hongo” Embury (ex-Napalm Death) is the only musician still associated with the project from the Matando Güeros days, alongside frontman Juan Brujo and the likes of Jeff Walker from Carcass. They still do the occasional Mexican mini-tour, and play select U.S. cities with large hispanic populations. The closest one to here? Probably Chicago, though I’m not sure they’ve played there recently…
Body Count: Say what you want, but few albums get a rise outta me like Body Count’s s/t. I started buying CDs from the nearby HMV without my parents’ knowledge in junior high, and while I wasn’t really worried about them catching me listening to Cannibal Corpse–as long as they didn’t see the artwork–I always had to wear headphones while playing Body Count. Some of the most memorable, meaningful lyrics adorn the album, even to a whiteboy in Western Canada–I had to stop myself from singing them out loud in public places–and to this day, it’s the only “rap metal” album I’ll admit to liking. Unfortunately, three-fifths of the original lineup is now deceased. Oh, and Ice T’s got that TV cop thing going on. Still, I was a tad disappointed that they didn’t do any extensive touring for the lukewarm comeback album Murder 4 Hire a few years back, especially when they were rumoured to be a part of the second Gigantour…
Candlemass: The band that pretty much coined the term doom metal with their debut album, Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. They’re gonna be performing it in its entirety at Roadburn this year, with Johan Langquist at the helm. Time to start saving up for a trip to Holland…
Cathedral: Perhaps the biggest British doom band of the past 20 years. Ditto Electric Wizard, who won’t ever set foot on North American shores after their disastrous tour with Sons of OTIS in ’02. (I’ve heard a few stories about that one…) Speaking of first-album reunion gigs, tis a shame this one’s the day before the Montreal doomfest!
Kyuss: Though all parties involved remain musically active, I’m not getting my hopes up for a Kyuss reunion any time soon. Josh Homme and Brant Bjork would hafta bury the hatchet, while the former can make more money touring with QOTSA or his new project, Them Crooked Vultures. That being said, John Garcia recently toured Europe singing Kyuss tunes, so at least he still knows the words…
Saint Vitus: Having seen Trouble and Pentagram in concert these past couple years, and a whole buncha great bands at the Born Too Late II doomfest, Vitus is the last great American doom band to be crossed off my list. They’ve been on the road a handful of times in the recent past, but never toured the Northeast to the extent that they’d stop anywhere within a day’s bus ride from here. California’s not very kind to the car-less, but if they announced a “last-ever” tour, or anything with Scott Reagers (not likely), I’d hafta hop on a plane.
And last, but certainly not least…
Black Sabbath: I saw Heaven and Hell, aka Black Sabbath circa 1982, twice and they put on a great show each time. Still, I’d kill to see the band with its original lineup playing the classic tunes, even if Ozzy’s a complete trainwreck these days. Dio’s death, may he rest in peace, might have reopened that door a crack. We shall see…
As far as festivals are concerned, well, I’m not too big on the idea of camping outdoors with 80,000 people in the German countryside. If there’s one European festival that’s on my bucket list, it would be Roadburn fest in Tilburg, Holland. A rather exclusive event held indoors in a mid-sized city of 200,000, tickets are limited to 1,500 annually, and tend to sell out rather quickly–not to mention that the hotel in town (apparently there’s only one!?) books up well in advance. But when it comes to stoner/doom, Tilburg is Mecca, and with Pentagram, Candlemass, Count Raven, Place of Skulls, Swans and Sunn O))) already confirmed for next April’s shindig, I’d definitely be up for a pilgrimage, one of these days. Perhaps I could hitch a ride, erm, flight with Blood Ceremony?
P.S.: I’ll be playing lotsa southern sounds on Smokin’ Green tonite, including some EHG and Pentagram. Be sure to tune in from 1 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer!