While it obviously wasn’t some Spinal Tap tribute show, I was nonetheless intrigued by this poster for a gig called Four Corners II. At first, I wasn’t sure how you could have four bands all play at 11, unless it was one of those “every band is awesome, so we won’t tell you who’s on first” type of deals. As it turns out, this concert was the second installment of a series conceived last summer, in which four bands each set up in one corner of a room, and take turns playing tunes. Apparently, the first one was quite the party.
With Round 2 featuring local heavy psych stalwarts Quest For Fire and the always-awesome Lullabye Arkestra–along with two other bands I was completely unfamiliar with–I figured it was worth the short trek down Spadiner to a Steelworker’s Union Hall on Cecil St., where the four-dollar booze flowed freely in plastic cups, and tipping was completely optional.
Upon arrival, I inspected the backlines to see who was set up where. True to form, the bands each occupied one corner of the room, with coloured lights behind them to indicate whose turn it was to play. I was intrigued by the second drum kit set up aside what appeared to be QFF’s gear, so I gravitated towards that corner, fully realizing that Lullabye was on the complete opposite end of the room. The reason for this would soon become apparent. In the meantime, as I downed some suds from Great Lakes Brewery, I wished that I had brought earplugs–not for the oncoming aural assault, but for the wholly inappropriate music being played by the DJ, everything from rap to bhangra, but nothing suitable for a heavy rock show. My guess is that someone musta hired the guy, as I can’t imagine a union hall having an in-house DJ, in which case I seriously questioned this decision. As I cringed through another “club banga,” I wondered why the fuck you’d get a non-rock guy to DJ a rock concert.
As 11 o’clock drew near, the bands took their places for a quick sound check, but were more or less inaudible over the music pumping in from the PA. It was at this time that DJ Craptastic decided that instead of full songs, he’d just play a quick snippet before jumping to the next track. Believe it or not, he played the intro from “Raining Blood”–finally something decent!–then went straight from Slayer to Beyonce. I only wish I was making this up…
Alas, the concert didn’t start till 11:20 or so. Once underway, however, things went off without a hitch. The players, in order of appearance:
Rituals: The lightest, mellowest act of the evening, a pych pop/garage trio that had decent energy and some solid tunes, but were somewhat dwarfed by the other bands on the bill.
Sun RaRaRa: An old-school, ’77 punk band that sometimes slipped into lengthy psychedelic jams. Though I once fronted a self-proclaimed “stoner punk” outfit, I’d never seen a band combine the two genres before–and they did it real well!
Quest For Fire: QFF employed a modified lineup this evening, with singer Chad Ross switching to bass and Holy Mount’s Daniel Losic handling rhythm guitar duties. And yes, they did have two drummers. With the length of their material, they were only permitted one song per turn, while all the other bands played two. Still, they really let loose on “Bison Eyes” while slowing things down with “Greatest Hits By God” and “You Will Always Be Loved,” among others. With QFF set up beside Rituals, it became apparent that the room was divided into two halves. You had the more melodic bands on the one side, and the rougher, coarser acts on the other.
Lullabye Arkestra: Which brings me to Lullabye Arkestra. Though I could barely catch a glimpse of the two-person hardcore duo in this stage-less environment (they’ve got some tall fucking fans!), they really sounded great, their gritty, crusty sounds serving as a stark, albeit welcome contrast to the mellow music of Quest For Fire. Further proof that this concert was conceived with the psych-loving punk rocker/punk rawkin’ stoner such as yours truly in mind.
The grand finale had all four bands playing at once, which basically sounded like whichever band you were closest to (in my case, QFF) with a massive wall of sound behind them. Props to Sun RaRaRa for lasting the longest in their set-closing jam. From my vantage point, I didn’t even realize they had a second guitar player till the dude climbed up on top of his amp. A solid showing all around; I just hope they can find a better DJ for the pre-show mingling next time. (I might know somebody who’s available, hint hint…)
P.S.: Smokin’ Green starts an hour earlier this week! I’m on at midnite tonite, and I’ll be playing three straight hours of Canadian heavy rock! Be sure to tune in from 12 till 3 am at 88.1 fm on yer radio, channel 947 on yer TV or www.ckln.fm on yer computer! Playlist and podcast posted over here afterwards.