by Jay H. Gorania
After our significant delay at the US/Canada border, during which time Len’s leg was chomped on by a Canadian border drug dog, we scrambled into Calgary’s downtown venue only a matter of minutes before doors. It could have been worse. The show could have been missed altogether.
Due to a variety of circumstances from their past, some members of several bands on the Summer Slaughter tour were unable to enter Canada at all. Carnifex didn’t make it to any of the Western Canadian dates.
Another band facing similar problems was Vital Remains. Despite their long history in death metal, the veteran band actually started off each show. Kick-starting the Calgary show, the five-piece was rendered a trio due to said border troubles. Main-man Tony Lazaro was even short a singer, but they apparently hold dear the credence “The show must go on.”
They didn’t pack the punch to the gonads that they do as a full ensemble; however they were surprisingly lethal and entertaining in their trimmed down form. And the simple fact that they played at all spoke volumes to the unyielding passion for death metal that Tony Lazaro has always had.
I enjoyed watching them from a desirable vantage point, but while slinging merch, my shorts were getting heavy in a matter of no time (and no, I’m not talking about the presumably heavenly act of making use of adult diapers).
I was born, bred and beaten Canadian, so I’m well aware of Loonies and Toonies (one and two dollar coins, respectively, that have replaced the paper format entirely), but this situation taught me how ridiculously heavy they are. I couldn’t help but empathize with the plight of Canadian strippers. Dollar tips would be the equivalent of an age-old stoning. But I digress…
The next show, a few hours north in Edmonton, proved to be one of the tour’s best in terms of crowd response. One attendee certainly wasn’t a Cephalic fanatic, however.
You see, Len can be (and always is) a smart ass, but his humor is extended in a playful manner that more often than not elicits laughter. But at evening’s end in Edmonton, someone didn’t want to let him get away with anything. I didn’t think that Len telling someone he looked like the guy in Nickelback (Chad Kroeger) would irk him enough to want to fight, but the guy was frontin’ all tough-guy like. Fortunately nothing happened, and in fairness to Len, that guy looked just like the stringy-haired Nickelback buffoon.
But enough about that. Next stop: Vancouver.
One of the world’s most recognized, major cosmopolitan centers, that hosted the world’s Expo in 1986 and the winter Olympics last year, Vancouver is a hub of both culture and commerce.
And on a more base level, apparently the downtown area is filled with hot, fit chics (this may seem chauvinistic, perhaps, to some; however logic underpins this point. Since extensive walking is a common mode of transportation, one can’t help but become fit. Right?).
At any rate, as we made our way around, we drove by impressive sights and features one would expect of a major city’s downtown. However, as it is common with metal shows, the venue wasn’t exactly in the best area of downtown.
It was nestled in a heavily Asian influenced area, which was charming, to be sure, but the venue was in immediate proximity to a location that legally distributes clean needles to drug users. None of this demographic was Asian. They were…they were their own breed of something.
Not long after we pulled up, in fact, we saw a guy shoot something into his arm about a foot from Cephalic’s van, and within 20 feet there were about a dozen people smoking crack in broad daylight, only making quick glances around to spot out Johnny Law.
One of the raggedy crackheads, a guy who looked like he was missing a full set of teeth and blessed with the crooked posture of a chicken, pissed on Cephalic’s van, sending guitarist Steve Goldberg out to ask, “What the hell are you doing?”
Surely there would be an apologetic reaction, right? Instead, chicken man’s beak opened wide to let out the most logical response: “Got any change?”
Of course that makes perfect sense.
Whether we’re talking about chicken man or the rest of his cohorts (we gave most of them nicknames), they had little shame. We witnessed all of this in 15 minutes. It was 10:30 a.m. (You can only imagine how colorful the neighborhood became when night fell).
The Rickshaw venue was an old theatre that offered a special kind of appeal. Entering and exiting the back of the venue was a bit of a chore since you had to skip over a stream of…piss, puke, and I don’t wanna know what else.
At one point near this load-in area and a cluster of dumpsters, I saw The Red Chord’s Guy Kozowyk scream, “Beer is for horses! Whiskey is for men!”
And crack is for chicken man.
At any rate, the Vancouver crowd, like the one in Edmonton, was vibrant and enthusiastic, but I could have done without the guy who repeatedly approached me with his “C’mon! Cephalic doesn’t wanna trade me a shirt for weed? It’s Cephalic!” routine.
No. No. And no. Cephalic didn’t think it would be a good idea to cross the border with weed (Again, Len’s leg was bitten when they didn’t even have weed, for Pete’s sake). None of the bands wanted to do something so ridiculously stupid. So, with the weed that bands either purchased or received from fans, it was time to smoke it all after the show!
By one of the buses, there were members of Cephalic, Veil of Maya and…some other bands (my recollection is a wee bit hazy) who indulged in a weed circle to end all weed circles. One after the other, joints were pulled out and lit up. Initially they were passed along in clock-wise fashion, but it wasn’t long before the little love sticks were moving in both directions faster than one could catch his breath and keep up with their movement.
Meanwhile, this was around the time that Decrepit Birth realized their bassist Joel Horner was missing. He had been having his own party when he found himself lost, wandering the crack-riddled streets. Fortunately he was found safe and sound, soon enough.
Part 4, the final installment of the Cephalic Carnage Summer Slaughter tour diary, will be published Wednesday.