Doesn’t feel like I did as much travelling last year as in years past. When our dollar was at par, a quick roadtrip to, say, Cleveland was pretty cost-effective. But when everything in the States costs 15% more loonies, well, that’s a bit of a bummer. Mind you, I still saw some solid outta-town shows in 2014…especially if you consider Hamilton outta town. (Hey, you can get there by GO Train.) But before I get into that, here’s a fistful of local shows that didn’t quite make the cut:
Kadavar @ Horseshoe Tavern, April 21: These Krauts were playing with Mothership and The Shrine in the States, but their chosen Canadian opener couldn’t cross the border. Nevertheless, they still unleashed their full arsenal for a 90-minute headlining set…in front of a sparsely-populated, Monday-night crowd. Kadavar left no doubt that they deserve top billing these days–but they might wanna book a smaller venue next time.
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats @ Lee’s Palace, September 28: Wasn’t sure what the turnout was gonna be like for this gig, but it turns out that when you tour with Sabbath in the UK and have two Rise Above recordings under your belt, you can certainly sell out Lee’s Palace on a Sunday. The first Canadian appearance by these semi-mysterious occult rockers was poorly lit by design (although half of their staticky TVs didn’t even turn on), but despite the creeping onset of fatigue, they still put in a solid set.
Satan @ The Garrison, October 17: Singularly speaking, Satan’s was one of the best sets I saw in 2014. Some 30 years after Court in the Act, they still sounded just like the record, and the cuts from comeback effort Life Sentence—which, as I recall, narrowly missed my top-10 list last year–certainly held their own. But there was nothing particularly memorable about the opening acts, and I must admit they were slightly overshadowed by the guy who played Toronto the following evening. (More on that later!)
Pallbearer @ Lee’s Palace, October 24: My only previous live exposure to Pallbearer was a 4pm set that was unmercifully cut short at 2013’s Housecore Horrorfest…so it was great to finally see ’em get their due. This was another gig where I was fighting off sleep; things ended pretty late and the mellow, sorrowful rhythms of the headliner probably didn’t help. That said, they’re definitely worth seeing in the live setting.
YON GRUESOME TENSOME
10. Anciients/Castle/Black Wizard/Pyres @ Hard Luck Bar, July 11:Black Cobra was actually supposed to be on this bill, but even with their border-crossing issues, it still turned out to be an excellent evening in which all artists complemented each other nicely without sounding too similar. I liked Black Wizard enough to buy one of the last copies of their record, but the headliners really took it to another level. I only thought Anciients were pretty good on record, but they were great live. And bonus points for bringing Sacrifice’s Rob Urbinati on stage to cover a Canadian thrash classic!
9. Crowbar/Revocation/Havok/Armed for Apocalypse @ The Phoenix, September 19: This bill, on the other hand, was mostly a mish-mash of bands you’ll often see as support acts on several major metal tours. Would’ve been nice to see some more sludge–although early-evening openers Armed for Apocalypse delivered in that regard. Of course, this show is on here because it was Crowbar’s first Toronto concert in eons–and the first time I’ve seen ’em headline. Suffice to say, twas worth the wait!
8. Eyehategod/Ringworm/Enabler @ The Bug Jar, Rochester, NY, June 9: Just as their latest releases each appeared on my top 10 albums of the year, both Crowbar and Eyehategod’s most recent tours cracked my top 10 concerts. I actually saw EHG at the exact same spot almost four years to the day beforehand, and as I recall, they were better in 2010. But I still left this gig almost completely deaf and not even remotely disappointed. Incidentally, I think this was the last show I ever attended without earplugs, so if I can’t hear ya, blame Mike IX, Jimmy Bower and company!
7. Eric Church/Dwight Yoakam @ FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, November 14: Y’see, on this list, we’ve got both kinds of music–metal and western! This was the first country-music concert I’d ever seen outside of the Calgary Stampede, but I’ve become a pretty big Eric Church fan over the past few months. What can I say, the guy’s got a lot of great drinkin’ tunes! He also brought out a 60-foot inflatable Satan for this show. Not even kidding–check out the picture at the bottom of this post.
666. King Diamond @ Sound Academy, October 18: Cuz if I stuck King in any other spot, Satan would smite me in my sleep. (No, not the NWOBHM band…) The guy’s pushing 60, but his falsetto hasn’t lost its ability to cut glass–and his stage show is such that no venue smaller than the Sound Academy would suffice. That’s not to say he didn’t get a decent turnout, although I’m not sure that place is usually open in October. Either way, twas an unforgettable experience for all in attendance!
5. Fu Manchu/Electric Citizen/Electric Magma @ Lee’s Palace, May 16: Because everyone’s summer should start off with Fu Manchu. A packed Friday-night gig at Lee’s Palace that was even filmed for posterity, I remember walking out thinking “Next to Black Sabbath, this is the best show I’ve seen all year!” And hey, it still ended up in my Top Five. Solid supporting sets from Cincy’s Electric Citizen and local stoner-rock mainstays Electric Magma, but really, it was all about the Fu. They even finally played “Weird Beard” for yours truly! 😀
4. Truckfighters @ BATL Toronto, June 12: This was far-and-away the weirdest gig I saw in 2014…but ultimately, it was also one of the best. I’m not even sure how the Truckfighters’ booking agent got a hold of a battle-axe-throwing arena out by Polson Pier, but with the help of Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum, they not only built a solid concert space, but managed to pack the place. And these Swedes really delivered on stage, bringing their high-octane stoner rock to the masses well into the wee hours of the morning. This gig ended so late, I actually missed the last southbound train at Bloor. On a Thursday. Good times!
3. Black Sabbath @ FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, April 11: Although they had played Toronto the previous summer, I was about a dozen rows closer to the stage this time (albeit still 20 rows back). And hey, if Black freakin’ Sabbath is playing anywhere within a couple hours’ drive, you bet yer ass I’ll be there! Not sure if they’ll be doing any more touring on this side of the pond, but if not, I’m glad I got to see ’em twice before they got too old to perform. (Well, four times if you count Heaven and Hell, but I digress.)
2. Days of the Doomed IV @ Metal Grill, Cudahy, WI, June 20-21: The fourth and final edition of Days of the Doomed went out on a high note with another 20+ hours of heavy riffage spread out across two days (although I was once again late for Day One due to an airline-ticket snafu). Too many great acts to mention, but my personal highlights included Apostle of Solitude, Orodruin, Las Cruces, Brimstone Coven, Egypt, Jex Thoth and some little band from Chicago called Trouble that brought the festivities to a close for the last time. Best wishes to Mercyful Mike and the Milwaukee Crew–if I ever have another reason to visit Wisconsin, I’ll know who to call. 🙂
1. RRRÖÖÖAAARRR 2014, @ multiple venues, Montreal, August 1-3: There were lotsa things that made my August long weekend awesome, and not all of them took place within Les Katacombes or La Sala Rossa. But the bands were great, with killer headliners like Noothgrush, Cro-Mags and Incantation and solid support acts such as Iron Lung, Power Trip and Haymaker. It even made dealing with the riff-raff from Osheaga worthwhile! (Lemme put it this way: if you wanted to get a smoked-meat sandwich Chez Schwartz, you had to get there really, really early.)
2014 in pictures:
While I won’t be back to blogging on a weekly basis, it’s safe to say you won’t hafta wait till next December to see more from me in this space. Better make that my New Year’s resolution, or something…