NXNE has seriously scaled down this year, to the point that it’s not taking over every venue in downtown Toronto anymore. And while I did attend one official festival event the other night–a Bionic throwback gig at The Garrison–there were/are a couple non-affiliated heavy-rock gigs in Toronto this weekend that beat the hell outta whatever’s going on down on the waterfront. (Y’all should check out that Moon Tooth/Rozamov show tomorrow–more details here.)
One such gig was last night at Cherry Cola’s, a venue I’ll forever remember for hosting Kyuss Lives on New Year’s Eve 2011. On this evening, they brought together two of the best stoner-rock bands from Ontario…and I even stuck around for the Ram Jam dress-up band that went on afterwards.
Sierra just got off the road with The Obsessed, after previously supporting the likes of Weedeater and Karma to Burn, so you know they’ve got their passports up-to-date. Their sound is more reminiscent of the desert-rock scene, despite the fact that cactus doesn’t grow in Kitchener. And there are maybe a few proggy elements as well, as this trio tells a story with its single-song concept album 72.
Now, I would normally get upset when an opening band plays an overly lengthy set, but when that local opener is Sons of OTIS, I really can’t complain. These guys jammed for over an hour, including a brand-new tune at the end. And I’d say Cherry Cola’s stage is the perfect size for a trio–though maybe less so when you’re a quintet.
OK, now let me get this outta the way: I’ve always thought that Black Pussy was a dumb band name. When I first heard of them opening for Vista Chino a couple years back, I thought “Why would you name your band that!?” (So now we know it was the working title of the Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” but that doesn’t really make it any better.) With that being said, I think it’s kinda lame that the band has been banned from certain venues–and even received death threats at one point–just because of their name. Most of us in the metal/hardcore scene can easily think of five band names that are 10 times worse…but I guess because they’re from Portland, hippie capital of the universe, they’re mostly known for triggering micro-aggressions or whatever.
In any case, there really isn’t anything offensive about their music. They’ve got some of that early Stones swagger, a bit of Hawkwind spaciness and a whole lotta desert-rock groove. I know that Brant Bjork produced their first album, and they’ve got a few riffs that really remind me of some of his solo stuff. Put it this way, I might go see them play again some time…but I probably wouldn’t buy a t-shirt.