Throne of Vengeance at Lord Nelson’s – Show Review

Throne of Vengeance has a killer reputation for their live shows, and having been to my fair share of them I can say that their reputation is completely deserved. It is the winning trifecta of tunes, talk and tattoos that makes TOV a band to watch. Their sound is awesome (we’ll get to that later) but their presence on stage and explosive personalities are the real kicker. Lead vocalist Tommy “Shakes” Holt is simply nuts: he says things that make you question even your own sanity, a mix of randomness and hilarity that may make you piss yourself with laughter when you remember it later. And I mean that in the best way: Tommy is a stage man, and it is the live show that pushes TOV from a mere band to a FULL-OUT COMBO OF ROCK AWESOMENESS.

But don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a comedy show or the super fun happy hour. TOV is a metal band, and a super-talented metal band at that. Thursday’s show at Lord Nelson’s was the Calgary kick-off for Throne of Vengeance’s Flesh Injection Tour, and they definitely kicked it off in high gear. Opening for Throne were heavier bands BDFM and Stab.Twist.Pull, who set the tone for the night by pumping up the crowd and moving bodies around. Lord Nelson’s is a cool venue: with a stage that’s hidden around the corner from the main doors and a dropped-down floor that makes a perfect pit for moshing and dancing, it’s a great place to watch and listen to music, and we lucked out on Thursday night by having a sound tech who actually knew what he was doing. By the time TOV came on stage at 11:30, we were pumped and ready.

On stage, the boys show amazing chemistry. They are so in sync with each other that they seem to communicate without words, and every sound and movement seems completely effortless. This is something that has developed over time and has made them so cool to watch — even the hair puts on a show. Bassist Riley Cobb looks like he should be on the cover of a romance novel, and the screams of “Riley is sexy!” from the crowd (usually from the men, disturbingly) just add to the image. The other boys aren’t bad either: with Brad Weidlich on guitar, Trevor Cobb on drums, and Tommy singing and playing additional guitar, even the eyes get a treat when TOV is onstage.

But enough of my girlish fawning. Throne of Vengeance deserves to be recognized for their music and the sound that they’re known for. The classic and raw metal sound that comes from these guys is on a completely different level than most of the other bands out there, and each song is so flawless that their talent seems almost unnatural. Tommy’s voice is incredible: he has one of those gravelly, growly rock voices that you can feel right down in your gut, and the screams he occasionally throws in are like the mating call of a wolverine. Simply delicious (albeit a little scary). Guitars are smooth and crisp, and on explosive drums, Trevor shows why he’s nicknamed ‘Animal’. From start to finish, Throne’s performance is stellar and just gets better and better.

As a whole, Tommy summed it up best: “It’s fuckin’ rowdy for a Thursday!” Definitely true, and thank you, TOV, for making it so! They’re now off performing a solid series of shows from Winnipeg Beach to Montreal and back again. Check out their tour schedule here, get to a show, and then follow TOV around like a groupie, because, really, you need to.

Set list:
Undertow
Big D
White Widow
Flesh Engine
Devil’s Captain
Blunt Force Trauma (Damageplan cover)
Hooligan Hunter
Perfect Plan
World War Everything

Encore:
Outlaw

Kaptur – “Thousands”

There are few new artists who are capable of releasing a great first album. While many albums are good, they are usually missing the precision and smoothness that will typically come only after a few recording attempts and years of practice.

“Thousands”, the first studio release from new artist Kaptur, is an exception. The five-track EP is near perfection, an unexpected surprise that restores faith in new music and pure talent. Jumping onto the surprise ride is the additional fact that Kaptur is only one person: Riley Jensen shows incredible and enviable skill by singlehandedly performing each song, personally playing each instrument on the EP and showing off a phenomenal voice that is – somehow – both soothing and invigorating. Jensen’s talent defies all explanation, seeming incredibly sophisticated and flawless for a young man of only 22.

With the help of Toronto recording engineer Josh Korody, Kaptur has created a fantastic collection of songs that shows the influence of such acts as Radiohead, Matthew Good, and Death Cab for Cutie. These are songs that can be listened to again and again, liking more each time, and the medium-rock sound can find a place among many tastes. Jensen’s voice is just cool – there aren’t many singers like him out there, and that just adds to his appeal.

The only negative side of the EP is shockingly obvious: it is a tease! Yes, it’s just an EP, but it’s an EP so good that the small taste of Kaptur’s music is just plain mean. At only $4 (correct – $4) Kaptur’s album is a steal. “Thousands” can be streamed and purchased here, and check out Kaptur’s Facebook page for more details on live shows in the Niagara Region and future releases.

One listen and you’ll be hooked. Enjoy with a drink in hand, dreamy thoughts, and reluctant patience for Kaptur’s next release.

Kaptur - "Thousands"

Million Dollar Fix at Tipperary’s Pub – Show Review

Walking into Tipperary’s Pub is like stepping into the belly of an old ship: dark, slightly claustrophobic, and surrounded by wood. On Saturday night, much of this wood was due in part to the burlesque dancers and lingerie-clad waitresses who were there in support of the Alberta Cancer Society’s Underwear Affair. With all proceeds going to a good cause, admission was well worth the $10 ticket. An equally good reason to drop in on this show was to see rocking local band Million Dollar Fix.

Hailing from Calgary, the energetic group performed the middle set of the night, the juicy meat of a delicious rock burger. These three – Logan on guitar and vocals, Keegan on bass and vocals, and Jeff on drums – jumped on stage in a fit of energy. Looking like they stepped out of the sweet denim- and bandana-wearing days of the late ’80s and early ’90s, these guys looked and acted the part of true rockers.

They launched into their set with the explosive “Look Through Fire”. With heavy bass and loud drumming, the song was easy to follow and immediately got bodies moving. Fans of ’90s grunge will love Million Dollar Fix’s sound – they sounded like early Nirvana with a modern edge, sometimes adding in a bit of punk, metal, and their own sexyfunrock sound.

Although there were a few minor glitches – some mic feedback after the third song and a small cord malfunction – the band’s energy and enthusiasm made up for it. The venue wasn’t great for a show of this size, but Million Dollar Fix gave a fun, energetic, and amazing performance that kept the place jumping. If anything, these guys love to perform and were born to be on stage. If you get the chance to see Million Dollar Fix live, do it! They are definitely a band worth checking out.

Setlist:
Look Through Fire
The Condition Is Permanent
Wild Ladies
Painkillers
Surrender
Become a God
You’re Part Of This Now
Countdown to Midnight
The Rich

Taylor Cochrane – “Acoustic”

When Calgary-based Taylor Cochrane left his role as lead vocalist for The Kronic Groove Band, many of his fans expressed dismay: Where would Taylor go? What would he do? What was next for the talented and much-loved artist?

Fans had no need to worry, however. From start to finish, Cochrane’s debut and highly anticipated album “Acoustic” is an incredible collection of original songs that showcase the artist’s impressive talent as a songwriter. The album represents years of struggle and accomplishment for the talented Cochrane. A self-described “attention whore”, Cochrane shows skill and passion that most artists can only dream to achieve. Starting with the catchy “Narcissism and Yellow Fever” and ending with a bang with “This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You”, the album gets better with each listen. Cochrane draws on the inspiration of Elliott Smith, Say Anything, Regina Spektor, and The Beatles, adding his own brand of lyrics and energy to create a unique fusion of folk rock, reggae, ska and pop.

From the dreamy “It Feels Like We’re On A Safari”, which evokes images of beach parties and summer picnics, to the slower and honest self-reflective piece “Hypocrite”, Cochrane is a storyteller and a salesman. He’s not simply singing lyrics – his stories are believable and heartfelt, and his emotions, whether self-consciousness, hypochondria, or incredible sexual repression, come through clearly with each rhyme or folky phrase. At times bizarre and somewhat shocking, Cochrane’s lyrics are nothing less than honest, revealing a surprisingly deep and thoughtful writer. The listener is pulled in with catchy melodies and beats, but the lyrics themselves have so many double entendres and tricks that each listen reveals something that had previously gone unnoticed. With numerous double meanings, Cochrane’s lyrics are impressive and at times beautiful, at the very least.

It is refreshing to find a songwriter who doesn’t take himself so seriously and who is not just “dumping his depression on the world”. Cochrane reminds us of the ups and downs of being young, the struggles of life and relationships, and the day-to-day joy of being a gangster thug. We may not all feel the same way or understand what’s happening, but we can appreciate Cochrane’s quirkiness, his humour, and his incredible talent as a songwriter who still has so much left to share. The album truly is an incredible achievement of which Cochrane should be extremely proud. There is no doubt that he has “the wit, the talent, the confidence, [and] the inspiration to be great”, and no less is to be expected.

Listen to “Acoustic” and expect to love every track. You won’t be disappointed.

Taylor Cochrane - "Acoustic"

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