There are few things more delightfully disorienting than attending a show whose bill is loaded with acts you’ve never heard of, but finding the venue packed anyway. Such was my initial experience with the Truckfighters show at one of my favourite venues in the city, Bar Le Ritz. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though; Montreal is a sucker for stoner rock and southern metal, and this evening had both in abundance.
The night opened with The Naked High. Their sound covered a lot of diverse metal territory. Their vocalist had an operatic Iron Maiden vibe, while the guitar playing took cues from Ozzy Osbourne‘s career and beyond. The second song in their set had a distinctly early metal sound, but a lot of the guitar parts evoked a slightly younger generation, particularly the squealing tendencies of Zakk Wylde. While the drug references were light in comparison to the act that followed, songs like “Liquid Love” and “I Trip Alone” reminded the audience of the evening’s theme and got enthusiastic cheers from the audience.
Tumbleweed Dealer was a blunt instrumental band, whose onstage banter did an interesting job of lightening the mood that their music evokes. Their guitar player had an aggressive stage presence so performative that it felt more like watching a mainstream wrestler than a typical, moody musician. Their sound was kind of diverse, ranging from catchy southern metal to more prog-rock influenced metal bands like Isis. In general, though, most of their songs could be described as slow and groovy. They were also the first and last band to drive home the stoner aesthetic with any particular force. They had comically titled songs like “Blunt Lust” and “Widow’s Weeds” (which was introduced as a song about the TV show Weeds, with a small rant about how the first two seasons are the only ones worth watching). The band’s guitar parts were intricate thanks to ample use of a looping pedal.
Kings Destroy were, sonically, more of a mixed bag. Part of this was due to the fact that it was often unclear where most of the songs ended and the next ones began. Their songs had lots of individual parts that covered separate, but not unrelated, metal subgenres. Some songs were groovy and southern-metal inspired, while other slower parts were more clearly rooted in doom-metal. They also had parts with quick, driving tempos that were rooted in hardcore and punk, but always classic versions of those sounds. Their versatile lead vocalist did an excellent job of matching these sonic shifts. Sometimes he would be wailing like Bruce Dickinson, then minutes later he’d be grunting and growling like the frontman of an 80s hardcore band. The second-to-last song of their set had a charming moment during an instrumental break where he stood by the drum-kit, passionately headbanging to the music.
Truckfighters played last, and with some unfortunate difficulty. Their set was delayed for quite a while by technical difficulties with one of their amps. While this was frustrating for me, a journalist with only so much time left before I had to leave, the audience was forgiving. More than that, the Truckfighters set was the first one where the audience seemed particularly enthused. They must have been feeding off of the band’s energy, because it too was in abundance. Their banter and audience interaction was on point, and they even took the time to teach us some lyrics in their native language, Swedish.
There’s something special about seeing a band that is clearly having the time of their life onstage, and Truckfighters had this quality in spades. With hair flying everywhere, the trio never stopped moving. Headbanging while they played, running around the stage, and a plethora of jumping made them an endless well of energy for the audience to feed off of. It was just the jolt the show needed. Once I saw how much the crowd was moving, it drew attention to how little of a reaction the other bands had managed to get from them. Two of the three songs I was able to see were perfect set openers. They played fast and heavy songs through fuzzy tones that reminded me of Pallbearer, but with way more energy. There’s something retro sounding about their vocal melodies and the lead singer’s voice. Unfortunately, the latter didn’t impress me much. There’s something leaden and subdued about it that doesn’t match the energetic ferocity of the rest of their sound. However, the lead singer is also their bass player, and that instrument’s tone did not disappoint. The bass stood out on each track, and played super well with the guitar tone, which was exceptionally low and heavy. The overall bass tone of their riffs reminded me of CKY. I was sad to leave after their third song because it was clear that this band wasn’t running out of steam any time soon.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson