Man, Montreal has a serious metalhead population. I’m not sure that there’s any other genre of music listened to by Montrealers that creates such a strong sense of community amongst fans throughout the city. To think, a style of music that produces such nightmarishly-looking and smelling people could create such love and harmony. Incroyabluh!
Upon walking into the Corona Theatre on Tuesday evening, I noticed that the venue was packed AFuck. I’m not saying that the opening acts were no names or anything – I mean, they have Wikipedia pages – but it’s not always the case that a venue is going to be jammed at the beginning of the night, especially when there are two opening acts. So, good job, opening bands. You did… a good job.
Standing (and sitting) at the edge of the stage, The Inspector Cluzo duo, Laurent Lacrouts, and Mathieu Jourdain managed to quadruple-handily create an immediate permeation of heavy energy throughout the venue. It didn’t sound like there were bass tracks supporting their sound, so the bass settings must have been boosted to eleven for the guitar player and drummer, or they did, in fact, have bass tracks. Either way, the sound was thick and pounding even without the presence of a bass player. People try creating bands made up of only a guitar player/singer and a drummer, except a lot of the time the singer is trash and the sound is thin. Cluzo’s vocalist Laurent Lacrouts, however, has the voice of a choir boy angel. Dressed in spiffy clothing, drummer Mathieu Jourdain played so intricately, hard and fast that his sticks would disappear. He also has quite the sensual dance moves, which he showed off by dancing atop his kickdrum as Lacrouts sex-a-fied the very receptive and energized crowd with some mellow psychedelic soul. Taking apart his drumkit while Jourdain drum soloed out of the set, Lacrouts stripped Jourdain of his drumkit piece by piece until the only drumkit on stage was the one Avatar would unleash onto the crowd later in the evening.
Rolling out their drumkit that would accompany the one that “Avatar would unleash onto the crowd later in the evening,” ‘68 set up their own stage very similar to that of The Inspector Cluzo – right at the edge of the stage. The duo (also similar to The Inspector Cluzo) would be another force of extreme energy that continued the current with which Cluzo jolted the crowd. The high voltage was especially running through former The Chariot member Josh Scogin who started off their set with wildman behaviour, spastically dancing around and throwing his guitar way up high, catching it every time without fail. The cohesion between the two members was incredibly strong and endearing, Scogin hardly ever facing the audience as he screamed in pitch into the microphone placed directly in front of the drumkit, creating more of a jam-like image than your conventional live, audience-facing performances. Complex, high-energy drumming combined with psychedelic guitar effects utilized by the very charismatic and crowd-energizing Josh Scogin made for a very complementing opening act for Avatar, as well as follow up act to The Inspector Cluzo, especially when Scogin also started taking apart the drumkit on their closing track as his loop pedal played out a heavy guitar riff.
And then I guy fell up the stairs right in front of me, spilling his beer and almost smashing his face.
Like hellfire, Avatar ignited the venue with intense power in their instrumental blast. Walking out onto the stage one by one, the members of this unholy-looking band blazed the trail for their frontman Johannes Eckerström, also referred to as the king by his fans, who stomped onto the stage, standing as high as a fuckin beanstalk. As the giant AVATAR sign lit up and flashed behind drummer John Alfredson, the band fired into synchronized headbanging where the crowd then began to “Hail The Apocalypse.” Though the instrumentals were ferocious and heavy-hitting, the stage presence was demonically impacting, and Eckerström’s creeping charisma and spooky speeches riled up the crowd, the microphone levels were nevertheless super low. There were times where I could barely hear the melody of the song, let alone the lyrics, and it was evident that Eckerström was yelling intensely and passionately into the microphone. Regardless of this unfortunate reality, the visual performance was spectacular and very theatric. The lights were wild and eerie and the outfits worn by the members were satanically regal. The demonic kingdom was pretty well represented; however, I think more haunting decor and props could have been added to the set. Songs such as “Bloody Angel,” Paint Me Red,” and “Tower” really got the crowds participating. Bringing out the trombone during “Puppet Show,” Eckerström is certainly an entertaining frontman. Closing the night with “The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country,” and “Smells Like a Freakshow,” the members of the audience were dismissed from the kingdom.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Nicolas Racine
*edited by Danielle Kenedy