My momma always said life was like going to a concert, you never know what you’re going to get; that is exactly what happened at Café Campus on November 2nd, 2018. As I braved the cold wilderness of Montreal, I came to the realization that I had no clue who any of the bands were. With little to no time to do a pre-show search, I was completely unaware of even the genres these bands played, though I deduced there might be a Punk crowd, based on some of the posts on the Facebook event page. After meeting up with a friend, a friend of that friend told me that he felt the main band, The Creepshow, was rockabilly with folk influences, to which my another friend disagreed, finding punk influences. Clearly opinions were scattered, but I was nonetheless excited for this show and to discover new music.
First up was Bats in the Belfry, a three-piece that I had heard of often, but never actually seen live. Even though they were a member short, the two ladies put on a very tight and entertaining show. The band plays a sort of Folk/bluegrass blend, with a mixture of guitar and mandolin, which both members played during their set. Both are extremely skilled musicians, and though there was a lot of dead time between songs, which made it hard for me to stay connected with the music (which is understandable, considering they were a member short), they always recovered well with the next song. I’d say the strongest thing about these ladies were their voices. Both of them had amazing vocals and were always on key with each other. Bats in the Belfry had some of the best harmonies I have ever seen in a live show.
From Burlington, Ontario, came The Penske File, your state of the art punk rock band. A hard hitting three-piece, The Penske File had some extremely catchy melodies and I often found myself wishing I could join the pit instead of taking notes. They all sang and again, the melodies were strong with this one. Guitarist Travis Miles brought on a harmonica while playing guitar, which is always appreciated and fun to see. Though the harmonica parts were basic, they blended extremely well with the music. Bassist James Hall and drummer Alex Standen might be the same person, I’m not sure. Those two were tighter than bark on trees. It was incredible to see how easily they stayed on time, almost playing the same thing but with different instruments. All three also had a strong stage presence, even the drummer, who would often stand up to make sure the crowd was moving. It was a strong performance by three guys who do what they do best and are extremely grateful for the chances they have.
Finally, Creepshow and let me tell you, the people were pleased. The venue had filled up at this point and I was ready to experience what everyone was so excited about. With a cool introduction and ominous lighting, in walked Sean Mcnab with his giant upright bass, drummer Sandro Sanchioni, lead guitarist and keyboard player Chuck Coles and Kristian Rowles, and finally singer Kenda Legaspi. Right off the bat, I could tell these guys knew what they were doing. Already the crowd was dancing, feeding off the oozing confidence of The Creepshow. The band erupted into action and right away, I have to say, the keys could have been louder. One some songs, I could hardly hear what he was playing, which was a shame because when he had a solo part or when the music was softer, he sounded great. The overall performance was electric, with a great sound man keeping everything in check and a singer making sure everyone was moving. We also got a great drum solo, with Sean Mcnab picking up a guitar to play with his fellow guitarist. I have to say, I agree with my friend, these guys were a pure blend of punk and rockabilly. The song “The Devil’s Son” was a perfect example, giving both a classy and trashy vibe. We even got two encores, with the singer asserting her dominance and launching herself into the pit, proving once more that you don’t want to mess with short people.
I was pleasantly surprised with how night turned out. All bands on the bill played extremely well and tore the roof off. By the end, people were sweating and the room was hotter than hell. The breath of fresh air I took as I stepped out of the venue was invigorating, but I was already hoping for another occasion to see these bands play and have a blast!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy