These guys don’t know where they’re playing. It’s always funny when artists performing at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec refer to the city as Montreal and not Laval – it must irk the Laval residence just a tad. It goes to show that artists must really be somewhat geographically disoriented at times, or just completely unknowledgeable of the city in which they’re performing. Moreover, did Laval really “…rock harder than all the other cities”? Whether these statements are sincere or merely ways of humouring the crowd, it’s rare to see such a strong audience response to an opening band like the one Three Days Grace received on Friday, March 1st.
Whether it was simply the high-quality sound equipment, good sound techs, or just natural talent, new frontman Matt Walst has most definitely preserved the strong vocal force that was once powered by Adam Gontier. The sound in general was incredibly thick and arena-shaking. Unless fully protected, nobody’s ears were safe. (*No one was, according to Disturbed.)
With a jam-packed floor, the fist pumps all in unison resembled an anarchist rally – Walst had the crowd at his service. Scissor-kick jumping off drummer Neil Sanderson’s eight-foot-high drum stage during “Break,” belting out such classic hits as “I Hate Everything About You” as well as “Never Too Late, ” and running around this massive five-tier stage, Walst and his gang weren’t slowing down before ensuring that the audience was fully ignited for the night’s main event. The shameless “Seven Nation Army” interlude to “Animal I Have Become” certainly assisted in doing so.
Oh wha-ah-ah-at a show. Following a rather lengthy overture video montage consisting of new and vintage footage of past Disturbed videos with slightly hokey captions including “When music is the weapon no one is safe,” the black trench-coat-wearing frontman David Draiman and his three-man army stormed the stage, opening with “Are You Ready” followed immediately by “Prayer,” a song that, while listening to it as kid, I would have never thought I’d experience live. Although the sound was fat and gut-busting, the vocals suffered a bit at first, sounding a bit muddy and struggling to compete with the overbearing drums and guitar volumes. Eventually, this issue was resolved and the quality improved; however, the sound was quite disturbing for a little while.
Seeing their imagery and listening to their music on a superficial level, one might not have expected Draiman to be such a preachy dude, but shit is he ever! Prior to “Stupify,” the guy went on and on about living harmoniously amongst his “brothers and sisters, [his] blood” and encouraged us to not allow politics to divide us, which is totally cool and decent, I just assumed they hailed Satan, is all (I would love to hear what the social justice warriors have to say about that statement.)
Following “Hold On to Memories” after a pretty sweet performance of Genesis’ “Land of Confusion,” the lights dropped and the screen projected a recording of another preachy instance of Draiman speaking out about addiction and depression where phone numbers for addiction and crisis helplines were then displayed on the screen. Maybe I’m being ignorant, but way to bring down the mood, dude. Relocating to a smaller and more intimate stage mid-floor, the disturbed individuals performed “A Reason to Fight” and “Watch You Burn,” of course accompanied by yet another motivational speech by Draiman to seek help if suffering with mental struggles or substance abuse.
Upon returning to the main stage, things got real. The sound was not silent, but the song…the song was “The Sound of Silence,” and it was sweet. Guitarist Dan Donegan was playing piano; a cellist and a violinist appeared on stage; there was a piano on fire?!?! Holy heavens, it was righteous. It was a very moving experience which was most certainly the calm before the storm. After this divine performance of Simon & Garfunkle’s classic hit, the band fired into “Indestructible” followed by “Inside the Fire,” where several burning objects were displayed on stage, including narrow rolls of burning cloth hanging from the ceiling which kind of resembled burning toilet paper.
Draiman used the ol’ invite-fans-up-onto-the-stage antic, and he welcomed an elderly woman and her daughter to join them on stage during their encore. The women responded in very broken English to the frontman’s questions, making the event pretty cringeworthy and a bit embarrassing, but hopefully the ladies will never forget that experience for positive reasons. Upon the conclusion of their serenade during “The Light,” followed by “Stricken” and “No More,” the show came to a close where everybody got “Down with the Sickness.”
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Mihaela Petrescu
*edited by Kate Erickson