The Corona Theatre, known locally as the little brother to the Bell Center (as it is managed by concert promoter giant Evenko), was full of bearded, plaid shirt and jean jacket-wearing hard rock fans eager to hear the monster grooves (no pun intended) of Hamilton, Ontario band Monster Truck.
The night got started with Montreal rock duo Les Deuxluxes, who have an interesting format featuring a guitar-playing female lead singer, and a male guitar player who also assumes the duty of pounding a bass drum pedal. Though they lack a full band setup, the sound was still loud, in-your-face, and full of energy, thus giving the already decent-sized crowd a good opening half hour of music.
UK blues rockers The Temperance Movement nearly stole the show as the second act. Lead vocalist Phil Campbell is a true force of nature. With his small, lanky appearance he seemed like he was literally floating around on stage as he swerved around with snake like movements, somewhere in between what you would have seen from Axl Rose or Scott Weiland in their prime. His lead vocals were equally as captivating with a bluesy, raspy swagger that cut through the mix like a chainsaw. The rest of the band was great as well, especially guitar player Paul Sayer who had just the right amount of taste and groove to his playing, but never got into any showboating territory. Playing cuts from their latest album White Bear such as “Modern Massacre” and “Three Bullets,” their sound was massive, just the kind of pure rock and roll that this crowd loved, despite many of them not seeming to have known the band beforehand. It was a standout performance for everyone in attendance, and they got a rousing ovation afterwards that was well deserved.
Just as you would have expected, Monster Truck strolled out on stage as casually as any band I’ve seen: no special lighting effects or extended intro soundtracks to be seen or heard, just the band coming out ready to deliver- and that they did. Though the volume had already been turned up in the relatively small theatre, it was at near Motörhead-levels of ear drum destructiveness, but no one was complaining as the band kicked things off with “Don’t tell me how to live” a great single off of their latest album Sittin Heavy. Guitarist Jeremy Widerman is the true showman of the group, running around, and head banging to every riff. He stood out a lot, as the rest of the band had a much more laidback stage presence. In fact, lead singer and bass player Jon Harvey was a little disappointing; he delivered a flawless vocal performance, but was almost totally absent in speaking to the audience at all. It created a little bit of a disconnect, which it could be felt since the crowd seemed to enjoy the show, but there was no moshing, jumping, crowd surfing, or any other such antics. It was instead a “stand there and nod your head” kind of night. Keyboardist Brandon Bliss was also unfortunately buried under the rest of the band’s instruments, and had he not been on stage, I don’t think anyone would have noticed what he was playing. Luckily the rest of the band sounded exactly as they should; the grooves were tight, and the guitar was as loud as could be on numbers like “She’s A Witch” and “For The People.” The roar of the audience was palpable when the massive, evil-sounding riff of “Seven Sea Blues” kicked in.
By the time Monster Truck came back on stage and ended with their signature “Sweet Mountain River,” it was obvious that this is a true meat-and-potatoes type band, as much in terms of their approach to song writing as in their live performances. But for the crowd that they attract, I can’t imagine them having it any other way.
Written by Benjamin Massicotte
Photography by Hugues Bouchard
*edited by Kate Erickson