The first round of Asher Media’s Concours Rocker– the prize for which is a spot playing at the Montebello Rockfest in June, among other things – felt more like a gathering of close friends in Montreal’s rock community than it did a large scale battle of the bands. The Graveyard Strippers had, like, two people in front of them on Katacombes’ dancefloor when they started roaring through their set of industrial-tinged alt-metal. To their credit, the girls in front of them looked to be dedicated fans of the band, dressed head to toe in metal drag and looking like…wait, is it in bad taste to make a joke using the band’s name? The band themselves played as though they had 20,000 people in front of them. The breakdowns hit like bricks, and their uniform ownership of the stage made for an impressive performance. I solid way to start the evening.
Saturn Alien are a strange group of people, and were extremely entertaining to watch. A wildly eclectic mashup of funk, prog, and numerous other genres, their set ebbed and flowed like a hurricane. Frontman Louis Butterfield (really? Is that actually his name?) jumped and ran and wormed and danced his way around the room to the point where it often looked like his feet weren’t even on the ground. If you’re a fan of zany music, you should check this band out.
Limp Bizkit- I mean Disturbed- I mean Godsmack… I actually mean Big Kick were up next. Their brand of radio rock had hooks, had choruses, had riffs and riffs and riffs, but just couldn’t seem to stand up to the previous two acts’ wild performances. It’s a shame, because they do make music that, given the right push, could easily be played hourly on CHOM or any like-minded radio station. It should also be noted that their drummer has a knack for crunchy rhythms and is a talent to be watched.
By the time Guttrot stumbled onto the stage, the night had hit its peak in terms of crowd size, which really isn’t saying much. In total, there may have been 50 people in the place – bands, staff and judges included. Still, Guttrot destroyed the stage like any good punk rock band should. And believe me, Guttrot are a very, very, very good punk rock band. Their music is fast, aggressive, melodic, and loud. The members of the band were clearly more than a little intoxicated, yet every punch hit, every solo soared, and every scream roared. It’s no surprise that this band contains members who have been making music in Montreal for years, just like it’s no surprise that they walked away the evening’s winners.
Local music scene mainstay, fellow Bucketlist contributor, and all around great guy Jason Greenberg did a formidable job of hosting with a moustache. If you were on the fence about attending the next three rounds, you should make the trip out just to see him do his thing. Giving the judges free reign to speak their minds to the bands after each set also gave the crowd something to cheer and boo for, and was a nice touch. All of the judges seemed to know what they were talking about except for that guy with the glasses on the far right, what a tool. Just kidding, that was me. I’m awesome.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Angie Radczenko