The second round of Asher Media‘s Concours Rocker at Montreal’s Coop Katacombes started very much like the first one, with one idiot (me) standing in front of the stage headbanging, and a total of maybe twenty other people in the venue, staff, judges and bands included. To their credit, Unbeing started things off with a huge bang. Their take on instrumental math metal blends all sorts of styles, with a result that sounds not unlike Between the Buried and Me sans front man. Their opening sample of “This is Chuck Norris” was a nice touch. Special mention to bassist Alexandre Murdock D’Amour, who spent the outro of the set slapping like a pro.
False Flag Heroes were…well…remember Coal Chamber? No? That’s ok, there’s nothing particularly memorable about them either. Guitarists Shaun Foley and Dom Gagnon provided the evening’s only attempt at some kind of synchronized stage uniform, wearing matching military-style jumpsuits, but the fact that none of the rest of the band hopped on board made it look kind of half-assed. Front man Nick Doyle had a decent set of pipes and a solid stage presence to go with them, but the fact that the sampling provided by drummer Davey Alisich was far more interesting than any of the actual music being presented made for a very lackluster set.
Ironically, with only three members, Scud and the Grimes provided the evening’s largest crowd. All of a sudden, Coop Katacombes was filled with happy and drunk-looking punk kids. The band, who sound kind of like an updated version of the Dead Kennedys, flowed smoothly through a set of funk-tinged punk rock. One hilarious moment of spoken word poetry helped introduce the night’s first mosh pit. Although these dudes have talent and a knack for melody, the drawback to their stage show is that they seem to have one very small target audience: their friends. With such varied subject matter as Dawson College, the year 2006, and doing too much acid, it’s hard to imagine that their reach could extend very much past the people present in the room. Still, a good time was had by all, and the judges seemed to agree that doing acid is a great way to guarantee a good set…I guess.
And then, just like that, the crowd was gone. If you’d blinked, you’d have been very confused as to where all the people went. Apparently, playing in an old-style punk band is a great way to guarantee that a crowd comes out to see you…and only you. Therefore, when 1st place winners Dirt Cannon took the stage, the crowd had reverted back to a whopping almost zero people. Though the band’s songs are basically total ripoffs of southern hardcore heroes Every Time I Die, there were some killer riffs that would have made Dimebag proud. The dual singing/screaming vocals provided by the front man and the guitarist (whose names I couldn’t seem to find on either of their websites) were not unlike some of the more awesome moments Atreyu might have pulled off in their heyday.
All in all, when compared to the first round, this was an evening of solid performances, but with nothing overly stellar. Here’s hoping Thursday’s third attempt will bring out some hidden gems.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Shannon Fong SLF Photography