So here we are, the final qualifying round of Asher Media’s Concours Rocker, wherein the grand prize is a spot playing in the Montebello Rockfest. The contest is over, and all that remains is the finale. The evening got off to a rocky start; coming up to 9 o’clock, there were even less people present in Montreal’s Coop Katacombes than there had been for the first two rounds, and one judge was missing in action.
Finally, after making it through heavy traffic, the last judge arrived and, manly-as-his-moustache host Jason Greenberg was able to introduce The Bombs, who rocked through an awesome 80s style set, complete with an 80s style wardrobe. Though the absence of regular bassist Raw-Ksi (no, seriously) may have rendered the band slightly nervous and fully without harmonies, lead guitarist and vocalist Tessa Hovington used her formidable pipes to lead the band through the fire, and the closing cover of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself For Loving You” was spot on.
Stock Tone System’s brand of alt metal is as groovy as it is punchy. It was entertaining to watch these dudes interact throughout their set of radio-ready chuggers, as they sincerely seemed to be having the time of their lives. Frontman Patrick Laforest did a great job of animating the crowd and introducing their totally relatable tunes. Drummer Xavier LeBlanc showed off some impressive chops as well. The power ballad “Crawl” was a personal highlight.
The night just kept getting better and better as spastic hardcore band In The Name of Havoc seizured their way onto the stage (I know “seizured” is not a word, but I’m an artist). Looking like a group of amoebas and rarely pausing for any sort of spoken interaction with the crowd, their violent blend of punk, ska, grind, and death may well be my favorite musical discovery of this competition so far. It’s no surprise that they walked away as one of the evening’s two bands to play the finale. Having host Jason Greenberg give the microphone some guest roars to close out their slot was pretty cool as well.
The night’s other winner, DistortHead, are so metal they would make Dethklok proud. With some of the most synchronized helicopter headbanging you will ever lay your eyes on, their brand of melodic metal takes as much influence from Euro-deathers like In Flames or The Haunted as it does NWOAHM hitters like Shadows Fall. Their music is tight, catchy, and never boring, and their breakdowns are given extra weight with a meaty six-string sound. Though their f-bomb happy frontman Phil Ranger would definitely not be welcome at any child’s birthday part, DistortHead would be a great choice to represent Montreal’s large metal community at Rockfest.
So that’s it! The three bands playing at the finale will be Dirt Cannon, In the Name of Havoc, and DistortHead, which means that you should expect a night of awesome performances, great energy and solidly diverse music. There will again be a pompous and opinionated panel of judges including yours truly; Jason Greenberg will be lifting his arms, drinking beers and occasionally hosting; and of course Bucketlist will be represented in full force.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Stacy Basque