It was a cold but fairly pleasant evening as I headed out to L’Hemisphere Gauche on Beaubien to see what promised to be an authentic rock n’ roll show. It was also the night before Halloween, which explained why so many people in the metro and on the streets were dressed up as ghouls, monsters, and an assortment of floozied-up professions. Despite the flyer promoting the show as a Halloween party, I didn’t see any audience members in costumes… I didn’t feel under dressed in my simple jack-o-lantern pumpkin shirt.
L’Hemisphere is a decent venue, not huge but not too small. There is an elevated section with tables and chairs where you can watch the stage from a distance, but they also have a view of some TVs, which is nice for keeping an eye on the Habs game. The bar located in the middle of the locale has an inexpensive drink menu, and the staff that were working were friendly. Beyond the bar is a lowered section that makes up the pit/dance floor right in front of the stage that comfortably fits about five musicians and their instruments.
The show had been put together by Denis Lavigne of Vigne Management and MC’d by Mario Lamarre. Originally the show was a triple bill with What Comes To Life as the headliner. Unfortunately just two days prior the band dropped out; apparently a member had quit the band, and they felt they could not play without that person. But despite a last minute lineup change, the show must go on.
Taking the stage first was Montreal’s home grown rock band Slender. They’re a five-piece featuring three guitars, bass, and drums, with front man Frank Valiante playing guitar and singing. They started off with some original tracks (whose names I wasn’t able to catch) that set the tone of unadulterated rock. Mr. Valiante introduced the third track, a cover of “Fortunate Son” by C.C.R, by saying it was his favorite even though his band mates felt differently. They didn’t “kill” the song in either sense of the word, so they did it just right with their own variation on the end, a long pause outro. About mid set he switched to a lower gear and an acoustic guitar. It had the right amount of highs and lows for an unpretentious soft rock song that was unlike what you might often hear on the radio. You can check out some live footage of them on YouTube playing at Petit Campus early this year.
Next on the L’Hemisphere stage was Fallen Heirs from Toronto. I had never heard this band before and didn’t really have any expectations, but was fairly impressed within the first couple of tracks. The second tune they played, “Wake up,” is one of their latest singles, and is being featured on this year’s Rock’Em Sock’Em Hockey DVD. They’re stoked about the feature, and who wouldn’t be. They played one cover which I believe was “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains, and they performed an incredible job with it. I liked their hard-rock sound; it was solid, and reminded me that there are still quality new rocks bands out there. Their new EP Eyes Wide Open is available now, and they often play live shows in and around Toronto. They’ll be opening for Scott Weiland at the Hard Rock Cafe in T.O. on December 1st, so that will probably be an excellent show to catch them at.
Written by Joey Beaudin
*edited by Kate Erickson