Recording Arts Canada | Institut d’Enregistrement du Canada decided to throw the second edition oftheir Talent Showcase. With many genres playing throughout the night, the crowd was a mix of family and friends supporting their loved ones on stage. I walked in and was flabbergasted by how empty the place was. For a Wednesday night in Montreal, andwith As I Lay Dying also playing the night, there were sadly not too many people there to fill Sala Rossa. It was evident that the event organizers wanted to express the amount of talent they have under their roof. A bonus to the night was that there was no cover, making it free for all to discover.
I arrived pretty late at the show, waiting to check Straight Jacket out. They were playing last which only makes sense being that they werethe heaviest band of the night. It was announced that there was also a surprise set to happen once all of the bands had performed. As Straight Jacket was setting up, there was a DJ spinning some house and it got some of the crowd dancing. James (vocals/guitarist) was up on stage humping his guitar to the beats. Of course it made me laugh. This guy has no filter. “Before we start the show, did you guys enjoy the bands? We fucking loved it… oops… I’m not supposed to say that word.”
I was really excited to see these guys play as they are right up there in my element. When I listen to Straight Jacket it brings me this feeling of nostalgia and reminds me of all the bands I listened to growing up like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Silverchair, Days of the New, andMelvins. For this group of dudes in their early 20s, I think it’s impressive that this music is still being played and going around.
The show began a little later than expected – around 10:45 which is normal considering there needed to be a new set up for each band. La Sala Rossa is one of my favorite venues for sound and lighting, so I thought this couldn’t have been a better choice for an event like this. With what seemed to be around 100 people there, a ton of the bands’ friends gathered close to the stage to support their friends play. “Nothing will go wrong tonight,” James toldthe crowd after thanking them for being there.
Their overall stage presence, again, brought me back to my grunge days, where I was hitting small venues to watch bands like Mudhoney and Soundgarden play. Lots of hair, band t-shirts, funky hats, sneakers, and baggy shorts. Thescreeching vocals thatpurposefully wentout of tune at some points alongside the demoralizing guitar solos, help from a back-up guitar strum, and swaying bass playing moves augmented the nostalgia.
“I’ll Never” was played third in the set and is one of my favorite Straight Jacket songs. It definitely reminds me of a cross between post-Layne’s death Alice in Chains’ “Sludge Factory” coupled with small hints of old school “Dam that River.” I really feel drummers are the glue of a band and Straight Jacket’s drummer has all ofthe talent/capability of bringing this band their sound. He, along with James’ raunchy guitar solos, back up by Anthony’s intense guitar strums, and the funky bass lines that come out through Brenan’s playing are a great combination of poise and sound.
“We do this for fun. We don’t have t-shirts or pins…we can’t afford it. Who here is broke!?” As the crowd cheered to James’ words, the band brings in “Why Prevail” to end the set. Friends recognized this song and cheered them on as they jammed the tune. As the song ended, they were eager to play more but the organizers of the event needed to announce who the winner of the talent showcase would be and what they win. Guess what? Straight Jacket won! They won free recording time at the school, so expect a new demo soon folks!
James started out jamming for fun with his pal Jason Ehrlick(drummer) years ago. When they both discovered each other’s talents, they thought to seriously start and see where theycould go with it. Straight Jacket was born along with Anthony Pulcini on guitar and Brenan Moffat on bass. They currently have a recorded eight-song demo made with Gabriel Scoppa.
Written by Liz Imperiale
Photography by John Fraser Landry