Continuing on from Thursday’s first entry, here is the remainder of David Hall’s recap of this year’s Manitoba Metal Fest.
Special Hellbound.ca post by Handshake Inc’s David Hall
A little worse-for-wear, but excited that the Brutal Truth show was going down that evening, we rolled out of bed around noon. After a couple of hours of bad television (my personal fave was the film “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band,” the movie, starring the Bee-Gees and Peter Frampton) I left our room and strolled down to the stairwell to have a smoke. In my groggy state I didn’t realize until it was too late, that there just happened to be a smoke detector above my head. “I wonder if cigarette smoke can set of a…,” was the last thought that ran through my head as a head-splitting fire alarm ripped through the hotel. Shit. I went back to our room and played dumb. The fire department was there and gone in under a half hour and some skeez-bag on the second floor admitted to pulling the fire alarm in the basement. Weird.
A convoy of three cars (for gear, merch and the rest of the band) headed to the airport around 3pm to pick up Kevin Sharp, Danny Lilker and Eric Burke. This time there was no Henry Winkler, and our wait time was significantly long and nerve wracking. I don’t think Corey (the promoter) was losing his shit – or if he was, he didn’t show it – but after close to an hour of waiting, I think we all started to wonder if there was a problem. Finally, a tall lanky gentleman with long curly hair proudly wearing a tattered Voivod shirt emerged from the international customs exit. “I gotta have a smoke man, I’ve been traveling for eight hours.” It was Danny Lilker. Not long after him came Kevin and Eric. They had all made it through. We had a Brutal Truth show on our hands.
After a great meal at the greasy spoon attached to the Osbourne Inn, we grabbed some beer from the beer store behind the hotel (oh yeah, forgot to mention there’s a beer store behind the Osbourne that’s open until 2:30 every night) and headed back to our room to drink, chill, hang-out film and puff tough. It was really fucking surreal I tell you. Hanging out, shooting the shit, acting like a bunch of dummies and geniuses and getting a more-than-generous buzz on with a band that has helped define and shape the state of grind and underground metal. And we got the whole thing on film.
After a blistering sound-check of “Suggar Daddy,” we all sort of did our own thing until show time. Eric set up the plentiful merch table, which sort of became home base for the rest of the night.
The first band of the night was Evil Survives, a NWOBHM group from Winnipeg. These dudes live for Priest and Maiden and put on a damn sick show. Loud, tight and full of energy. These guys are really fucking good at what they do.
Next up was Electro Quarterstaff, also from Winnipeg. I guess these guys were or are on Willowtip and played MDF a couple years ago. The band is purely instrumental and had a serious Fucking Champs/thrashy/Unsane vibe going on…really sick, these guys totally rule.
For the second time in two days I got to see Head Hits Concrete again. I don’t shoot too much of our stuff, but for these guys I grabbed a camera and headed to the stage. These guys are ferocious, and it’s a shame it was only their second show in nine years. I hope their recent reformation leads to more performances because they’re seriously heavy and totally the real deal.
head hits concrete
The last act before Brutal Truth was Malefaction. Also from Winnipeg, these guys also recently reformed specifically to play the Manitoba Metal Fest and show with Brutal Truth. These guys were clearly a crowd favorite; unleashing a mix of hard-core and grind upon the over-zealous pit. More than once, the singer had to ask the dudes and ladies up front to take care no one got hurt.
With Malefaction done playing, there was a large exodus to the parking lot to take part in some sort of behavior before Brutal Truth hit the stage. A great skunky cloud hung over the tarmac behind the Osbourne, and as I stood observing (merely for documentary purposes, obviously) this random, geared-up hip-hop dude approached me and started complaining about the show.
“That ain’t music, bro. Bunch of dirtbags screaming and hitting the fuck out of they drums. Na, son.”
At this point, hip-hop dude’s buddy showed up and berated his friend.
“Don’t be ignorant guy. That’s his music. You know when you hear a tasty-fresh beat, and lose your shit…that’s the same for this guy and that fucking noise in there.”
Before I really knew what was going on, these two maestros launched into a rehearsed performance of some rap they had written – complete with synchronized crunk moves and shout-outs. The whole parking lot basically went quiet, and all eyes fell on me – the sole dude that ‘Kid and Play’ were rapping to. I’m sure the thought running through everyone’s mind was ‘who the fuck is that asshole getting rapped to?’
As Brutal Truth made some final adjustments to their gear, the bar filled back up and an excited crowd pushed their way up to the stage barricade. Dave and Maddie grabbed their cameras, got deep into the shit and prepared to grind.
Before the soundman could leave the stage, Erik Burke began conjuring up some mad feedback and squeals, a few seconds of improv noise before Kevin Sharp grabbed his mic and announced “We’re Brutal Truth, and we’re here to annoy you for the next hour.” And then it began.
They started the set with a particularly punishing version of “Sugar Daddy.” However brutal and powerful Kevin Sharp is on record, the intensity and crushing delivery he brings live, is really a thing of terror and beauty. He destroys the fucking world with his voice, and from the get-go, from the first scream of the first song it was obvious that he (and the rest of the band for that matter – and the soundman too, cuz it sounded incredible) were in it to win it.
For the next hour and half the band kept going. They filled their set with gems from their back-catalogue and a heavy dose of tracks off Evolution Through Revolution. At one point in the set Kevin Sharp announced “I’m Henry Winkler and I need some booze goddamnit!” The crowd loved every minute of it. I don’t know if everyone there realized the significance of Brutal Truth playing their home town, but honestly, it doesn’t matter – the band was incredible. The music was fucking great. Inevitably when Brutal Truth comes up in discussion or interviewed, their politics and sociology of the world comes up, and I think that’s great, but first and foremost, these dudes write great music and perform it with gusto.
The band ended the set with “I Killed my Family,” off Kill Trend Suicide, and a cover of an old-school hardcore band from Philly called YDI (pronounced ‘Why Die.) I remembered Rich Hoak, talking the night before, about some hardcore gig he went to back in the day, and seeing YDI play and how awesome it was. As they played the song live, Rich screamed along with every lyric. It’s kind of cool to see the hidden meaning in things come out like that.
So the show came to a close. There was talk of another show at War On Music later that night, but it was already 2 a.m., and the Brutal Truth dudes all had to be at the airport by 5. Ultimately, Danny and Eric crashed and Kevin and Rich headed off to War On Music for an after party anyways. Dave and I were beat, and Maddie, god bless her, grabbed a camera and went off to film the rest of the night. I shook hands with Kevin and exchanged a manly hug with Rich. It was like 3 a.m. I set the alarm on my phone and passed out into darkness. I didn’t wake up until about 9.30 the next morning, when Dave sat up on the couch he crashed on and said “It’s quarter to ten.” We had missed our plane. Every production has at least one major hiccup. This time it came at the tail end. We got on a rescheduled flight and made it home only a few hours later. A fair compromise for such an amazing weekend.
Agnes Vein have well steeped themselves in the lore of Blood Fire Death-era Bathory and latter-day Celtic Frost, but at times, the music also hints at the drone and mood of Jesu. There’s also the strong aftertaste of Primordial in the guitar tone. It’s an eclectic mix, but the influences serve them well and Agnes Vein have managed to distill them down into their own secret formula. I highly recommend Duality to anyone whose ears pricked up at any of the aforementioned inspiration.