Review by Jason Wellwood, Photos by Ryan Trush
Sunday through Wednesday is a tough sell for a show in Thunder Bay. Even well established acts have fallen prey to the ‘I’ve got to work tomorrow’ excuses and played to less than full houses. When you have two bands playing together that have never set foot in Thunder Bay before…it’s an almost impossible job no matter how much promotion is done for the show (which is a different issue all together and one I’ll stay away from). With a huge 4 venue locals show looming in the very near future, it was impossible to get openers for this night either which also left the crowd a little lacking. Neither Marching Mind nor Scythia had played Thunder Bay previously but they continued on undaunted, treating the night like a show for a crowd of hundreds.
Marching Mind took the stage first and right from the start it was obvious that, despite the small crowd, the band was going to give us everything it had. Guitarist Chris Neal brought a few chuckles from the crowd as he jumped on stage in a lab coat and Christopher Lloyd fright wig but within seconds the chuckles turned into cheers. The danger with any ‘progressive’ band is, of course, the tendency to wander of into masterbatory solos and self indulgent noodling. Thankfully, Marching Mind keep everything focused on the song. From Jeremy’s keyboard and soaring vocals to the complicated rhythms pounded out by Will and Sebastian (bass and drums respectively), everything was about the song. Having heard a few songs previously I knew a little of what to expect from the band, but live they were a step above what I heard from their album, tight, captivating and a lot of fun as well. At one point in the evening a pair of ladies underpants was thrown on stage as well much to the delight of all the members of both bands.
Scythia, are nothing short of incredible particularly when you consider that the band had only been together for a few weeks prior to taking off on tour (member changes)! Leader of the pack David Khan is very much at home on the stage and leading his tribe through some of the best folk metal I’ve heard in a long time. Not only do they perform in costume but David takes on the role of the bard and speaks just as his character would have in between songs. One of the big changes of the band from album (…Of War) to this live tour is the switching out of violin for oboe. Oboist Morgan Zentner ably fills in the role of the violin changing the songs slightly but giving them a unique twist with her wind instrument. I’m not sure how she managed to play the oboe and head bang while wearing a leather corset, but she managed to pull it off quite well! The combination that is, not the corset…Drummer Celine is a much harder hitter than her predecessor, but it’s the subtleties in the quieter moments that really stand out live. Also, her voice is strong and snarling when adding background vocals to fist pounders like ‘Fierce Riders of Scythia’. All in all, the band was one hell of a lot of fun to see live and, much like Marching Mind, gave it their all for the small crowd.
Both bands are still on tour together through most of November (including a stop back here on November 2nd, hopefully to a bigger crowd) so I highly recommend catching them. Between Marching Minds progressive leanings and Scythia’s fun and catchy folk metal, it’s a fantastic show that’s sure to put your fist in the air and a grin on your face.