Hey man, I know you’ve been in this business a long time, and I respect that. You were in Change of Heart, who I heard on the radio a couple times, and Bionic. Well, Bionic got better after you left, but that’s nothing personal. They couldn’t beat Black Blood, so they broke up. No biggie. Now you’ve become the “go-to guy” for local bands who want to capture that 70’s sound on record, and you DJ sometimes at the Bovine. Hey, that’s cool. I’m not a big fan of the ol’ Sweatbox, but the stuff you spin is better than whoever’s iPod is on otherwise.
I’ve been hearing about your new band, C’mon, for a little while now. On paper, I should really like you guys, a 70’s-style power trio. But I don’t. I just can’t get into it. The sound is there, more or less, but I don’t dig you guys the way I dig Monster Truck and White Cowbell Oklahoma. And it’s not because they play you on commercial rock radio, either, although my beaten-down inner campus radio DJ might beg to differ. Hell, MT is playing Edgefest this year, and I once saw WCO at the freakin’ Republik, at a Jagermeister-sponsored event, with muthafuckin’ Robin Black opening. It doesn’t get more mainstream than that…
Mind you, whenever I see Monster Truck take the stage (and it’s usually well after midnite), their energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and Cowbell is the best live act in the whole fuckin’ province, hands-down. They’re the only Toronto-based band I’d pay 15 bucks to see without feeling ripped off. On the other hand, your gig at the Horseshoe last nite had all the passion and feigned enthusiasm of a 10-dollar hooker faking an orgasm so she can go out and score some crack. I can’t say I’ve seen you at your best, but I’m hoping that was your worst gig ever, for your sake.
When I saw you drag your tired, sorry-looking asses on stage last nite, I figured you guys were on tour. It looked like you’d been to Prince Edward Island and back. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I gather, the tour started last nite in Peterborough. I mean, the Pete’s the kinda place where you play a gig, drive home afterwards, and go to work the next day. If that’s what you actually did, I can sympathize, but I have a hard time believing you couldn’t grab a nap somewhere before a hometown show. These festival gigs don’t usually require much setup on the artist’s part, though I see you brought your own gear, nevertheless.
And yes, you guys were sandwiched on the bill between two hardcore punk bands, but from where I was standing, it looked like C’mon fans outnumbered the punkers two-to-one, if not three-to-one. (The mass exodus after your set allowed me to walk from the back of the floor to the front of the stage for Off!) That you got such little crowd response from a crowd that was mostly there to see you should speak volumes. You looked like shit, sounded like ass, and didn’t play too great, either. That’s why you got little more than a polite cheer–and only when you asked for it.
Your between-song banter didn’t make things any better, either. I don’t know what was worse, some guy coming up on stage to give you money between songs (Drug debt? Last nite’s guarantee? You tell me…), your bassist harping on you like a mother hen for not changing your strings beforehand, or your lackluster attempts to get the crowd going. That comment about how Ottawa likes sloppy, unprofessional bands like yourselves was pretty good, though, I’ll give you that. But I don’t think it won you any new fans.
I gotta say, if I have such lucid recollections of last evening, it’s because I was stone-cold sober, coming straight from a movie screening just down the street. And it was in this sober state of mind that I realized why C’mon never clicked with me. You guys just aren’t heavy enough. Sure, there are some heavy riffs here and there, one or two in every song. But they always come in with the chorus, or the pre-chorus bridge. The verses are all pretty boring and non-descript. I could probably dig you guys if you wrote a solid song from start to finish instead of going for the big radio chorus every time. That’s what’s holding you back, in my books, anyways.
Even your stage moves seemed scripted and rehearsed. When Damian Abraham leaped over the barrier at Dundas Square, it was crazy, spontaneous, Fucked Up. But when you announce it’s your last song, then wander into the crowd, it just seems like that’s how you end your show every nite. And I gotta say, that little jam session sounded kinda cool–for about 30 seconds, before the bass cut out. Your guitar solo, if you can call it that, was the worst thing I’ve heard this side of Janick Gers. I think I’d rather listen to “More Than a Feeling” played on a dentist drill than that horrible buzzing sound you were making.
Unlike what one of your dyed-in-the-wool fans said afterwards, that wasn’t a “rock star” performance, it was bush league. And you were complaining on stage about not being signed? Buddy, lemme tell ya, if you wanna get signed, you’re gonna hafta shave that beard, put on some leather pants and start rocking out to Dr. Feelgood. You’re too Top 40 for the stoner rock labels, and the 70’s rock revival ship already sailed with the majors a couple years back. Maybe if you changed your name and moved to Sweden, you might land a deal with Metal Blade, but you know what the best of the Swedish bands, like Graveyard and Witchcraft, have that you don’t? Soul. You can write a radio single any day of the week, but you can’t fake soul, baby!
Anyways, I see you’re in Hamilton tonite, then you’ve got a couple days off before you head out west. Rest up, you’ll need it. I grew up in Cowtown, and lemme tell ya, that movie Hard Core Logo paints a pretty accurate picture of touring Western Canada, even 15 years later. If you’ve got problems now, wait till ya hit the prairies…
Actually, I might see ya in Calgary this Friday, if you make it there in one piece. Mind you, if I’m over at Olympic Plaza by 4 pm, it’s only to stake out a spot up front for Sleep. I got moshed to the back of the room in Portland last year after I showed up late. Not that you care. But if you manage to suck less in seven days, I’ll forget that last nite ever happened. I probably wouldn’t pay to see your band again, but if they stick you on some other bill, I might not go across the street for pizza when you play.
Then again, a solid performance from Bison B.C. or the Buzzcocks would make me forget all about the opening band next Friday, to say nothing of Sleep. Anyways, good luck with the tour ‘n shit. Just don’t pull the trigger in Edmonton, okay?
P.S.: A full recap of this year’s non-metal NXNE will be up on THTGIR by Tuesday at the latest, if you care. If you’re Ian Blurton, you probably don’t.