I’m not one to mince words, nor to give perfect-10s, but I gotta say, last nite’s gig at the Courthouse was the best show I’ve seen in Toronto this year. The rock-solid triple bill held its own with a coupla festival gigs I’ve seen elsewhere–and in terms of quality over quantity, it definitely takes the cake.
I must admit that I had never heard of the place before the tour was announced, and when I looked it up, it looked like a dance club, so I was more than a little apprehensive at first. But the layout was perfect for a doom show, with its high ceilings and medieval decor. The semi-circle stage allowed the crowd to get up close and personal with the bands, though I was blinded by the stage lites shining in my face. My initial impression couldn’t have been more wrong. The Courthouse’s ambiance and sound system kick the shit outta the Annex WreckRoom, and I’d come back in an instant–provided there were heavy bands playing.
Local lifers Sons of OTIS opened the gig, and I couldn’t think of a better Toronto outfit to get things started. From the front of the stage, the bass rumbled and the fuzz hit me right in the face as they went through a handful of tunes, live staples “I’m Gone” and “Bad Man,” a lengthy jam on “Vitus”–their twisted take on “Born Too Late”–and a couple new tunes, along with a familiar-sounding instro jam. Ken had left himself a note on stage “Don’t Fuck This Up!”–I’d say the only thing they fucked up was the crowd’s eardrums.
Dark Castle, the touring support, drew the middle slot, and they weren’t exactly the meat in the sludge sandwich. A male-female guitar/drums duo, their stage presence brings Jucifer to mind (minus the amplifiers) while they sound something like the aforementioned mixed with OTIS, and a couple crust riffs thrown in for good measure. That said, the lack of bottom end didn’t do ’em any favours in these ears, nor did the blackened guitar tones. Still a decent supporting act, but they didn’t change my views on bands without bass.
YOB was simply crushing. I’m almost at a loss for words. Yes, this isn’t the YOB of old, Mike Scheidt was obviously stoned on something–and the dude’s a dead ringer for Jim Gustafson of 70’s rockers Poobah nowadays–but so what? Their new album has hardly had time to sink in with me, since I only got the promo last week, but the songs sure packed a punch in the live environment, with Scheidt’s banshee wail cutting through the mix like an air-raid siren. They played twice as long as they did when I saw ’em last year in Portland, a solid 90 minutes, capping it off with an encore of molten lead. 1 am never came so soon…
If it’s any indication of the sheer sonic might of the evening’s entertainment, my hearing was truly fucked afterwards, to the point where I couldn’t hear someone speaking three feet away. I should probably start wearing earplugs–to the next concert. (Free Beer Tomorrow ‘n all…)