C’Mon at the Garrison, Toronto: Beyond The Pale Horse record release show – Gig review

July 12, 2010
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The Gig: C’Mon EP release for Beyond The Pale Horse, w/ The Mercy Now and Monster Truck
Where: The Garrison, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 10 July 2010
In One Word: Heavy

Last Saturday was the conclusion of a 10 date Canada tour for Toronto band C’Mon. It was a tour which started out at NXNE and fittingly ended in the city it began, with a CD release party at the Garrison for the band’s new record Beyond The Pale Horse. Also playing on the same bill were Toronto band The Mercy Now and Hamilton’s Monster Truck. The air was hot and heavy. Roller derby girls in ripped tees were everywhere. The stage was set for rock.

The Mercy Now were first up [a band that we almost saw back at NXNE, until a power outage cut their set short after one song.] From the look of them I was expecting a very heavy sound, but they were more hard rock than heavy metal. And definitely a lot harder than they sounded on their MySpace where they describe themselves as a rock/soul/garage band. The music was sometimes thrashy, but it was catchy. The musicians weren’t playing over-complicated stuff, there wasn’t any jazz drumming lying in wait or anything, but it was a fun mix of a bunch of different elements that kept me guessing. The first few songs had a bit of a 90’s California feel- equal parts thrash, surf, and pop. But just when I had my finger on it, they throw out a soulful hand-clapper with Robert Plant falsetto vocals so sexy that all the girls in the front row go home with wet panties. The band may not have had the shredding power of C’Mon, but the variety in sound and lead singer/bassist Russell Fernandes’ mad vocal chops make this my favourite band of the night.

On their MySpace page, Monster Truck lists their influences as “nuclear explosions, monster trucks, breasts, beer, and wild animals”. At the merch table you can buy a t-shirt for their band emblazoned with the logo “Don’t Fuck With The Truck”. They want to take you on a trip back to glory days of hard rock, and they’ve got the long hair to prove it. As I watch the boys play, I’m not sure how to feel about this band. On one hand, I love the genre of music that these guys are tapping into to get their sound. But while that electric organ is hot, the lead singer sounds like Ozzy, and Ozzy is a legend, singing excellence is not something the man is known for. On the other hand, every song sounds like something I’ve already heard- and with songs about waking up to find women in your bed you wish weren’t still there, I can’t decide if this band is more fun or obnoxious. Overall, I guess my verdict is that Wolfmother does the hard rock revival thing a lot better.

Then the headliners come on and my first thoughts are on how impressive lead singer and guitarist Ian Blurton’s ZZ Top beard really is. They start their set with noise. Sweet heavy noise that’s so loud that I’m worried that I won’t be able to hear the vocals. As it turns out, there’s nothing to be afraid of because even though they’re the heaviest band of the night- the heavily distorted vocals still sit on top of the mC'Monusic where they belong. For a band of just 3 people, they have a huge sound- bigger than the Truck or Mercy. And Katie is rock and roll personified. Long metal hair hangs down over her face as she rules that bass guitar, and when she finally sings I feel like Wayne watching Cassandra play for the first time (schwing!) There’s a good bit of back and forth that goes on in this hard rock to shake your ass to. There’s the playful musical back and forth between exes Katie and Ian, and back and forth between unbridled musical power and control. But the performance, although not without an impressive display of musical prowess, is not without flaws. The music is way way way louder than it sounds recorded, and halfway through the set I’m finding that all the songs are sounding exactly the same- which is not how the band sounds recorded at all. Is this the result of ending a harried 10 stop tour in less than a month? I guess I’ll never know, but I don’t stick around to wait and see if there’ll be an encore.

© Natascha Malta, Music Vice

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