Last night, Cellos made its live debut on a Windsor stage. It was their first performance as a band and despite a few stage jitters, they pulled it off magnificently.
Despite it being their live debut, the members of Cellos are far from being novices. In fact, the trio may be three of the best representations of their respective instruments in the city. Guitarist (and vocalist) Kyle Marchand is better known as the driving chunk behind Orphan Choir as well as the experimental soundscape engineer in What Seas, What Shores (he also had a short stint in the melodically golden Yellow Wood). Bassist Joe Rabie’s thundering grooves have build the skeleton for many projects, including the prog rock dirge of Surdaster, the instrumental frantics of Red Rows and the experimental blind field trips of Star Trek: The Band. And the sheer muppetry genius of David Allan on drums has all been evident to anyone who has seen the octopus-on-cocaine tentacles fly in other projects like Explode When They Bloom, Poughboy and Which Witch. It only makes sense that these three play together – they’ve been in such diverse projects individually, that it would take a project of this nature for each of them to truly shine and show what they are ultimately capable of pulling off.
Their set last night – opening the highly anticipated return of KEN mode to Windsor – was brief but succinct. The second song, tentatively titled “Notes from Underground”, was a clincher – when the power riff groove locked in, the crowd was hooked. For a band playing their debut, they had a crowd in their hands, attentive and hungry, eyes agape and ears thirsting. Their set was like a rock opera conveying how an underwater minefield going off must sound to the fishes around it – as heart racingly exciting as it is terrifying.
Marchand’s voice is reminiscent of Gibby Haynes via early Butthole Surfers records (a la Locust Abortion Technician) with a tinge of Bleach-era Nirvana (the band actually closed their set with a Nirvana cover, “I Hate Myself and I Want To Die”). If I was to play Pitchfork and mash analogies, I’d say it was like Gibby Haynes singing in a band with Paul D’Amour (Tool) on bass, a pre-Badmotorfinger Kim Thayill (Soundgarden) on guitar and Keith Moon on drums, with a set arranged by Mr. Bungle or Mars Volta, but even that isn’t entirely accurate. In fact, if I was a psychologist, I’d say they sound like the soundtrack for the exact moment when the voices in someone’s head suddenly instructs them to kill for the first time. It’s a rush of anticipation, anxiety, excitement and lunacy all at once.
But perhaps the real majesty of witnessing Cellos’ debut performance last night was something another witness said to me: “It’s so exciting to see a band’s first performance. I mean, I’ve seen them play in other bands before, but them together, is something new. Seeing something brand new is just so exciting.” These guys have done this before. In different bands, a hundred if not a thousand times before. But seeing them play something new and something fresh for the first time, is something magical. The material is fresh in the audiences ears, not tainted by the memories of shows past by, not blurred by the fact that they’re there to “watch a friend’s band play”, they were there to experience something new by musicians they’d grown to trust.
And judging by the response, Cellos has a bright future ahead of them.
You can catch Cellos next performance opening the show at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) when Calgary’s This City Defects comes to town on Monday April 11th (Red Rows is also opening).
As if Friday wasn’t a stacked line-up already, what with Michou‘s long awaited homecoming happening at Phog and the metal majesty of London’s Battlesoul hitting the Coach, The FM Lounge is putting on their own stacked line-up featuring four solid established local acts.
Built around the premise of a “Birthday Rager” (several members of the bands share birthdays over the past few days), these four bands have united to throw each other one big birthday bash and in the mean time, put on one hell of a rock and roll show for anyone who cares to join the debauchery that will undoubtedly occur with the Old Fish Market’s walls.
Red Rows is an instrumental three piece who had a lot of momentum last year (culminating in a slot at last year’s Phog Phest) but who have been quiet of late – not so much because they’ve slowed down any, but the members’ other projects (Surdaster and Alex Carruthers & The Rhythm Brothers) have been picking up steam of their own. It’ll be nice to be reminded again of what the buzz from 2010 was about.
Surdaster has come a long way in the past two years. A line-up re-shuffling has re-energized these guys into one of the scene’s new warriors, a 7-headed hydra of prog rock meets stoner metal that will take you on epic journeys of musical side streets or straight up rock your face with a power chord chunker (such as their raucous live favourite “Mad Dog”). They’ve really learned to work (and work with) the crowd this past year and their live draw is evidence of that. They’re coming off a strong opening set for Elliott Brood at The Capitol Theatre last weekend, so they’ve done their rock and roll stretches.
Explode When They Bloom are like the ninjas of the local scene. You don’t hear about them for weeks or months, no sightings, and then BAM – a rock and roll shuriken hits you in the back of your skull. Due to various work commitments, the members of EWTB aren’t seen that often outside of their own gigs. So sometimes people tend to forget about them until they see their name on a showbill or stumble into one of their shows. But the reaction is always the same. Blown away. Ferocious live, their rock and roll vibe is something heavier than the mainstream alt. rock, and smarter too. These guys are players, no doubt about it – they’re talent is apparent early on into any set. Still playing in support of last year’s stellar release, The Ugly, it’s always a pleasure when EWTB are out and about.
Tyburn Tree, the closers for the festivities, are one of the metal scene’s most underrated denizens. A few years back they released a sludge metal album, Parliament of Trees, that should have garnered them more attention (they appear on this month’s FREE Music Sampler). They’ve combined solid songwriting with tight performance to create a sound that is both reminiscent of some of the genres heavyweights while still retaining a soul of its own. They’ve always gotten on great bills and always seem to be considered great additions to shows, but sometimes it seems like people haven’t given them the credit they should. Which is simply that Tyburn Tree may be one of the most dedicated and talented metal bands in Windsor at the moment. Look for 2011 to be a strong year for these guys – and they deserve it.
Tyburn Tree, Explode When They Bloom, Surdaster and Red Rows, The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, beside Pogo’s), Friday February 4th, Doors at 9pm, 19+, $5 at the door
The matinee show is headlined by StereoGoesStellar, an indie pop band from Windsor who has been playing to great reception across Ontario the past year in support of their debut CD, featuring the single (and subsequent video) of “88 Keys”. These guys have been on a mission the past few years and have done incredibly well out of town, as well as being one of the city’s top draws locally.
The matinee show starts at 2pm, with tickets $12 in advance + HST ($13.56 total), and available at Jam Space, Dr. Disc Records, Phog Lounge or The Manchester Pub. Opening up the matinee show are Silent Movie Type, The Viktoria Crowns and Raising The Stakes.
The evening show, starting at 8pm, is headlined by Elliott Brood, the multiple Juno nominated roots band from Toronto, Ontario. Despite their Toronto hometown status, Elliott Brood’s founding members Casey Laforet and Mark Sasso are both from Windsor, and they carry much of their Windsor roots with them (their Juno nominated CD “Ambassador” is named after the bridge).
Tickets for the Elliott Brood show are $15 + HST ($16.95 total) and are available at the same locations. Opening the show are the bombastic prog/stoner rock of Surdaster and the rootsy storytelling of James O-L & The Villains (in their last show for some time, as head honcho James O-L departs on a sabbatical to Nicaragua).
A couple of great shows (and the last two before the City of Windsor takes ownership of the Theatre) showcasing some established Windsor talents and some up and comers as well!