Cancer Bats at The Working Class – Concert Review

Last Sunday (December 13, 2015), The Working Class, also known as my new favourite place in the world, hosted a damn good show: Cancer Bats from Toronto, also featuring Lord Dying from Portland, Oregon, and local hardcore heroes, The Payoff. The sold out show took place between 9pm and just past midnight. Despite it being Sunday, the venue was filled to capacity, and the energy was destructive (both figuratively and literally)!

Cancer Bats 1
Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats killing it.

The Payoff is a Timmins local five-member beatdown hardcore act. It consists of Joel Dumas (Vocals), Joey Polowy (Lead Guitar), Bee Rad (Rhythm Guitar), Craig-Ryan Larocque (Bass Guitar), and Krys Saudino (Drums). They’re set was short and sweet, and hard and aggressive. They served as the perfect opening act as they warmed up the crowd for the chaos to come. I loved Joel’s energy. He always does a great job at engaging the crowd; making hand gestures to emphasize the lyrics he sings, and making eye contact with individuals in the crowd, which altogether enables us to feel his energy. He’s everything I want to see in a frontman. The instrumentation was also on point. The guitar tones were heavy and the bass was not subdued in the mix; it was prominent and accentuated the “beatdowness” of their sound. I could clearly hear the contrasting frequencies (highs, mids, and lows) in the spectrum. Finally, the drums were nice and tight. I really love Krys’s drum tone; I could feel the kick drum deep in my chest, and the snare is punchy, clear, and groovy. I really could not expect any more or any less from The Payoff. They played a new track, (the title of which I didn’t catch) and it was also great. My question is, when are they going to come out with some recorded material?!

Check out The Payoff’s Facebook page here!

Lord Dying is a four-piece band, but I’m assuming their bassist could not make the trip up north as he was missing from the stage. The band is composed of Erik Olson on guitar and lead vocals, Don Capuano on bass, Nickolis Parks on drums, and Chris Evans on guitar as well.[i] Their lack of a bassist did not prevent me from enjoying their set, however. Their sound is pulverizing, doomy, sludgy, and just all around heavy. They don’t even need a bassist, (and this is coming from a bassist)! They really remind me of bands like High On Fire, Mastodon, Electric Wizard, etc. The vocals are very much in the mid-to-high range, and Olson does a great job at conveying anger and fury. The drummer is really tight and impressive to watch. Another element I liked about their set was how well they looked on the stage: The two guitarist were playing (what seemed like) the same guitar model (LTD Eclipse Deluxe EC-1000), one with a pearl-white finish, and another with a flamed maple top, and a see-through black finish. I really liked the look of the contrasting guitars. Behind them were 2 Marshall half stacks (a JCM 900 and a JCM800), one on each side of the drums. The bass drum also had an incredible looking design. The band looked professional all around. And speaking of professional, during their first song, the power was cut out to their entire left channel, yet they kept playing as though nothing had happened. The problem was short-lived as Ritchie Caron (the sound technician) and Krys Saudino jumped to the rescue and solved the issue. They gave us a great performance, and I’m glad they came all the way up here to play for us.

Lord Dying 3
Check out their music video for “Poisoned Altars”!

Finally, we get to the meat of the article; the headlining set, Cancer Bats. The band is made of Liam Cormier (Vocals), Scott Middleton (Guitar), Mike Peters (Drums), and Jaye R. Schwarzer (Bass). They killed it, ladies and gentlemen. The crowd ate them up and loved every moment of it. Cancer Bats are a doom flavoured southern metal band. Their sound is very reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Pantera, and has a modern edge to it that makes it unique in my opinion. Their music is heavy, sludgy, gritty, and very groovy, (I don’t think I stopped dancing throughout their entire set). Their performance began with some low droning guitar chords and Cormier inviting the crowd to approach the stage. As soon as we did, the band exploded with “True Zero” from their new record, “Searching For Zero”, which I highly recommend!

Cancer Bats - Searching For Zero
Click here for a taste!

Throughout their set, the band played some of my favourites from their previous record, like “R.A.T.S.”, “Road Sick”, and “Bricks and Mortar”, which is one of my favourite tracks in their entire catalogue. It’s deadly, heavy and catchy as all hell! “Grief like a halo around my neck… MY SALVATION! BRICKS AND MORTAR!!!” They also played a few of their older classics like “Pneumonia Hawk” and “Hail Destroyer”. The band maintained their energy throughout the entire set; they head-banged wildly, jumped about, and beat their instruments into a pulp. Cormier is a great frontman. He maintained his vocal abilities for every song he sang, and proved to be an all-around awesome dude. He gave shout-outs to the opening acts, as well as to the guys who own and run the venue (Johnny Cayen and Krys Saudino). He gave us Timminites respect and praise for our great bourgeoning music scene. He was also very funny at times. I had the opportunity to shoot the shit with him after the show at their merchandise table, and he’s just a rad dude altogether. I was really impressed. The band concluded their set with a banger, “Satellites”. The crowd chanted for more, but we didn’t get more. However, that was okay with me, because “Satellites” was a perfect song to close with.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with every performance of that night. I had a great time, and I could see on the faces of everyone else there that I wasn’t alone in how I felt about the night. It was definitely one of the best shows I’ve personally been to in my hometown, and one for the books altogether!

Thanks so much for reading. I apologize for the delay. I really wanted to have this published last week, but I got caught up. I’ll certainly do my best to avoid such delays in the future.

Thanks again!


[i] Taken from their Facebook page

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