Swedish Punk at the Class: Concert Review by Eric Letourneau

Hello, fellow punks and music lovers, Justin here. Apparently I missed a fantastic show last weekend while I was away for work. This is going to be a thing that happens every now and then with this new job of mine. Therefore, my long-time friend Eric Letourneau will be writing reviews for the shows I can’t attend! Eric also happens to be a great writer and talented musician. We’ve played in a few punk, metal, emo, and hardcore bands together back in the day. We’re also currently working on putting together a punk project! You can often catch Eric playing at The Working Class on Wednesday nights, Open Mic Night. He is usually accompanied by our great friend, Dave Lamoureux, as their acoustic project named, The Lover and the Bird. Eric also plays bass in a new local punk act called, Rough Outlook. So be sure to catch him whenever you can, he’s a real ear-pleaser! 

As I’ve mentioned above, Eric is a great writer. I love his style and his eloquence, and I’m very excited to have him as part of this segment on my website. I hope you enjoy his piece, and without further adieu, Eric’s review:

 

As I stepped through the backdoor of the Working Class, carrying a massive Ampeg bass cab, a hundred thoughts loomed in the back of my mind: I wonder how many people will show up tonight… How will the bands be? Will they be cool people? I really hope they’re cool people. Next we unloaded the guitar amp heads and merch bins. Focus on playing well and you’ll have a great time, I told myself. Then, “So long as it’s been forgotten,I mentally rehearsed lyrics from our opening song. We set up our gear while various members of Bigger than All and The Headlines lounged around and played pool. They look pretty coolTwo steaming Don’s pizzas come through the front door: holy fuck I’m hungryThen we did the soundcheck, and I thought for the hundredth time that day, I wonder how the turnout will be tonight

Little did I know, I was about to see, and participate in, one of the best punk rock shows I’ve ever been to. That’s right folks, Saturday night was one for the books. While the lineup featured two (possibly even three) bands that I am convinced were not well known in the Timmins area, the two visiting groups were fantastic in every way. I made sure to ask my fellow band mates from Rough Outlook what they thought of the show. Not one of the members, including myself, thought it anything less than stellar

The show kicked off at about 10:30pm when we jumped on stage to perform seven songs, six of which were covers. I had a really great time rocking out on the bass guitar and belting harmonies with the rest of Rough Outlook (Krys Saudino – lead vocals, Chris Pilon – rhythm guitar, Tyler Brazeau – lead guitar and Matt Stewart – drums). I feel we laid down a nice opening set that served well as a nice transition to the first visiting band, Bigger than All.

Bigger than All is a four piece punk rock band hailing from Montréal, Québec. It features Bigger (Danny) on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, Daniel on lead guitar, Alex on bass guitar and backup vocals and Jr. on drums. While their music is fast and punchy, it retains some instrumental complexity with Daniel adding various leads and Alex shredding great bass lines over Bigger’s fast power chords. The vocals, however, are what set this band apart from others in the same genre. Bigger has a voice that reminds me of both Fat Mike’s of NOFX and Chris Demakes’ of Less than Jake. It has just the right amount of grit to carry a melody without being too agressive. The bassist and drummer help out when they can by adding crowd vocals and the typical punk-rock whah-ohs to the mix. The sound was very balanced, and their performance was tight and on point, despite the set up being a little awkward. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties with the stage, which caused the lead guitarist, Daniel, to have to play between the two other members. Seeing as though he is the only member of the band that doesn’t sing, it made the stage dynamic a little weird. Even still, the bassist drove the energy of the band way up by running from one side of the stage to the other, still managing to masterfully pluck his bass. Bigger was also very entertaining, sometimes looking around in complete confusion and making funny facial expressions before exploding into the next part. Though it took a little while for the crowd to warm up to Bigger than All, the band’s energy level shot up when they finally did. With a strong finish, they paved the way for the headliner of their current ‘Desbouleaux Tour’, The Headlines.

Coming all the way from Malmö, Sweden, The Headlines have been active since 2006 and have played over 500 shows in many countries worldwide. The band, composed of Kerry Bomb – Lead Vocals, Jake – Lead Guitar, Peter – Rhythm Guitar, Cim Dhalle – Bass Guitar and Peter II – Drums, have gained a fan base in Germany, and is known to travel abroad often to play for welcoming crowds the world over. These guys absolutely obliterated the stage Saturday night. You want to know what they sound like? To quote tour organizer Michaël Lagacé, “The Headlines live is like taking a shovel to the face but with a lot of love” and I couldn’t agree more. The Headlines are nothing but pure punk rock, straight from the early 90’s. Their sound invokes the likes of Rancid and the Ramones. The music is catchy and simple, yet edgy and raw. The first thing I noticed was how great they looked as a unit. Kerry, Jake and Cim dressed in traditional punk rock threads. The front woman sported a spike-studded jean jacket covered in patches to match her pink hair. Plaid shirts, tight pants, tattoos and high topped shoes completed the look.

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The performance was insane. Kerry Bomb, who, in the past, played bass guitar and left most of the singing to lead guitarist Jake, is an amazing front woman with a seemingly unsurmountable amount of energy. Her voice is extremely versatile, at times soft and soothing and then gritty and agressive in the next breath. She exudes confidence but remains very genuine as she runs, jumps, dances and bangs her head to the music. The music is complete with a good mix of fast beats and downtime, as well as some nice buildups that culminate in some of the most catchy choruses I’ve heard. If you don’t know the lyrics, you’ll know at least the chorus by the end of the song, and you’ll catch yourself singing along. Lead guitarist Jake does quite a bit of vocals as well. His voice, often paired with Kerry’s, is edgy and sits very well in the mix. He also swoops in every so often with a guitar solo reminiscent of old school rock and roll which he does very well. The bassist, Cim Dahlle, is simply electric. She is very energetic and also belts out some great backup vocals, be it harmony or chanting along with the rest of the band. She played on her knees with her bass up in the air, she played behind her head, she jumped off the drum riser, and she did it all while playing perfectly, and with style and swagger. The band was greeted by a great crowd, however small, who succeeded in bringing the band back for not one, but two encores. The first one was one of my favourite punk rock covers of all time: 99 Red Balloons. The best part? Kerry sang the song in German, the language in which the original song was written by artist Nena in 1983. After 99 luftballons, they played an original called Wake Up. The crowd chanted “Wake up! Whah-oh, whah-oh”, with the band until they ended the show with a final crash!

Not only do I not have any negative comments or criticism to offer this band, but I cannot say enough positive things about them to do them justice. Although it is unlikely that they come back to Timmins (mostly due to the massive ocean that separates our home country from theirs), I highly recommend you go give this band a listen. Beware however, that even on the most recent album, Vendetta, Kerry does not sing lead vocals throughout as she was still the bassist of the band at the time of recording.

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Luckily, I had the chance to talk with a few of the members from Bigger than All after the show, and it turns out that they’re a really great bunch of dudes. I also had the chance to congratulate The Headlines who seemed very pleased with the outcome of the show in such a small venue in a small town. Simply put, whoever wasn’t there, missed out.

I hope you enjoyed the review. I’ll be writing more of these in the future, whenever Justin is unable to make it out to a show. And remember, the next time you tell yourself there is nothing to do in Timmins, head out to The Working Class and let Krys and Johnny show you how to have a good time. This is our scene. Without us, it doesn’t exist.

Stay sexy, Timmins,

Ric

 

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