Review written by Sharon Wong
I had the pleasure of crossing the border for the second time this month to experience music. The first time was warp tour (music i am very familiar with), but this time around i was going in with no expectations or knowledge of what i was soon about to experience-heavy metal.
After a 2-3 hour travel to the venue, we reached the other side of niagara falls. The location of the venue was a tad intimidating to say the lease..however, the venue itself was on a whole other level!
I would like to take a minute and applaud the Rapids Theatre : Clean, competent hard working staff and security, beautiful and accessible layout, a sitting area that was wheel chair accessible, amazing viewing angles of the stage as well as screens and monitors throughout the entire venue. Yet the biggest shocker was how well ventilated the venue was and how the temperature never got to sweat inducing! Kudos to this amazing venue. Toronto could learn a thing or two.
Onto the bands!
As the diverse age crowd (young and old) were settling in, the first band went on. KYNG , a 3 piece band hailing from Los Angeles, started the night with a loud high pitch scream and bang! Thud! Thud! Thud! With heavy emphasis on the drums and bass, KYNG set up the mood for the night-ENERGY. Tonight featured heavy metal reminiscent of the 80s- luscious long hair and head banging included. Many of KYNG’s songs had marching rhythmic and it was also interesting how the drums sounded traditional heavy metal yet had a flair of jazz mixed in. The drummer ( the only one missing hair) had a very impressive solo for how small his kit was. At one point, i thought he was about to play take 5 (a jazz song) but brought it back to rock. He had a lot of skills! After his solo, KYNG played a few more songs now more reminiscent of punk rock like (greenday). For a while I thought they were going to play a cover of ‘hitchin’ a ride’ by Green day! I enjoyed the latter half of the set as they had songs more in tune with modern aesthetics, whereas the first half was more traditional. KYNG is a very talented band and the first time I’ve heard of a 3 piece heavy metal group! I am use to seeing that formula in punk, not heavy metal! I have always been impressed by smaller bands that can have such a full sound comparable to the usual 5 piece!
As the lights went up, I noticed the crowd had gotten more cramped and much bigger than before. More young people had flooded near the soon to be mosh pit area. From the atmospheres, I knew beers and other alcoholic beverages were about to be spilt… winter is coming, in the form of Avatar.
2 stage hands rolled in a a curtain tubed, it resembled a circus tent.
The light went out, pitch darkness as each letter of the bands name started to illuminate. With each letter, the crowd roared.
AVATAR, hailing from Göteborg commanded the stage! Wow! Can this band perform and put on a show! As the french circus intro music played, the curtain fell revealing the singer who looked like a scary pierrot clown who would fancy licking ice-cream (cause he had a long tongue).
Each member dawned French Revolutionary uniform and moved like wind up toys. It was creepy. While still sounding like heavy metal group, AVATAR had more of a 2000s sound, mixed with circus themes. I enjoyed AVATARS music as it was more familiar to me than classical heavy metal. They had very nice crunchy guitar contrasting melodic arpeggios, accompanied by clean drums that meshed well with the singers voice; overall the sound sold the circus spectacle. ”Welcome to the freak show!” Of the night, AVATAR’s singer won best stage presence for me. I was just so amused throughout the entire set. Their head banging was very in-sync (not to be confused with nysnc) during the droning guitar breakdowns, which made you feel like you were on a wash cycle; my only thought was, how does their hair not tangle as it span in a perfect circle , over and over again.
So far the concert has been very balanced in terms of metal flavours- KYNG was drum and bass oriented, while AVATAR was less focused on the drum and bass sound and was more focused on vocal and duo guitars. The 2 guitarist had several solos which were very melodic and contrasted well to the crunchy head twirling choruses. I liked avatar alot! And this is one cases where the live sounds 1000times better the the recording.
After avatars amazing performance the theatre was even more packed-now like sardines in a well ventilated can. People were starting to get really rowdy..the floor was a slippery beery mess and the mosh pit started to grow exponentially!
The lights started flashing and the next band entered the stage. The theatre was bathed in a sea of red. the bass drum began booming beat. Thud! Thud! Thud!
And everyone screams- HELLYEAH!
The crowd was going crazy, it was comparable to one direction fans!
The singer now in a single pool of light, spews blood into the crowd and covers half his face in blood. Chanting of “HELLYEAH!” continued.
Hellyeah’s was more similar to KYNG as they sounded very 80s heavy metal-chugging guitars, bass, and massive double pedal thuding that would make your heart skip several beats; The floor was rumbling! This was truly the epitome of head banging music..and the crowd was eating it up. They were going wild. During parts of their sets, the singer had heart to heart talks and encouraging words to unite the crowd. He commented on how rock was like therapy, no matter age, gender, etc we are all here for the music. “Would you rather be taking therapy sessions or be at a rock show?!?!”. I never knew rock was all about love! As HELLYEAH played on, they had a lot of energy, and again, everyone head-banging with their lucious hair.
It’s nice to see heavy metal artist are getting enough b12 in their diets!
So many of their songs where so headband worthy, no wonder heavy metal songs can be up to 30 minutes! Hellyeah were great performers!
As the night ended, it was a great experience and was well worth travelling across the border to one of the best venues I’ve ever been to as well as experience a genre I was not well versed in! I never knew it was so diverse. Although heavy metal is not one of my favourite genres, I have a new appreciation for it and understand the appeal. One thing is for sure though, heavy metal artist no matter their age can perform your socks off!