Category Archives: 2018

The Sleepless Diatribes of a Liquor-Sick Neanderthal

By Matthew Harrison

Published April 8th, 2018 at 5:22am

Somewhere in the screaming neighbourhood of midnight:
Christ, it’s been awhile since I came on here after a few drinks. Perhaps too long since I’ve come on but just long enough since Old St. Liquor was in the equation. Just long enough to convince myself I have control of the situation. I never have anything important to say when I come on here though. When the thought strikes its first match it always seems as though I’m overflowing with profound and world changing revelations. After some guesswork at what the password and secret knock could possibly be for this damned website I typically stare at the blank screen, as if waiting for something to appear in front of me. It’s worked thus far, and I have high hopes again tonight.

The clock is somewhere past midnight while the start of tomorrow is set at 6:00am. I have the alarm set about 10 minutes prior to that so I have a few moments of extra sleep before I inevitably have to wake up and the regret has a moment to sink in. Perhaps this is what coffee was invented for though I can’t help thinking there was a more noble cause at stake than helping irresponsible line cooks hate their job slightly less than they otherwise would. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. I suspect not as I have read nothing at all.

The question of the night beckons to me again; what the hell am I on about? What great moment is being encapsulated between the meandering thoughts of a sleep deprived bastard, high on a week of living in the woods and whatever is caught under my finger nails and in the depths of my naval? Just as one would suspect; nothing. This is writing simply for the cause. Beating the drum just to feel the warmth behind the rythym, as it were.

Some music to calm the nerves. Yes, these nerves of mine could use a break. A break from the stress of sleeping through what was designated to be ‘Study Time.’ I know myself well enough to know there was a 35% chance -at best- I’d manage to adhere to the itinerary for the day. Regardless of how much of my day is rolled out before me I can count on the fact that I’ll likely say fuck the plan and take off in the direction of my nearest instinct. Some might see this among my greatest weaknesses. To me, I see a strength in the frailty of my concentration. What excitement is there in sticking to the designated plan? The answer is none. I see this life the same way I see a chocolate cake; I couldtake my time and enjoy it one square piece at a time but I would much rather eat half of it with my bare hands until my gut gives way to spastic convulsions of agony and I’ve dropped to my knees in a fit of self hatred mixed with the desire to continue gorging myself. Maybe I got lost somewhere along the way in that metaphor. Maybe it’s exactly how I meant it to be. I really can’t be sure.

Pour a little more now. It’s no easier to write but it’s easier to open the gates. The words aren’t blurred yet anyways. The last time I took a whole one of these back my memories came in bursts and day turned to night in the blink of an eye. So long as I’m not there I don’t see an error in my way. Then again you won’t know you’ve walked too far on to the ice until it cracks and you fall through before you have time to realize what you’ve gotten yourself into. That’s the thrill of it, I suppose. My own Russian Roulette except there’s a bullet in every chamber. Half of them blanks. Don’t be fooled, though. It was a blank round that killed Brandon Lee.

5:00 am
As fate would have it, you can’t pray away drunkenness. You can try but you’re more likely to fall into your shower curtain while pissing than anything. Either Christ isn’t real or he can’t heal a drunken prick at his peak. You be the judge.

Am I going to be fired today? Tune in next time for the answer!

For the first time since I was 15 there’s Marilyn Mason blaring violently from under my door. And much unlike when I was 15, I have a job to go to in the next 90 minutes. I told my boss I’d be ill but I suspect he expected something different than the drunken imp who is likely to walk into his kitchen in two hours. That sounds more like his problem than mine. My problem will be waiting for me in the form of a psychology exam awaiting me Monday morning at about 9 in the God for saken am. What God has to do with this level of debauchery is beyond me but I have to blame someone for this level of punishment, right?

Sweet Allah, my cat even left the room. He doesn’t want his name to be involved with this sort of debauchery. I can’t argue with him as he runs. What self respecting cat would want his name tied to this kind of nonsensical chaos. Oscar is his name. Look him up. He’s bound to have a healthier social media presence than my own. Then again, what in the name of Good Sweet Mike -as the great Murial Finster would put it- am I on about?

Right, it matters not. I have a job to do -drunk or not- by 7:00. Have a lovely day.

Lainhart: Senora May

By Matt Harrison

Upon hearing Senora May’s debut album, Lainhart, a few things will be made clear. For one, there’s no hunk of cheese big enough to coax her into the Rat Race. What she wants instead is a life outside the cage where she can stretch her legs and let her soul wander. Senora touches on this and more in her romantic album about life.

Not to be missed are the songs “Elusive,” “By My Lonesome,” and “Lainhart.” Written for a loved one who finds freedom only in reverie, the title track is sung like a letter from home. The bouncing tune reminds Lainhart of being “back in these hills every night in your dreams/ Shovelin’ hog shit while ya sing.” This song is meant to bring someone home, if only for the few minutes it takes to listen to.

At the midway point is “California King,” a stand out track both aesthetically and lyrically. Senora tells the story of love’s radiance fading to the ashes of nothing as cold stares turn to cold shoulders and quiet goodnights give way to the sharp click of the lights going out. As the years have passed, what was once the pain of loss has receded into a deeper understanding of what was and what is meant to be. Her pain has become hindsight understanding as she sings “I can’t even tell ya how we got this far, nor can I navigate the sea without a single star/ But I am the sun and I need no Goddamn moon.” The song ends with the same lines that began it; “There’s an ocean between us, calm as the eye of a storm/ Words won’t break it and tears won’t even cause a ripple.”

If you can’t hear the warbling of those first notes at the outset of “Only Want You,” you’ll need to add volume accordingly. This is a song that one can lean into like a drug when the other half of their heart flies across the country. Senora howls along with the wail of coyotes and together they are a tangled harmony of lovesick desertion. “The coyotes outside are singin’ my song” she says of the lonesome hillside anthem, bringing listeners to the solitude of wherever it is Senora sings her heart out from.

Senora May glows throughout this album, coming across to listeners as sweet, loving, and not to be fucked with. She embodies her own beautifully distinct and poetic fashion of interpreting life through music. Despite her past struggles she has found true happiness which flows at an unfreezable depth. She doesn’t mind being left alone, either, and she’d probably rather you left, anyways.

The Outsider Canadian Tour

By Samuel Stevens & Matt Harrison

Three Days Grace, with special guests, Nothing More and Bad Wolves

December 4th, 2018

Bell MTS Place

The entire venue went into a craze of loud cheers and screams as drummer, John Boecklin, of the Metal/Hard Rock supergroup Bad Wolves, hit the stage while the band’s intro track played over the PA inside Bell MTS Place. Shortly following Boecklin was the remaining Bad Wolves members, Tommy Vext, Doc Coyle, Kyle Konkiel, and Chris Cain. They took their places onstage and opened up the night with the number “Learn to Live.” The band went on to play other tracks like “Officer Down,” “Remember When,” and “Hear Me Now” however label mate and solo artist Diamante wasn’t with the group to perform the latter as a duet.

Bad Wolves’ rise to fame came after the release of their cover of The Cranberries’ 1994 hit song, “Zombie” in 2018. The track was released just three days after the untimely death of Dolores O’Riordan, who was set to record vocals for the band’s rendition of the 90’s classic. Back in the summer of 2018, the band donated earnings from the single, $250,000, to O’Riordan’s children. The climax of their performance in Winnipeg came with the performance of “Zombie” with the lights off inside Bell MTS Place and a request of the Winnipeg audience to raise their phone lights and/or lighters in memory of O’Riordan.

Bad Wolves - Tommy Vext
Bad Wolves. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Following Bad Wolves, Jonny Hawkins, Mark Vollelunga, Daniel Oliver, and Ben Anderson, members of the alternative rock band, Nothing More, took the Winnipeg crowd on a whirlwind of a performance. Vocalist, Jonny Hawkins, who was once the band’s drummer, began the set standing on a platform filled with drums, percussion, and what appeared to be a keyboard. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, this structure was constructed by the band and was built using scrap metal and salvaged auto parts. Weighing in at approximately 400 pounds, the platform is aptly named “The Scorpion Tail.” Rigged with various instruments, The Scorpion Tail allows Hawkins to create digital electronic sounds and effects during their performances.

Nothing More blistered through their songs, “Do You Really Want It?” “Let ’em Burn,” and “Don’t Stop.” Already giving a pretty unconventional performance, the band’s bassist, Daniel Oliver, proceeded to put his bass guitar on a weird contraption the band has dubbed the “Bassinator.” Three of the four members of the band began to surround the bass guitar and play it and eventually spin the bass around on the contraption.

Nothing More went on to play many more songs including, “Go To War,” the heart wrenching “Jenny,” and ending their fantastic set with a cover of the Skrillex song, “First of the Year (Equinox)” which had Hawkins’ “Scorpion Tail” raise 14 feet above the stage as he performed the band’s final song of the night.

Nothing More - Jonny Hawkins
Nothing More. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

It was now time for the Canadian alternative rock band Three Days Grace to rock the Winnipeg crowd. The calm, patient atmosphere changed in an instant as drummer, Neil Sanderson was the first to make it out to the stage. He immediately stood high above his drum kit, edging on the crowd to scream, cheer, and get rowdy for them to perform. Momentarily, guitarist Barry Stock was next to brace the stage and made his way to stage right. Bassist, Brad Walst followed and stood stage left, and finally vocalist/guitarist, Matt Walst made his way to centre stage.

With all of Three Days Grace now on stage, the band opened up their seventeen song set with “The Mountain,” “Home,” and “The Good Life,” which the band sped through back-to-back-to-back. The band performed plenty of fan favourite material from their now extensive six album discography such as “Pain,” “Just Like You,” “Painkiller,” “World So Cold,” “I Hate Everything About You,” and “Animal I Have Become.”

Three Days Grace, nearing the end of the set, decided to tone things down a little bit by performing a couple of songs, “Love Me or Leave Me” and “Get Out Alive” acoustically for the Winnipeg fans. Just prior to the acoustic tracks, the band performed their 2016 cover of Phantogram’s hit song, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” The band also performed an encore, which consisted of the band’s songs “Never Too Late” and “Riot,” off their 2006 album, One-X.

Three Days Grace - Brad Walst
Three Days Grace. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Pop Evil, Royal Tusk, and Plain As Ghosts

By Samuel Stevens

For the first time in two years North Muskegon, Michigan band Pop Evil made their way north of the border to embark on a tour across Canada with a stop at The Pyramid Cabaret in the heart of Winnipeg on November 23rd, 2018. On the bill to warm up the wall-to-wall Winnipeg audience was the Edmontonian rock band, Royal Tusk and Winnipeg rock band, Plain As Ghosts.

To commence the roller coaster of rock and alternative metal for the evening, up and coming Winnipeggers Plain As Ghosts rocked The Pyramid Cabaret’s stage. The band performed plenty of their 2016 self-produced debut release, Rendering. The set was not complete without the band performing some of their new material for the audience.

Since releasing their album, Rendering, Plain as Ghosts have gained momentum including a featured spot opening for Winnipeg music legend Tom Cochrane in 2017 before this most recent run with Pop Evil. I’m certain this won’t be the last you’ll hear of Plain as Ghosts, so be sure to check out their album, Rendering.

Plain As Ghosts
Plain As Ghosts. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Following Plain As Ghosts was Royal Tusk, a rock band based out of Edmonton, Canada. This marks the first time the band has been to Winnipeg since the release of their second full length album, Tusk II just two months prior. Including two former members of alt. rock band Ten Second Epic, Daniel Carriere on vocals/guitar and Sandy MacKannon on bass, their proven success together is blended along side Quinn Cyrankiewicz on guitar and Calen Stuckel on drums to create the power house that is Royal Tusk.

Royal Tusk’s ten song set list consisted primarily of new material off Tusk II. They performed such tracks as “Aftermath,” “Die Knowing,” “Freedom,” and “Stowaway,” among others. The new music didn’t stop the rowdy Winnipeg audience from immersing themselves in the music and rock out along with the band throughout their set. Although the set featured more material off Tusk II than their debut release, DealBreaker, the band made sure to sneak the latter albums singles, “Curse the Weather” and “Fever” into their performance.

Royal Tusk - Daniel Carriere
Royal Tusk. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Last but not least to brace The Pyramid’s stage was American hard rock group Pop Evil. No strangers to Canada, Pop Evil have been making their way north since as early as the first Rock on the Range Canada in June 2009, which used to be held right here in Winnipeg at the now demolished Canad Inns Stadium. The last time Pop Evil was in Winnipeg was during their headlining performance at Winnipeg’s yearly ten day summer festival, the Red River Exhibition in June 2016 supporting their album, Up. Two years earlier in October 2014, the band went on tour supporting their release, Onyx, opening up for both Godsmack and Seether inside what is now called Bell MTS Place.

Performing a mammoth nineteen song set, the band opened up strong with their single, “Ways to Get High”, followed by “Colors Bleed” and “Ex Machina.” Pop Evil were sure to play songs from their entire five album catalogue of material from, Lipstick on the Mirror, all the way to this years self-titled release. The band also performed a cover of Collective Souls’ 1993 hit “Shine” and a snippet of Survivor’s 1982 gem, “Eye of the Tiger” after the band performed their own song “Last Man Standing.”

The band’s main set consisted of fifteen songs, including some fan favorites like “Hero,” “Boss’s Daughter,” “Footsteps,” and “Deal With The Devil.” Pop Evil’s encore started with vocalist Leigh Kakaty leading the Winnipeg crowd in a sing-along of “Silent Night.” Following the full room sing-along, the rest of the band rejoined Kakaty in performing three of the band’s most popular songs, “100 in a 55,” “Waking Lions,” and ending the night right with the song “Trenches.”

Pop Evil - Leigh Kakaty
Pop Evil. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Ria Mae, RALPH, and Neon Dreams

By Samuel Stevens

On the evening of November 20th, 2018, Nova Scotia’s own Ria Mae brought her Canada crossing Never Coming Down Tour through the prairies with a stop at The Garrick in Winnipeg. Along on tour was RALPH with a special appearance by fellow Maritime musicians, Neon Dreams.

The first act to emerge onstage was Toronto Synth-Pop artist, RALPH. RALPH brought everything she could to the stage and delivered a remarkable set to her Winnipeg fans. Despite the freezing cold outside, RALPH warmed it up inside The Garrick as she had fans dancing along and screaming the lyrics back at her from in front of the stage. RALPH’s influences of Prince, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac all bled through as she performed “Girl Next Door,” “Cold to the Touch,” “Tables Have Turned,” “Cereal,” among others.

Ralph. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Following RALPH’s marvellous performance was the main attraction, singer-songwriter, Ria Mae. This marked Ria Mae’s first time back to Winnipeg since the Scott vs. Ria Canadian Tour at The Pyramid Cabaret in fall of 2017.

Ria first performed five or so songs before welcoming Neon Dreams to the stage to perform three songs. Ria went on to perform from her entire discography including “Ooh Love,” “Red Light,” “Thoughts on Fire,” and “Clothes Off.” Her set featured a few new numbers among the fan favorites including the recently released acoustic track “It’s You” and the -at the time- never released song, “Not at Peace.”

Ria Mae shared a few stories of her previous visits to Winnipeg on stage between songs. One story was about a multitude of Boston Pizza visits while another was about how she first met her bandmate, Chris Wong, while he was in the opening act at the Red River Exhibition in June 2016. She went on to jokingly say “she stole him for her own.” Ria Mae ended the set by inviting Neon Dreams member, Frank Kadillac, back to the stage to perform the song the two have together, “Hold Me.”

Ria Mae
Ria Mae & Band. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Neon Dreams members Frank Kadillac and Adrian Morris made their way to The Garrick stage for a three special song performance that night. Neon Dreams opened up their set with their new song “High School Dropout” -the music video for which will be released January 4th, 2019. The duo ended their special set with “Times Square.”

Ria later made clear she had invited Neon Dreams out on tour to finally get across the country as the bands were set to embark on two separate tours throughout the year. Neon Dreams were last in Winnipeg for Indigenous Day 2017 at The Forks Stage, which was also the bands debut performance here in the city. Hopefully the band sees a more positive time of getting out across Canada in the future.

Neon Dreams
Neon Dreams. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.