Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good, & Ellevator

By Samuel Stevens

It’s no surprise that Winnipeg is a big city of Rock fans and would pack into the Burton Cummings Theatre for the first night of two back-to-back sold out shows on the current Our Lady Peace, Matthew Good, and Ellevator 20 date tour across Canada. Our Lady Peace are currently touring to promote their ninth studio album, “Somethingness” and Matthew Good is promoting his twelfth album, “Something Like a Storm”.

Nabi Sue Bersche - Ellevator
Ellevator. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

The Hamilton, Ontario Indie/Alt. Rock band, Ellevator opened the night with a pretty stellar thirty minute performance for the Winnipeg audience. I was unfamiliar with this band going in to the show, but I recognized their song, “St. Cecilia” immediately as they began playing it. I still can’t place where I’ve heard the song prior, but it’s a great tune everyone should check out if they get the chance to do so. Ellevator have an upcoming self titled EP to be released on April 20th. There are big things coming for Ellevator, so make sure to watch out for them in the near future.

Matthew Good
Matthew Good. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Next to the Burton Cummings Theatre stage needs no introduction. Matthew Good was welcomed with an extremely loud warm welcome from the Winnipeg audience immediately as the lights went low. This created a massive energy in the room you could feel. A feeling that will give you goosebumps that instantly you knew it was going to be a great show from here on out. With how long Matthew Good has been on the Canadian Rock scene, which has been since the mid 1990’s with the Matthew Good Band, before disbanding following a falling out and going solo in the early 2000’s. It was no surprise a majority of, if not all of the crowd knew a tune or two from the Canadian Rock legend. Good has also performed in this theatre countless times over his career, which he referenced on stage during his performance. Good performed an hour-long set featuring songs new and old. Including in no particular order, “Bad Guys Win”, “Apparitions”, “Decades”, and “Load Me Up” to name just a few. Lastly, the light design for Matthew Good on this tour is insane, but beautifully done to match each song packing a hell of an extra punch to the show. I’m sure it won’t be very long before Matthew Good returns to Winnipeg and brace the Burton Cummings Theatre once again.

Jason Pierce - Our Lady Peace
Our Lady Peace. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Headlining the show was the one and only, Our Lady Peace from Toronto, Ontario. Going on a big 26th year as a band, they do not fail to own the stage and deliver a hell of a performance. Our Lady Peace show no signs of winding down, just releasing their ninth studio album, “Somethingness”. This was the first Our Lady Peace headline show in Winnipeg in six years, which vocalist Raine Maida apologized for a few songs into the band’s set, but the last time Our Lady Peace were in Winnipeg was just seven months ago opening for Guns N’ Roses at Investors Group Field on their Canadian tour last August. Which was reviewed here.

Also like Matthew Good, Our Lady Peace performed a primary nostalgic set making sure to cover their extensive catalog performing such songs as “Angels/Losing/Sleep”, “Innocent”, “One Man Army”, “Clumsy”, “4am” and performed “In Repair” and “Somewhere Out There” acoustically. The band performed a few new songs as well, including their single, “Drop Me in the Water”. The band’s encore of three songs was fun, the band started with the song, “Ballad of a Poet” off their album, “Somethingness”. Which is about when vocalist Raine Maida first saw The Tragically Hip live in Toronto and set his path to become a musician. Following was when the band really had fun, by performing a cover of the Matthew Good Band’s “Hello Time Bomb” performed with Matthew Good and his entire band. As soon as the song hit, the audience went into the most wild of cheer. That same feeling from Matthew Good’s set returned, leaving me with goosebumps. Our Lady Peace proceeded to end the night with their popular song, “Starseed”. I predict Our Lady Peace will be back to Winnipeg soon enough, hopefully this time not with a six-year wait.

J-Hope – Hope World Mixtape

By Chelsea Stevens

Rating: 8 out of 10

Released on March 2nd, 2018 by Big Hit Entertainment.

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The member, J-Hope of the South Korean K-Pop Boy Band, BTS (which stands for “Bangtan Sonyeondan”, which translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts”) has put out his first solo project. After years in the making, he finally found the perfect time to share his unique sound with the world.

The first song on the mixtape, which is the title track, “Hope World” starts out with J-Hope letting you in on why he chose his stage name. His name was chosen as he wanted to bring a hopeful existence to BTS. The beat on “Hope World” makes you want to get up and dance.

“P.O.P. (Piece of Peace) pt.1” – The name alone has fans excited because “part 1” means a very high possibility of a second mixtape. Again, in this rap he talks about his stage name and confesses he just wants to be the reason for somebody’s happiness. The vibe of this song will for sure have you bobbing your head along.

While listening to “Daydream (백일몽)”, you may come to realize that a story is being told (if you speak/read Korean, if not there’s plenty of websites and Twitter fan accounts that translate). He tells his truth of how he has become who he is today, through dance, music, his band mates, friends, fans and family. How all of his dreams are coming true and how he wants to remain humble through it all and not take any of it for granted. He wants to be in the moment and enjoy every second of his life while also being an escape for others as well.

“Base Line” and “항상 (HANGSANG)” are two of the songs off the “Hope World” mixtape that the BTS fandom argue on which is truly the best. I personally prefer “Base Line”, but both are good in their own kind of way. Both songs are definitely club sounding tunes that you could get lit and dance to, but they both still have quality lyrical content.

The only spotlighted feature on “Hope World” is with Supreme Boi on “항상 (HANGSANG)”, these two men have worked together plenty before on music so who better to work with than someone you are very familiar with on your first solo musical release. There is also a faint feature from the rest of BTS in the song “Airplane”. It’s very subtle, but it’s very effective.

“Airplane” beautifully wraps up the story being told on the mixtape, recalling his first time doing things he dreamt as a child he never thought would even happen. Hope doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon, personally and with his group.

Lastly on “Hope World”, the song “Blue Side (Outro)” is a slow and calming song only leaving you wanting more.

Overall, this record-breaking release doesn’t have any songs you’ll want to skip, while adding it to your playlist(s). You can tell a lot of work and effort was put into this project by J-Hope, from the details of the cover art to every song sounding different from the last. It really feels like you are apart of “Hope World” while listening.

Check out more from J-Hope and BTS:

http://bts.ibighit.com/

https://twitter.com/bts_bighit

https://www.facebook.com/bangtan.official/

https://soundcloud.com/bangtan

Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, & Havok

By Samuel Stevens

Another frosty Winnipeg night did not keep the Winnipeg Metal community at home on the evening of February 23rd to pack in the Burton Cummings Theatre to see the Metal greats Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, and Havok perform live. Anthrax and Killswitch Engage are currently on The Killthrax Tour II touring both of their 2016 released albums, “For All Kings” and “Incarnate”.

Havok - Reece Scruggs
Havok. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

The Denver, Colorado Thrash Metal band, Havok opened up the show to a well received warm welcome from the crowd. Havok is currently on the road promoting their 2017 released album, “Conformicide”. The band performed some songs such as “Hang ‘Em High”, “From the Cradle to the Grave”, “No Amnesty”, and “Intention to Deceive”. I enjoyed that both vocalist/guitarist David Sanchez and guitarist/backing vocalist Reece Scruggs were different from many others acts I’ve seen perform and were comedic throughout the set to the crowd between songs. I hope to see Havok back to Winnipeg soon, as well as everyone else, as the crowd cheered in agreement with vocalist David Sanchez if everyone in the venue would make it out to Havok the next time they come to the city.

The next act to the stage of the Burton Cummings Theatre was Killswitch Engage, hailing out of Westfield, Massachusetts. Surprisingly, how often the band has been to Winnipeg on past tours, this was my first time seeing them perform live. The band sure know how to work an audience with both how they interact with the crowd and what music from their catalog to perform to connect with the audience. Killswitch Engage began the set strong with the songs, “Rose of Sharyn” and “Strength of the Mind”. The band performed a set full of songs that touched a majority of their discography with some old material, new material, and lastly you can’t forget the fan favorites. Some other songs Killswitch Engage performed include “My Curse”, “Hate by Design”, “My Last Serenade”, and “In Due Time”. The biggest take away from the bands set was during the song “The End of Heartache”, I noticed that guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz disappeared from the stage. I was curious to where he went off to. I was watching Killswitch Engage’s set from the back left of the venue in the first seat of the aisle and during the end of the mentioned song, out of nowhere, Adam comes up to me to my left and casually asks, “Are you enjoying the show?” Of course I was so I respond back with, “Hell yeah I am!” He repeated this to a few other random people on that side of the venue until he made his way back to the stage door. Lastly, to close off their set the band performed their popular cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” which the band was joined on stage by Anthrax vocalist, Joey Belladonna during the performance of the song.

Anthrax - Frank Bello
Anthrax. Photos by Samuel Stevens Photography.

It’s not a surprise most of the people in the venue came to see the next band perform, this band is no other than Anthrax, who hail out of New York City, New York. The band is part of a group of bands dubbed “The Big Four” next to Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer for pioneering and popularizing the genre of Thrash Metal. Anthrax performed a powerful and high-octane set of tunes from their vast catalog of music. Opening the show with “Among the Living”, straight into, for what many is a fan favorite, “Caught in a Mosh”. Which was inevitable when the audience chose to let loose in the mosh pit. This was followed by a cover of Joe Jackson’s song “Got the Time”. The Anthrax fans in the venue were belting out all the lyrics out during the performance, but most specially during “Madhouse”, “I Am the Law”, “Antisocial”, and the set closing, “Indians”. Right before Anthrax played “Breathing Lighting”, guitarist and vocalist, Scott Ian dedicated the song to Winnipeg’s own Chris Jericho. For those who don’t know, Chris Jericho is a professional wrestler and he’s also the vocalist of the Heavy Metal band Fozzy. I honestly can’t remember which song the band were performing at the time, but it was near the end of the show, when someone in the front row through a joint on stage, which vocalist, Joey Belladonna caught, took a sniff of it, and gave a big thumbs up while thanking the fan. The night ended with the entire Winnipeg crowd singing the national anthem, “Oh, Canada” to the band, which was simply amazing. The band will be back in May to open up for Slayer at Bell MTS Place.

Each and every performance from Havok, Killswitch Engage, and Anthrax were all great in their own right. I absolutely did not want the show to end and I’m sure many others in attendance didn’t themselves. This tour has quite the well-rounded line up that should not be missed. If you have the chance to get to a show on The Killthrax Tour II, don’t hesitate to get that ticket. Quite frankly, I hope to see all three bands back to Winnipeg very soon to turn the city into a “Madhouse”.

Operation: The Spark, A Success In Winnipeg

By Samuel Stevens

Yet another night of what feels like a never-ending Canadian Winter, the frigid Winnipeg weather didn’t keep the fans of Enter Shikari, Single Mothers, and Milk Teeth to pack in The Pyramid Cabaret in downtown Winnipeg to see Operation: The Spark commence. Enter Shikari are currently touring North America with Single Mothers and Milk Teeth promoting their recently released fifth album, “The Spark”.

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Milk Teeth Vocalist/Bassist, Becky Blomfield and Drummer, Oli Holbrook. Photo by Samuel Stevens Photography.

The first band up to perform was the Punk Rock band Milk Teeth, who hail out of Stroud, England, United Kingdom. It was the bands first time to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and it seemed to go over well with the crowd inside The Pyramid Cabaret. Performing such songs as, “Owning Your Okayness”, “I Stabbed You First”, and “Brain Food”. It was blatantly clear the fans in attendance were enjoying the music being performed in front of them. Surprisingly I never heard any of this bands music before this night, they made a fan out of me and I’ve had their music on repeat since. I’m looking forward to what Milk Teeth release in the future. Hopefully coming back to town very soon.

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Single Mothers vocalist, Andrew Thomson. Photo by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Single Mothers were the second band up to hit the stage of The Pyramid Cabaret. Single Mothers are from London, Ontario, Canada. The Punk Rock band have been to Winnipeg before, most recently just back in October of 2017, the show was also at The Pyramid Cabaret. Although a clear favorite among the staff of The Pyramid Cabaret, the fans in the venue were certainly having a blast themselves during Single Mothers’ set as a mosh pit broke out among the fans in the pit approximately mid set. The band performed songs such as, “People Are Pets”, “Half-Lit”, “Hell (Is My Backup Plan)”, and “Christian Girls”, to name just a few. There’s currently a buzz around Single Mothers and after finally seeing them perform live, I now understand why. If you get a chance to see this band on this tour, or a tour in the near future, you will not be disappointed whatsoever by their music and live performance.

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Enter Shikari vocalist, Rou Reynolds. Photo by Samuel Stevens Photography.

Headlining the night was the British band Enter Shikari, who blur the lines between various genres, such as Post-Hardcore, Alternative Rock, and even Electronicore (a heavier genre of music mixed with Electronic/EDM). Enter Shikari are no stranger to Canada, having been to Winnipeg alone for I believe the fifth time now, but I’m surprised that they haven’t been able to find the same commercial success as they’ve found back home in the United Kingdom in both Canada and the United States.

Approximately ten minutes before the band made their way to the stage to start Operation: The Spark, the venue filled with sounds of aircraft, the members of the band checking in with each other over tape getting ready for deployment, and testing the sound and stage lights. This being my 200th concert overall, I found this quite the unique and elaborate intro to a concert I’ve seen over the years of going to shows. The bands most recent album “The Spark” is mostly inspired by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump and in my opinion it produced some of the bands best material to date, so it was upsetting to say the least seeing that the fans at the show weren’t connecting to the new music as much as they were to their older material on the set list. Some of my favorite songs performed during the night were, “The Spark”, “Rabble Rouser”, “Airfield”, ““Anesthetist”, “Redshift”, and “Live Outside”. Five of the six songs mentioned are off “The Spark”. Some of the older material preformed included songs such as, “Solidarity”, “Anything Can Happen In The Next Hour…”, “The Last Garrison”, and “Zzzonked”. Well, also the “quick fire” round as vocalist, Rou Reynolds put it, which also included a mash-up of four older songs performed in under eight minutes. This included, “Sorry You’re Not a Winner…”, “Sssnakepit”, “…Meltdown”, and “Antwerpen”. Operation: The Spark wouldn’t be a perfect mission if there wasn’t a hitch in the plan. During “Arguing With Thermometers”, Bassist Chris Batten’s keyboard kept turning off on him and was resolved in no time by guitarist, Rory Clewlow.

My only dislike from the entire show was how over the top the lighting was for the size of a venue like The Pyramid Cabaret. 75% of the time I was looking away from the stage as the lights were blinding. The lights certainly go with their style of music, it works with the stage performance too, and made the venue a lot more lively than it typically is. Each band’s set was different from the last and both Single Mothers and Milk Teeth made a fan of me from their high energy performances. Enter Shikari never fail to entertain and still after seeing them live three times, deliver one of the funniest shows you can attend.

…OPERATION COMPLETE…