Friday night at the Commodore Ballroom was a powder keg of passionate performances. The annual Fox Seeds was in full swing with the three finalists; Beyond the Fall, Stars of Boulevard and Black Hat Villain. Headlining the event was the always powerful Arkells, doing a superb job. The night was explosive, and the audience was an integral part in the chaotic momentum.
Starting the night was Beyond the Fall, who’s set was firing on all cylinders. The key part in this band is the lead singer, he owned the stage. As a whole they are always leaping around, and delivering, but the lead singer is the charismatic hook. He stormed the stage with real ownership and prowess. The drummer was having fun, pounding with a grin from ear to ear. Their sound is somewhat basic, a post-punk teen angst with a pop twist. As a whole the set was rhythmic and fun, but lacked anything amazing. The band has lots of room to grow.
[singlepic id=1298 w=320 h=240 float=right]Next up was Stars of Boulevard, with a truly venomous display. The singer was channeling and early Axle Rose, including red bandanna and slithering body movements. Behind the drums, was an animal, rapping his arms with ferocity and intensity. The rest of the band, fit in with a sort of Motley resurrection, but with a more innocent feeling. This collection has, like the prior, a killer front man. The only difference being he owned that entire room. Every one in the building was captivated by his theatrical movements and over the top posing; still they weren’t musically original. The ensemble as a whole rocked the hell out of the Commodore though. It was still a little rough, but the glinting of that diamond shone through still.
Final performers to the platform were Black Hat Villain, from Vancouver Island. The vocalist of this band, came out in a white suit, a towering, lanky man with a big bushy beard. Unlike the first to leads, he brought more power to the stage. This crew had the most sincerity and organic rock blood. Each member owned his position, working hard but really pouring themselves into every note. Out of each of the three finalists, it was this one that had something truly amazing. Every song felt original, and again unlike the first two outfits, not like a rip-off of some other group. The explosive presentation rocked the audience, and had the building swaying. By far this was the best group.
The final verdict was about to be announced. Danger from the Fox was on stage and readied himself to deliver the news. After a brief explanation of what would be won, and thanking the sponsors, it was time to present which of these three contenders would walk away the big cheese. To the dismay of many in the crowd, it turned out to be Stars of Boulevard. Not that they didnt deserve it, but Black Hat Villain was even more astounding. It seems the decision was made on the more pop geared band, rather then the more talented band. Stars of Boulevard would probably sell more records in the beginning, but Black Hat Villain seemed like they would have staying power; a long career.
Now it was time for the headliners to rock the house and deliver some excitement. Hamilton natives the Arkells took to the stage in usual fashion; with an eruption. Max, the singer, was on fire, leaving scorch marks every where he stepped. Mike, on guitar, wailed hard, and poured his very soul into every individual note. Dan, on keyboards, was passionate and free spirited. Especially when he broke in with the harmonica, always a treat. Tim and Nick, brought the rhythm and they brought it with gusto. The moment the amp spat out that first wave of sound, the audience was alive, and the five piece on stage were electric. It was one of the best shows I have seen from the Arkells. [singlepic id=1340 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Moving up from the various smaller venues, it was inspiring to see them headline at the Commodore Ballroom. This Fox Seeds was a great night out. Not a face in site was showing any disappointment. It was all grins, high fives and real comradery. Despite the unjust outcome, all the bands had fun and in the end that’s all that matters. If you get a chance to see any of these bands, take it, they deserve your support. Get out there and enjoy the local scene. And if the Arkells dawn a poster in your area, break out the cash and grab some tickets. It will be one of the single best shows you will see.
All photos by Jamie Taylor
Before the Fall
Stars of Boulevard
Black Hat Villain