Who: The Great Sabatini w/ Teethmarks, Gunt and John Smith
Where: The Boat, Toronto
(A special thanks to Anthony Abbatangelo for pics, click to enlarge)
Now if there’s a local show that displays a cavalcade of Canadian acts from around the Ontario/Quebec regions, this is it. With John Smith and Teethmarks representing Toronto, Gunt there for Ajax and The Great Sabatini hailing from Montreal, this smorgasbord of hardcore and metal will leave any heavy hoser frothing.
First up we had hardcore punkers, John Smith. Playing very visceral, dissonant – yet still slightly melodic- hardcore punk that hints at schizophrenic, calculated mathcore, John Smith definitely manages to come off differently than most hardcore punk bands. While Chavin’s vocals are strained and harsh, the guitars and rhythm section come off as having a far slower pace than that of a regular hardcore band. It’s almost as if the band had more of a post-hardcore influence in regard to rhythm (mostly lacking in blasts and d-beats, or any sort of violent drumming really). The band also manages to fuse some Dillinger Escape Plan-esque, schizophrenic math rhythms into the set too, without upsetting the structured elements of their music. Although I won’t lie, my analyzation of their sound had to come after the set, as other then the drums and Chavin, a lot of the melody work got buried in mediocre sound. All in all the energy the band had was great, and Chavin’s ability to totally be comfortable performing in the crowd reminded me why underground shows are so much fun. 7/10
Next, Ajax’s Gunt managed to get down and dirty pretty quick. Starting each show with sound clips from the likes of Ren & Stimpy, Dumb and Dumber and Step Brothers (amongst others), the mixture of humour and traditional hardcore punk went together amazingly. With a style influenced by lovely, lovely D-beat and traditional hardcore punk, Gunt come off as both fun and bloody chaotic. While vocalist Barr was also keen to perform in the crowd like John Smith, he pushed it a bit further by attempting to incite moshes (bumping me into Teethmarks gear in the process), pushing and shoving amongst the rest of the crowd. So while the general air of their music is more old school and fun, there was definitely that “in your face”, DIY aggression that marvellously harkened to legends like Discharge and Black Flag, making Gunt one of one of the better executed hardcore bands I’ve seen. 7.5/10
Now before I get into Teethmarks set, I want to tell you a little story. So after Gunt’s set, Anthony, Kartigan (show photographer and concert-poster artist here on AOM respectively) and I decided to go outside for a smoke. Anyone familiar with The Boat will know that right beside it is a sweet alley that doesn’t look sketchy but is a great place to chill between sets. So as the three of us are chilling there, we see a bald guy with a long beard and plenty of tattoos scouring the floor of this alley. We ask him if we could help him and he explains that he lost a bearing for some random object (On first glance I assumed it was a weed grinder, but it turned out to be a Yo-yo). We share our smoke with him, as the gravity of the floor certainly lead down to a sewer and we felt bad the dude had lost such a small, but vital part. We look around briefly (eventually more and more people attempted to help out) but to no avail. We then decide to go back to the venue while he searched for this barring. Remember this for later.
With Teethmarks setting up during this little event, we entered the venue just as the stoner/hardcore punks got on stage. Now there’s definitely something interesting about Teethmarks. The band doesn’t have a bassist (instead opting for a second, much more rhythm orientated guitarist), their drummer smashes the drums like he’s having sex and their vocalist is always covered in sweat. But more interesting then that is their ability to jump from d-beat hardcore punk to almost stoner metal infused hardcore, with catchy licks, heavy grooves and adrenaline-inducing hardcore riffs encompassing a majority of their music. While the in-crowd performances ended with Gunt (the audience had become way too big for such), vocalist Graham still did his best to reach into a hungry, hungry audience. Leaving the crowd in a flurry, Teethmarks definitely did an amazing job getting everyone ready for the barrage of head banging that was about to come. 8/10
After wiping the sweat from our brow, we watched as Teethmarks disassembled and The Great Sabatini came together. And guess who I-Lost-My-Yoyo-Barring guy is? Mr. Rob Fucking Sabatini, guitarist and mostly lead vocalist of the band. You have no idea how stupid I felt, because they had sent me a promo for their latest outing, Matterhorn, when I was writing for Uysfaber, and upon looking them up on Metal-Archives, the circus like name and interesting fashion definitely had their physical image branded into my head (except for Rob somehow, FML). Anyway, their set up was amazing. Multiple amps, proper lighting (I’m sure Abb’s dick wiggled when the red filter that plagued the other three bands was finally replaced with lamps) and small, ghetto TV’s displaying dark, psychedelic imagery. As soon as the pummelling riffing of The Great Sabatini’s progressive brand of monolithic sludge began, the entire venue turned into a whirlwind of head banging. When it came to the guitars, their sound was incredibly tight. The slower, doomy passages that crushed you on the albums sink you even deeper into the floor live, and as the heavy riffs hold you down, the erratic, odd drumming beats you mercilessly. And if there’s one thing I can note about The Great Sabatini, it’s that while they’re well within the realm of proggy, doomy, sludge metal, they could easily match any death metal band in terms of heaviness, technicality and speed(slow or fast). So as such it was no surprise to see the exhaustion in the crowds faces. As the TVs imagery ran concurrent with the mood of Sabatini’s riffs, the bands sentinel gaze into the crowd gave the whole show a very supernatural vibe. But I won’t lie; I was bummed at how terribly the band’s vocals were set up. I think the only time I ever heard any vocals was when the guitars were either calm or silent, so Rob, Sean and Joey (Guitar/vocals, Guitar/vocals and Bass/vocals) could have played an instrumental set for all we knew. Their set was only 45 minutes long as well, which was a total cock-tease, especially since I was hoping they’d play Sad Parade of Yesterdays (but they avoided playing any songs with a chilled vibe). But alas, it was still a pumping, brutal, killer show and I definitely look forward to catching The Great Sabatini once again! Look out sludge world, you’re going to need to come up with some amazingly quality stuff to keep up with The Great Sabatini. 9/10