I just found that Billy Talent will be playing my hometown of London Ontario this Friday! BT will be playing a few blocks from my apartment at Call The Office, a venue that has hosted Danko Jones more times than any other single venue (19!).
I found out this little bit of info this weekend from a guy named Vince who plays drums for a band called Blue Skies At War. Vince is an amazing drummer and is an equally talented website designer. Check out his incredible work in both fields here:
Last Wednesday I went to Call The Office to try and buy Billy Talent tickets for Fridays show. Imagine my dismay when I was told the show was completely sold out. But luckily we got a call in the eleventh hour from Vincent - the drummer for the opening band blue.skies.at.war - he got us on the guestlist!
Billy Talent caught my attention last summer with their single Try Honesty. Not long after, I started to hear about what a great live band they were. I can now say that that reputation is well earned.
From the opener How It Goes to the closer Voices Of Violence (which he "dedicated" to George Bush), the set was a blistering, high-octane punk-rock affair.
The crowd was very young (underagers were marked with a big black X on the back of their hand) and very energetic as BT tore through every song on their debut album as well as a well-chosen Fugazi cover. "If you've never heard a Fugazi record, that's okay" said lead singer Ben Kowalewicz "but do yourself a favour and get one as soon as you can."
Ben Kowalewicz rocks the fu*k out. When he really starts belting it out, his voice starts to screech (something that normally annoys me, but for some reason not when he does it), his eyes bug out, and he shakes with intensity. You get an idea of it in the Try Honesty video, but only an idea. Live he is something to behold.
When he introduced the song Lies as being about the Canadian music industry, I couldn't help but think of Home To Hell and The Cross. Here were two of Canada's best rock bands echoing very similar sentiments. I smiled when Kowalewicz finished one song and said "Thank you everybody for coming out on this cold night and showing that there's more to Canadian rock n roll than Nickleback and Default." The crowd, of course, erupted.
Try Honest whipped the crowd into a frenzy. The song loses none of it's power live, if anything it has even greater impact.
Guitarist Ian D'Sa is probably BT's secret weapon. Not only a great guitarist, his harmonic background vocals are all over almost every song, and go a long way towards giving the band it's pop sound - but without crossing over into that 'bubble-gum punk' area that I dislike so much. D'Sa is the one with the big hair in the video.
Opening for Billy Talent were blue.skies.at.war and a band called Death From Above. Death From Above was a real discovery - one to watch out for. They're only a two piece, with the drummer also singing lead vocals and the other dude playing bass. Yep, that's right. Bass. No guitar. Danko Jones has said that he plays lead like it's a bass, well this guy plays his bass like it's a lead. It's kind of difficult to describe their sound, suffice it to say they are an amazing, loud, fast, rocking band. (And they score bonus points for their funny shot at Theory Of A Deadman.)
Overall, the night that almost wasn't was a great, rocking time. The Canadian rock scene may be miles behind it's Scandanavian counterpart, but last night went a long way toward restoring hope.