Local shows are always a blast to go to, partially because the bands aren’t part of a long, draining tour so they are fresh rather than road weary, partially because they have a passion for the city and give it their all, and partially because they always have cheap ticket prices. On this night of All Hallows Eve, there were no tricks, just a treat of pure unfiltered Vancouver rock and roll.
The doors opened at 8, although I got there at 8:20 due to transit inefficiency and the fact that my pirate outfit was entertaining a couple of small children. After being greeted by the bassist/lead vocalist and two guitarists for The Stone Travelers, and buying a beer for myself, I settled in at the front to watch The Stone Travelers, who were the band I was most familiar with. The crowd was sparse (only three of us on the floor at first) but that didn’t deter the Surrey-based rock and roll quartet at all. They delivered some fierce 60′s and 70′s styled jams, which included a smouldering cover of The Allman Brothers classic “Whipping Post”, and a straight-faced rendition of “Danger! High Voltage!” by the Electric Six. Bassist/lead vocalist Patrick Warwick was on fine form, screaming and rasping like a man possessed. Guitarists Colin Kuehn and Sean Gilmour were more subdued, preferring to focus on playing rather than performing, but they still both managed to exert a stage presence. After performing their last song, the excellent “Black Mamba”, the band was called back up for an encore, which is always a surprise for any local band. The Travelers played an excellent cover of Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen” for the encore (at the end of which Patrick Warwick tripped and fell over backwards in a rather amusing display) and then made way for the next band.
I was not very familiar with the next band Samerez, but they were a solid four-piece, playing heavier rock, more riff-based than The Stone Travelers. Their best song of the night was the groove-filled, face-pummeling swagger of “Gravity”. They might benefit from a singer who is not held down by an instrument, as the stage presence was a little off. They clearly have potential though, and I hope to see more from them in the near future.
Finally, it was time for the headliners, Sonic Outcast. Despite releasing their debut full-length, they already had new material, which they debuted for this show. Their sound could only be described as a hybrid of rock/grunge, a more modern sound, and huge AC/DC-esque lead guitars. Heavy riffs and scorching leads courtesy of guitarists Jordan Della Vera and Michael Abalakov, and a powerful stage presence from frontman Jonny Della Vera are the foundations of this five piece, which is rounded out by bassist Kurtis Stangl and drummer Eliot Doyle. The title track from their new album, “Reason To Be”, and the new song, “Push”, were the highlights of their show. The band really got the room going, even getting a few balloons batted back and forth among the audience members. Their closing number brought the house down, and certainly would have converted any in the venue who were still skeptical about this band.
After Sonic Outcast was finished I hung out with The Stone Travelers for a bit, they’re all awesome guys, and then stumbled my way home. All-in-all, it was a great night for local rock and roll. All three bands ruled, and although the night outside was a typical rainy Vancouver night, nothing dampened this show. It was Halloween to remember.
The Stone Travelers playing “Get You Back” at the Roxy November 2011
Sonic Outcast “Reason To Be” from the album of the same name
Sonic Outcast’s debut album can be streamed in full at their website