Show Review - CATCHER @ Gus' w/ Armada Drive & Overnight Enemy


@ Gus' Pub - November 21st 2010
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Review by Isaac Thompson


It’s safe to say that every musician and music fan out there is more than a little familiar with the segregation that takes place in music scenes. Scenes are as much a clique (or collection of cliques) as they are a creative outlet. Things like what your band dresses like and how cool your influences are seem to matter just as much, maybe more, as how good your music sounds. Sometimes it seems that people are more concerned with what the person next to them thinks than how the music makes them feel. What this all boils down to is that age-old battle between the underground and the mainstream. You all know the battle, it’s been going on as long as there has been an underground, and maybe it’s necessary for the underground to survive and assert itself but like anything else it gets taken too far and becomes an excuse for people to become intellectually lazy. It creates an environment where mediocre bands are embraced for fitting the mold of the unconventional and exceptional mainstream sounding bands who would fit in perfectly on the radio have a hard time finding an audience.

In my mind, the only difference between the uber-indie music fans that dismiss popular artists and pop fans that dismiss anything that isn’t currently on the top 40 is an irritating and misplaced smugness. Sure, a lot of mainstream music is terrible, but this kind of attitude can turn art communities into elite country clubs where you’re only allowed to join if you are deemed the ‘right kind’. Art should be inclusive and artists should remember why they make art.



The reason I bring this up is because Sunday Night’s Catcher/Armada Drive/Overnight Enemy show at Gus’ Pub got me thinking about the topic. All three bands for better or worse have a high potential for mainstream appeal but are far more underground than your typical skinny pants wearing local musicians who are influenced by bands you’ve never heard of. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but that’s the way it is. Bands influenced by grunge and 90s rock like the aforementioned three are the underdogs of the scene. They bear the stigma of sounding like sell-outs before they had the chance to actually sell out. I had all these things in mind when I checked this show out. Is mainstream hard rock dead? Does it have anything to offer or should I just burn my Soundgarden albums and learn to enjoy synth heavy math-rock? (btw, that was a joke, I like your math-rock band just fine)

Armada Drive is a good example of why I feel this anti-mainstream rock attitude is unjust. They sound like mainstream rock, no doubt about it, but they sound like good mainstream rock and that’s what really matters. Their sound references 90s bands galore (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Big Wreck, Stone Temple pilots, etc) with anthem-atic choruses, chunky guitar riffs, sledgehammer bass and earth shattering drumming but also possesses a more contemporary heaviness and willingness to play with classic song structures.

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 01

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 02

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 07

Armada Drive put on a set of rockers that refused to let up. They are great players with an affable stage presence and they rocked the hell out of the small crowd. With a huge guitar sound and vocals that are that rare perfect mix of polish and edge, Armada Drive should be on constant rotation on hard rock stations all over the country. Like what they do or not, they are great at it (especially for a band who’s first show was a year ago to the day of the Sunday gig). They nail the sound they are going for and I for one like this band a lot.

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 04

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 05

Armada Drive - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 06

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Catcher, the headlining band all the way from St John’s Newfoundland were a great follow-up, like the rest of the evening’s line-up their sound mixed a lot of grunge/post grunge with contemporary rock. Taking the stage as a three piece, (as opposed to the one man studio project it began as) Catcher boasted some of the most awesome belted, growly vocals this side of 1994. The songwriting was full of radio ready hooks and slamming guitar. The only time Catcher started to lose me was during their slow sensitive songs. I’m a big fan of a lot of “grunge” style bands and I find very often the ballads can sound derivative and flat out boring. I usually prefer the rockers and I found this was very much the case with Catcher. The ballads went on a little long and often reminded me of benign radio stuff like Lifehouse or Theory of a Deadman. The rockin’ numbers were awesome though and I enjoyed most of the set.

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 08

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 12

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 11

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 05

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 03

Catcher - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 01

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The final band of the night, Overnight Enemy, didn’t have the problem of boring ballads. They really didn’t have any ballads to speak of, which suited me just fine. Overnight Enemy are a band who are at their best when they are their most chaotic and raw. I saw and reviewed the band a while back and was a little on the fence about them; I wrote that I though the band was tight as hell and their singer’s pitch was damn near perfect, but they lacked much edge for such a heavy rock band. I have to say that they won me over with Sunday’s performance.

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 02

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 08

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 13

The band played a breakneck set of blistering rockers and their energy is off the hook. I am especially fond of Andy MacLean’s guitar sound. He has a buzz saw attack with just the right amount of technicality and groove - and his guitar riffs are amazing. My favourite aspect of every one of their songs is the guitar riffs. The riffs are highly awesome; they are ear catching and overflowing with badass energy.

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 014

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 12

That’s not to say that the rest of the band is chopped liver though. The drums are dead on precise, the bass is heavy on the groove and the vocalist can really sing. Sometimes my earlier complaints of lack of edge crept up (the vocalist Matt Melvin sings so technically well that his voice can sound almost too nice next to Maclean’s monster guitar work) but for the most part these guys proved me wrong. I enjoyed their set a lot. It was full of energy, never boring and thoroughly rocking.

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 11

Overnight Enemy - Nov 21st 2010 - Gus - 09

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It was a great night, especially for a Sunday, and speaking as a child of the 90s, it really made me wish there was more of a scene in town for grunge inspired rock and roll. There really could be a scene here for this kind of stuff and I respect Armada Drive and Overnight Enemy for trying to lay some of the groundwork. If these bands play their cards right they could usher in a new micro-scene of grunge (or whatever you wanna call it) bands in town, and that would be really cool. I’m sure there’s plenty of room in the country club.

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see ALL the photos from this show HERE
and all the videos on our YouTube Channel

TNaugler

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