• Concert review of Ice Nine Kills, Earthworks, Trentia and Southpaw at Club Saw in Ottawa

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

    Last Tuesday, I went to see American metalcore quartet Ice Nine Kills in concert at Club Saw in downtown Ottawa. The band from Boston, Massachusetts has just released a great, brand-new record entitled ''Every Trick in the Book''. Each of the ten songs is inspired by a different novel. Some of my favourite novels such as George Orwell's dystopian fable ''Animal Farm'', Bram Stoker's classic horror novel ''Dracula'' and even William Shakespeare's epic tragedy ''Romeo and Juliet'' are referenced on said album. I was introduced to this band by one of my students (Thank you! You know who you are.) and decided to discover more of this intriguing group that celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. When I heard that the band was playing in Ottawa, it was a great occasion for me to attend my first concert of the year. There are many more to come: I'm going to see Nightwish and Black Sabbath in February and Iron Maiden and Dream Theater in April. All these concerts will take place in Montreal and I will attend the latter three with one of my best friends. Sadly, most bands still ignore the Canadian capital and I have to travel to Toronto or Montreal to see live shows.

    The concert took place in a location I had never heard of before. Club Saw is a small part of a gallery with regular art exhibitions, conferences and craft courses. The club itself is rather tiny and offers barely enough space for about one hundred people. When I arrived there, far over one hundred people were already there and the location was packed. The ticket cost me fifteen dollars even though a lower price had previously been announced on the internet. In my opinion, the location wasn't very well equipped. There was neither a coat check nor a bar. When I asked the ticket seller where I could have a sip of water, they recommended me to go to the washroom. Between the shows of the opening acts, I decided to go to the next supermarket and buy some ice tea instead.

    In the end, I would estimate that more or less one hundred fifty people attended the show which is quite a lot for a Tuesday night in Ottawa. The last time I attended a show on a weekday in Ottawa last autumn, only about fifty people attended the same concert as I did. To my surprise, the majority of the audience was a lot younger than me. I'm not exactly feeling old but I would say that the average age was around twenty. Since nobody checked the identity documents of the concertgoers, I guess there were even a couple of people who could have been of the age of my students. Since no alcool was sold in the building, I guess that no identity cards were required to get to the show. This was actually the first time I experienced such a relaxed procedure since security guards at public events in Ottawa are usually rather strict. Another surprise was that half of the audience consisted of girls and women. When I usually attend rock concerts, at least three-quarters of the audience consist of men which wasn't the case here. The crowd was quite peaceful and polite. There were only a few small circle pits consisting of the same half a dozen men and the fans in the first two or three rows were actually singing along to the songs of the bands.

    Sadly, the opening bands were quite disappointing in my opinion. They were called Southpaw, Trentia and Earthworks. All these bands are from Ottawa and rather young and unknown acts. One could clearly hear that they weren't too experienced since their sound was mostly poor and their performances quite chaotic. All three bands were missing catchy guitar riffs, ferocious breakdowns, intriguing lyrics, memorable vocal performances and vivid rhythm sections. Some parts of the crowd seemed to appreciate these bands more than I did. I was wondering why until I saw that some of the fans of the opening acts left before Ice Nine Kills even entered the stage. I guess that these guys were mostly schoomates, friends or family members of these local support acts. On a more positive note, I must admit that all three bands had some entertaining qualities. The interactions between the bands and the crowd were quite dynamic.

    It was about half past nine when Ice Nine Kills finally hit the stage and brought the entire series of performances that night on a whole new level. From the very first notes on after a short instrumental overture, the band conquered the crowd by storm. Especially singer Spencer Charnas was impressive to watch. He constantly ran across the stage, interacted with the audience, gave handshakes, did some crowd surfing thanks to some helping hands among the audience and climbed on different pipes below colourful fairy lights in the small location. The band opened the show with the catchy and energizing ''Communion of the Cursed'' which was a perfect choice to kick things off efficiently. Over the course of the next sixty minutes, the band played about twelve songs. Five tracks were chosen from each of the two latest records ''Every Trick in the Book'' and ''The Predator Becomes the Prey''. I particularly liked the aformentioned powerful rendition of ''Communion of the Cursed'', the catchy performance of ''The Nature of the Beast'', the calmer tune ''What I Never Learned in Study Hall'' as well as the more relaxed parts of ''Me, Myself & Hyde'' and the great encore ''The Coffin is Moving'' which ended the concert on a strong note. The only negative aspect I might mention is the short length of the show which only lasted for about one hour. It was also a little bit strange to watch the singer who had a lot of problems with his semi-long haircut that seemed to disturb him during some parts of his performance.

    After the show, the four band members took their time to take pictures with their fans, talk to the audience and sign different items. The four men were really down to earth and I had the occasion to talk to them for a while. We talked about the concept of their last record and how it might get younger generations into reading classics. When I told them about the student who had introduced me to their music, they told me that he should come see them next time. I bought the band's two latest records as well as a band shirt. My collection of albums and band fashion keeps growing.

    In the end, I spent a great night in Ottawa and Nine Ice Kills' solid performance made me forget the rather disappointing opening acts. Since the concert finished rather soon, I was even able to get home around half past eleven and to get seven hours of sleep. If the band comes back to town with a new record, I will probably go see them again.

    Ice Nine Kills with Sebastian Kluth

    « Ashes of Time / 東邪西毒 (1994) - Solitary soul(s) on a quest for redemption - 7/10 (15/01/16)The Hateful Eight (2015) - All of Quentin Tarantino's trademarks united in one movie - 8/10 (20/01/16) »
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