Each and every KiLLeR DWaRfS concert is a revered experience, having seen them in small clubs to large festival stages, but Saturday, September 19, 2015, promised to be an electric, extra special event! The evening’s concert by the Canadian heavy metal champs The KiLLeR DWaRfS was set to include a one song performance featuring the original 1983 KiLLeR DWaRfS lineup! This would mark the first time in over 30 years that vocalist Russ DWaRf and “Pirate” drummer Darrell DWaRf would be joined on stage by original bassist Ange DWaRf and original guitarist Bryce DWaRf! Something nearly off the charts for a long time DWaRfS fans, such as Canadian Decibel Geeks Wallygator and The Meister!
I was never able to see the DWaRfS back in the day, being too young to get into clubs like Nags Head North and Rock & Roll Heaven at the time, but I had all the vinyl. My first DWaRf experience would come with drummer Darrell Millar‘s post-DWaRf band Automan.ca which I saw several times and would even love to see again. Automan.ca Concert Review. It was at an Automan show that I met and started to become friends with Darrell “Dunk/Pirate” Millar. At one of those shows, he eluded to me that there may possibly be in the near future some sort of DWaRf reformation, as at the time they were on hiatus. The DWaRfS did indeed reform with Darrell and Russ being joined by longtime member Gerry DWaRf (guitar) and newcomer Johnny (bassist from Automan), released the “lost” album, Start @ One and have been spreading the word ever since in a big way making a huge statement. And it’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride of thrills from there that I hope carries on for years to come!
The event got under way as Aliens Ashore was the first band on stage with a rather eclectic, almost comical look! Basically all being assorted ages ranging from what looked like teens to mid/late 50’s and all different heights, but their sound said it all in a good way as my foot started tapping and I quickly caught their groove before the end of the first song. Wallygator and I inched closer to the stage front during the set of original material that also housed a wicked cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s classic “Mr. Crowley” off the Blizzard of Ozz record. Proudly proclaiming that they hailed from “all the way downtown at Sherbourne and Front streets” (which, for those outside of the area, is not much more than about 19KM from the club), they thanked the Rockpile audience. It was around now that I noticed the Quiet Riot Metal Health character tattooed high up on the vocalists shoulder. That beats the appearance of the Quiet Riot logo on my own arm in both size and coolness factor (provided you’re a Quiet Riot fan I suppose). Definitely a band I’ll be watching out for in the future….wonder if they have an album? Aliens Ashore Website / Aliens Ashore Facebook / Aliens Ashore Twitter
The Blackness were the next act on stage tonight on this bill of four bands including the headlining DWaRfS. Knowing drummer Steve Scott from a previous band of his, I had been hearing some buzz about The Blackness who “have been tearing it up since getting together”. In my initial searchings, I came across a youtube video of The Blackness’ opening set again for The KiLLeR DWaRfS back in June at a bar in Oshawa (about 45 minutes drive from downtown Toronto). Unfortunately, a planned interview with the whole band became a casualty of the early evening’s events and it did not take place, but will in the future. Initially hearing a massive Black Sabbath influence in that video, I was surprised how much more I heard in the actual live setting. The power trio certainly had things together as Steve Scott bashed his way through the set with a thunder and vigor as guitarist/vocalist Maxel “The Blackness” Black expertly led the charge and thumping basslines resonated through the mix held down by John Leverdingen. The set comprised of all original material flew by altogether too quickly and I look forward to the release of their forthcoming recording. Check out my video below from the show The Blackness for their song “No Tomorrow”. The Blackness Facebook / The Blackness ReverbNation
Gene Scarpelli and his band Gene Pool were the direct support to KiLLeR DWaRfS tonight. Gene Scarpelli is the son of Gino Scarpelli guitarist of Canadian rock legend Greg Goddovitz‘s Goddo. According to their Facebook page, “”Gene Pool”: A brand new idea, wrought from a seed that had been planted more than 20 years ago. Three High School mates, and two long-time mutual friends from Toronto round out this lineup with a sound that sits on the verge, being both melodic and edgy, and rounded out with an unmistakably bluesy guitar sound.” They ripped through an extremely enjoyable set showcasing Scarpelli‘s talents. I had intended to acquire their CD after the set, but unfortunately, I failed in this refusing to vacate my stage front position and completely forgetting after the headliner. It’s a bit rare that I thoroughly enjoy all the bands in a four band event, but tonight’s lineup couldn’t have been better all around! Every one of the of the stage setting bands delivered a different individual performance that fired on all cylinders. What a great night for live music and the best is yet to come! Gene Pool Facebook
After introductions from the impromptu comedy duo of local radio personality Joe Cahil and former editor of the now-defunct M.E.A.T. Magazine and local rock/metal personality Drew Masters, Decibel Geek’s own Kate Campbell briefly took the mic to welcome our friends The KiLLeR DWaRfS! The DWaRfS took the stage at around 11PM or so to a nearly jam packed hometown crowd at The Rockpile, had to be a near capacity crowd. I think that the KiLLeR DWaRfS may actually have more fun on stage than the folks in the audience at their shows! “Comin’ Through” led the charge and I don’t think that the band has ever sounded so tight, so smooth, so great! I know that The Rockpile’s house soundman Jake Disman has a knack for getting the band’s perfect sound down, so I’m sure it’s due in part to him and also the already excellent night created a high that could only be expanded upon. A string of DWaRf hits and classics followed including “Hard Luck Town”, “Last Laugh”, “Driftin’ Back”, “Union of Pride”, “Doesn’t Matter” and “Nothin’ for Nothin'”. As any DWaRf show, tonight was peppered with jokes and good humour including frontman Russ‘ quips at a website reporting him to be over a hundred years old (looks pretty good for his age!) and how since reforming they “have been out there spreading the word that Canada has the best beer and smokes in the world”. As well as the expected headstands, Graham also spent a more-than-usual amount of time on the crowd, yes on! Having a penchant for doing some crowd surfing during DWaRf performances, tonight he escalated and was leaving the stage, right over my head most times, it seemed like every other song! With my voice long ago blown out from screaming/singing, I love a DWaRfS show, I didn’t have much left when the original DWaRfS took the stage next for “Heavy Mental Breakdown”. Everything you need to know about that song’s performance can be seen in the video I took, including a spot close to the end as Russ surfed over me, adjusting my camera position. Sorry about the crotch shot my friend! With the current DWaRfS back on stage “Stand Tall (Stick to Your Guns)” and “Keep the Spirit Alive” brought us home, completing this rather short, but friggin’ awesome setlist. Of course, that wasn’t the end though as the boys returned to finalise the total rock ‘n’ roll ass kicking with “Dirty Weapons”. For a guy like me (single and childless), I sometimes get afraid if asked if I’d like to hold a friend’s child, those of you that understand that will know the exact feeling I had as guitarist Gerry DWaRf Finn knelt down in front of me during this encore song. He handed me his guitar pick and motioned me to strum the strings! A little timid and terrified to break anything (I’m clearly not a musician either…lol), I gingerly plucked the strings a couple times and gave a sweeping strum across them all as well! All six DWaRfS were on hand after the set for photos and autographs. The DWaRfS make a point to be accessible to each and every single fan who wants to meet them after a show, no matter how long that takes! Very cool boys.
I personally want to thank Johnny, Gerry, Darrell and Russ. The music then, the music now, you guys are a big part of who I am, cheers to another 30+ years! See you at the First Annual Rock Against Hunger KiLLeR DWaRfS golfing tourney on the 24th!
DWaRfS PHOTOS: Wallygator Norton