“The metal cuts our hearts but we bleed together. It now bonds us forever and ever. I pilot this machine, it’s powered by dreams! Together we will live our destiny…Our Heavy Metal Destiny!” – Lady Beast
**Decibel Geek readers and listeners may be familiar with the name Lady Beast. Their 2015 album, rather inventively titled Lady Beast II, was reviewed here by The Meister (Lady Beast Cooks Up a Delicious NWOBHM Feast), who also caught them in concert at the M-Pre-party (unofficial pre-party for the M3 Festival – Lady Beast Destroys Sonoma’s) in 2015. They have been showcased as a featured artist on an episode of the weekly Decibel Geek podcast (Who’s That Singer – Episode #200) and the Lady Beast II album tied (with Diemonds – Never Wanna Die) for the #1 spot on Meister‘s top ten releases of 2015 (What You Should Have Been Listening to In 2015). Ever since catching that live performance at the M-Pre-party and meeting the band, Meister has been yearning for another Lady Beast live show experience, several times contemplating a lengthy (well not that lengthy seeing as his farthest would be a trip to Tokyo, Japan to see Diemonds) and costly journey to Pittsburgh. Each time the idea was kiboshed for various reasons including cash flow and that big brother we all refer to as a job, but now Lady Beast is coming to him! Thursday, May 12, Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14 will mark the first time ever that the band has ventured north into Meister‘s Canadian homeland. Below is his personal story and concert review:**
After several failed ideas to make the trip to Pittsburgh to see one of my favorite bands, Lady Beast, I was nearly beside myself receiving the message from frontwoman Deborah Levine letting me know that they were trying to self-book a mini tour that would bring them into Canada. The four-date tour (first stop in N.Y. and then three in Canada) will see the Pittsburgh-based NWOBHM styled band’s first gig as a part of Bleak Life Festival in the nation’s capital of Ottawa, Ontario. From there it’s a show in St. Catharines, Ontario and then the final stop in Toronto setting the stage for Mokomakai and Shotgun Cure (a double CD release party for both bands). Originally I had intended to be at all three Canadian dates and even toyed with the idea of N.Y. as well, but incidents at work have prevented that plan. I’m left with Ottawa and Toronto and it’s a struggle to get to those, but I know it’ll be worth it all the way!
At the beginning of my own “Heavy Metal Destiny”, I set out from my home at 6:30am on the morning of Thursday, May 12, catching a bus to the local train station, to in turn, connect to a train to Toronto, to connect to a train to Ottawa. Welcome to the evils of making the life choice of not driving. After exploring my nation’s capital on a glorious sunny day, which included a pass-by of tonight’s venue, The Dominion Tavern, I parked myself at a local pub with a nice patio for some beverages and dinner. Striking up a music conversation with another patron, one always leads to another and by the time I departed I was working on a nice beer glow. I leisurely wandered the couple of blocks over to The Dominion. As I approached I saw a tall white van labeled with a yellow “School Students” sticker above the open rear doors as a band was obviously unloading their gear. Almost before I realised what was happening Deborah Levine greeted me with a big hug as the guys that I’d previously met at M-Pre-party clapped me on the back and shook hands. What a wonderfully warm welcome from this little band from Pittsburgh that I hold in such high regard. “Don’t fanboy Meister, don’t fanboy Meister, don’t fanboy Meister“ my inside voice repeatedly screamed. After quick introductions to the band members that I’d not met before and offering to assist lugging in the equipment which was (probably wisely on their part…lol) turned down, I obtained another frosty (and quite reasonably priced) adult beverage settling in on a stool near the stage to await the show. It couldn’t have been longer than 10 minutes before I was awarded a Lady Beast beer koozie by Twiz and about two minutes after that when I was basically kidnapped and demanded to join the Lady Beast band table next to their merch. Before long “fanboy” could no longer be restrained and out came the vinyl versions as well as CD’s of both albums for autographs while I acquired new Lady Beast merch to add to my collection.
Lady Beast even hustled me out the door and down the street with them as they ventured out in search of pre-show dinner and I was simply overwhelmed to be included with them. Sometimes a shy guy, who often prefers to remain quiet until I know people, I was quickly welcomed into this group and it fell together like I’d known them all for years and years as I experienced the comfortable feeling of hanging with age old friends. We chatted and laughed, each member making me feel welcome in their own small way through gestures and words, making a point to engage and include me in such poignant and topical conversations as blockbuster (lol) classic movies like Hobo with a Shotgun, the state of today’s musical landscape and a subculture of steroid-driven “Lady Beast” females that has emerged among other subjects. Some conversations were a real eye-opener and I learned a lot about the life of a homegrown band on the DIY tour circuit.
Back at the Tavern for more drinks, the string of punk bands were already underway. Before long it was time for the last band of the night, the headliner you might say, Lady Beast. I positioned myself near the front of the low-lying stage (which was difficult for capturing any decent videos) as they ripped quickly into their namesake song, “Lady Beast” from the self-titled debut. The quartet behind slight-framed vocalist Deborah Levine is comprised of bassist Greg Colaizzi, drummer Adam Ramage, and guitarists Christopher “Twiz” Tritschler and Andy Ramage and everyone was absolutely on point tonight. There was a notable change in the Lady Beast dynamic on stage since the last time I’d seen them just over a year ago that I clicked into very quickly. I loved them at M-Pre-party, but tonight was something different, in the best way possible. Perhaps it was that at M-Pre-party drummer Adam was rather ill (and had retired to the van directly after the set hence my not meeting him prior to tonight), perhaps it was that bassist Greg had been absent as he was having a baby (well his wife was), perhaps it was due to “new” guitarist, Adam‘s brother Andy (who had been the fill-in bassist for Greg at M-Preparty) has stepped well into his role and this stable, solidified full lineup has developed an easy chemistry. I think the biggest change was in Deborah. At M-Pre-party, she appeared kind of apprehensive, almost nervous before taking the stage, but tonight she literally exuded and oozed a cool confidence, her unboundable energy captivating the punk crowd right from the get go. Almost more of a medium for the lyrics literally flowing through her, feeling the music as an extended facet of herself she sang with riveting conviction and perspiring venom. Before the end of “Lady Beast”, I realised I was watching sheer magic in this band tonight. Lady Beast proceeded to tear new assholes to The Dominion punk crowd who took extremely well to the band as the stage front was filled with headbangers and even a few moshers, some sporting wildly huge orange mohawks. “Lady Beast” being the only inclusion from the debut record, the setlist was rounded out with great tracks from the Lady Beast II album like “Heavy Metal Destiny”, “We Are the Witches”, and “Caged Fury”. There were also new, “as yet unrecorded/released and unheard by The Meister” tracks from their forthcoming new EP thrown into the mix such as “Lady of the Battle”, “The Devil’s Due”, “The Ripper” (just a working title I’m told). But the absolute best track was saved for the last of the set, my favorite Lady Beast composition to date, “Banshee”. Before the band ripped into it, however, Deborah took a second to give me a personal shout out and say thanks to me for coming all the way from Toronto to see them….and she didn’t even know it was my top song! Karma, it was meant to be….lol.
Completely reeling from the ass-kicking that Lady Beast just laid down (and beverage consumptions surely adding to the melting pot), I wasn’t totally aware that I’d been kidnapped until it had happened. You see, my plan was to kill time (and hopefully not get dead since there’s a decent amount of sketchy people in the Ottawa downtown core) at an all-night McDonald’s or Tim Hortons until my train returning to Toronto to carry me straight to work for an 11-hour shift was departing. The band would have none of that apparently and I was hustled into the “School Students” van and whisked off to their residence for the night, one of the other band’s member’s houses. Super thanks to those folks for allowing me the use of their place for a few hours and for Lady Beast bassist Greg and merch lady Hollie for helping me stay awake (with drinks and good conversation) so I didn’t miss my 5am train home.
After a truly hellish 11-hour day at work on Friday and being totally heartbroken about missing the Friday night Lady Beast show, it was back to work early Saturday morning for another shift before I could once again escape and head 1.5 hours bus trip south to Lady Beast‘s Toronto gig setting the stage for Shotgun Cure and Mokomakai at Hard Luck Bar. Arriving early and near dead on my feet (I’m getting old), I stopped into the corner Tim Hortons for a much-needed coffee. Before long some of the patrons in the coffee line began to look familiar as I perched at a table near the window. Greg, Twiz and Andy and Lisa (Andy‘s girlfriend who supplied the “Caged Fury” live video on DBG YouTube channel from the first date in Rochester) stopped by briefly before heading back for sound check. Meeting up with Decibel Geek photographer Shawn Irwin we climbed the extensive flights of stairs into Hard Luck Bar. Good natured competing website editor Olivier from Sleazeroxx was already inside engaged in conversation with Greg and Deborah who broke away long enough to dole out/envelop me in another big hug as I made the introductions to Shawn Irwin. Other members made a point to say hi to me either through a wave or brief handshake as they passed by our conversation and after Greg and Deborah headed over to prepare to take the stage, Shawn commented at how welcoming and genuine they seemed. Exactly how they’ve made me feel and awesome that he felt/picked up on it right away! Shawn has been listening to me shouting from the rooftops about Lady Beast for some time, but has not really delved into their music aside from a little quick pre-show listening for tonight, but I sense he’s already catching the Lady Beast buzz.
Lady Beast from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania took the stage as the first band on tonight’s bill, leading this shortened set with “Lady Beast”. This time directly front and centre I really felt, even more so than Ottawa, the stage vibes delivered by Levine. Her eyes are possessive as she stares down the barrel of the microphone at you and right into the depths of your soul. Definitely a band that has certainly come into their own with this stable roster who are obviously so good together on and off stage. Shawn was in his absolute glory (photo geeks….lol) as his finger rapidly clicked the shutter trying to capture the hair-flying flurry of motion that is Deborah Levine on stage. Turns out he snapped near four hundred shots that night (a selection of his favorites appear in the gallery below)! Despite being the starter act and therefore playing to a smaller crowd, Lady Beast held nothing back as Andy and Twiz traded solos in front of Adam thundering away on his kit. Greg delivered thumping basslines, adopting a stance that reminded me a lot of Shock bassist Steve Monette. By the time Lady Beast had served us “We Are the Witches”, Shawn turned to me, nodding briefly, saying something like “Wow, these guys are really good/tight on stage”. Pay more attention to The Meister, I know what I’m talking about Mr. Irwin! “Devil’s Due”, “The Ripper”, “Lady of the Battle” and “Caged Fury”, were all presented with “Heavy Metal Destiny” rounding out the set. Unfortunately for me, “Banshee” was one of the casualties in this shorter playing time.
Shawn Irwin has now talked about a trip to Pittsburgh to see Lady Beast again, perfect. I’m in!
LIVE PHOTO CREDIT: Shawn “Animalize” Irwin (a full gallery appears below)