LEGIONS OF METAL II FESTIVAL
While obviously paramount, every festival is about more than the music. The social aspect and expanding your worldwide network of like-minded friends has to come into play somewhere as well. Also eating, that’s important too! This means at a jam-packed event like the Legions of Metal II Festival, it is inevitable that you will not see some of the acts on stage. Also, I did not enjoy every band I saw. That does not mean anything. Just one crazy Canadian’s opinion. Every band on stage packed their “A” games. All performers had their rabid fans in attendance. Faces were melted (sometimes more) in each and every set. Just because I maybe didn’t like that band doesn’t mean they sucked!
Here’s my blog style account of my time on the first official day of the 2018 Legions of Metal II Festival!
LEGIONS OF METAL II FESTIVAL – Day One
Cancellations be damned! The first official day at the sophomore Legions of Metal II Festival began with an air of electrically charged excitement. I always get that before an event. The anticipation of the bands. The reconnecting with worldwide friends seen only at world wide shows and Facebook. Losing two of tonight’s bands on short notice could not dampen the atmosphere.
I first took a seat at the bar next to Justin from the Glistening Metal website. I met Justin at last year’s event and we immediately hit it off. Great to see you again sir! The event’s organizer, Bob Byrne happened by and Justin introduced us. Excellent to finally meet Bob in person after so many Facebook chats and interaction. I was, however, a little disappointed that he was not sporting the famed track pants I’ve heard so much about.
Once the doors to the big side of the venue opened, I checked in and picked up my Legions of Metal II Festival t-shirt. I always like to have the event shirt to commemorate my experiences. And a great way to help support and ensure future events. Then it was up to the VIP area for the included buffet chow. Certainly, a good idea, knowing the alcohol consumption ahead of me.
Weaponlord were the first victim of the day so to speak. Having been spinning their debut record Hail The Victorious for a week or so now, I was looking forward to the live set. They didn’t disappoint playing-wise with entertaining stage presence thanks to the bassist and guitarist. However, there seemed to be a lot of “F” bombs. You know the ones that seem way over the top and out of place? Those ones. They played selections such as “Witch Hunt”, “Life Of Crime (Going Downtown)”, “Mission 25” and the title track. They announced that it was a short set as they hadn’t been rehearsing very much. The Weaponlord set ended 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Now perhaps their time got extended with the loss of Toxik from the bill. But it seems to me that knowing they were playing the festival they should have rehearsed another song or two.
Absolutely fantastic remeeting up with Dustin Hardman from AFM Records/Frontiers Records. Having shared many music conversations, knowledge, and meeting in person once in Florida a couple years back. Dustin and I headed over to the other side. The other side being the Reggie’s Music Joint. The Reggie’s Rock Club and the Music Joint are connected via a hallway that also houses the staircase leading up to the VIP (formerly a record store) and the rooftop patio. In said hallway is the band merch (except the more headlining bands who have a small spot by the front door). As we passed by I paused to secure the Sirenhex demo….or EP…whatever. I knew that these California girls were going to crush on stage. In the most recent episode of the CGCM Podcast, my co-host and I welcome guest Sheldon Byer from Vancouver’s Roadrash. He told me to make sure I check out Sirenhex and even played a Sirenhex track on the podcast. Unfortunately, the track is from a live YouTube video and features truly awful audio. But we played it anyway!
With the last minute dropout of Unity (due to illness) everything on stage in the small Music Joint would start later than scheduled. We engaged in metal conversation…and drank some beer. Always interested in how I and Decibel Geek/CGCM can better support and promote bands, Dustin is a wealth of advice. And a truly standup dude as well. And it’s his birthday today! With pleasure, the beer’s on me mate. Another connection made here at last year’s event is that with True Metal Lives writer Kit Ekman. Many folks think that my traveling rock and roll obsession is in complete overdrive. Well, meet Kit! He’s worse than I am I think! Kindred spirits we are for sure and I always love connecting with someone who “gets me”.
Deep in conversations…..and beers, time lost all relevancy. Unfortunately, this meant we nearly completely missed Freeways. The song and a half that we did catch only received partial attention as our in-depth conversation raged on, as did the beer. The band had a very earthy 70s Hard Rock type of tone to them. I noted that Freeways would warrant more investigation at a later date. But then it got weird later on. Instead of waiting until the chronological occurrence I’ll just discuss the weirdness here as it relates to Freeways. Much later on timewise with untold empties stacked up behind, someone said: “did you catch the Toronto band?”. Thinking them insane, I insisted there was no Toronto band at the Legions of Metal II event. Hey, guess where Freeways is from! Wtf? Actually, they’re from Brampton just outside of Toronto. But close enough. Now I am really sorry I didn’t catch more of their set!
Popping in from the patio to catch Ancient Seance, the initial band on the Music Joint stage, the set again got lost. Another band bites the dust I suppose. Not that they were bad by any means. In fact, their Sabbathy doomish soundings also warrant further investigation. Pulling our attention from Ancient Seance, Dustin and I, already distracted by beer and chatting became further occupied. This time around, it was spotting Stacey Savage in the crowd. We thought we’d picked her off earlier but now were positive. Having worked with Savage Master in the past, Dustin was looking forward to meeting her in person. Saying hello and introducing ourselves we chatted for a few minutes. Before long Savage Master‘s Adam Neal joined for photos. I’m always stoked when an artist remembers me, especially if only from a brief concert meeting several months previous. Yet, Adam did remember me from Savage Master‘s show in Toronto.
Nothing was going to hold me back from Widow. This is something extremely attractive to me, loving their most recent offering, 2016’s Carved In Stone. Out of Raleigh, North Carolina I was surprised to hear Widow announce that they’d been around 20 years! And I only just found them with Carved In Stone! Classic Traditional Metal, Widow were totally on point. The sound was crystal clear all three musicians tightly woven together. Tracks like “Carved in Stone”, “Lady Twilight”, and “Take Hold Of The Night” all went down smoothly. These guys basically blew me away and I’ve been playing Carved In Stone since returning home. A truly fantastic performance…I need more Widow!
I bought the Sirenhex EP/demo CD before really even hearing anything from the band. I just knew it would be good…Roadrash‘s Sheldon Byer told me so on the CGCM Podcast! And he was correct. You can literally see and feel the hunger in these four ladies and one dude. There’s a ton of power emanating from the stage and Sirenhex blew people away with it. They attacked like a tornado and left devastation in their wake. I think many were shocked. Overall a great set and while I understand the rhythm section solo bit another tune would have been paramount. But hey, Sirenhex is just getting started and they are turning heads. I’m sure their repertoire will fill up shortly.
Wanting to secure himself a Sirenhex EP/Demo CD Dustin and I stopped by the merch hallway as we passed through on the way to Diamond Rexx. Inevitably we met the band and of course, photos ensued. In speaking quickly with frontwoman Luna, when I mentioned that I’d just played a bad audio Sirenhex track on CGCM, she’d not only heard but also already tried to listen! Thanks, Sheldon for spreading the word!
Missing a good bit of Diamond Rexx after the Sirenhex photo opportunity, the attentions were lost again. What I did hear sounded excellent. More on the 80s Hard Rock side of the spectrum, Diamond Rexx by the sounds of it should be more of a household name. Yet another band new on my radar and warranting further investigations once home.
Finding ourselves back on the Music Joint side for Reckless Force after the Freeways Toronto discovery, we again missed an untold amount of the show. And we didn’t linger too long with Q5 hitting the Rock Club shortly. Dammit, I’m missing so many good bands. Having a truly friggin awesome time but again I feel that failing at Reckless Force was a big mistake.
Having seen the one-off reformed Q5 at Sweden Rock a few years back, I am in tune with this band. Even more so that their New World Order release from 2016 sat securely in my number one spot in the top albums race that year. The roster is a little different than the Sweden gig most notably we find Jeffrey McCormack behind the kit. Check out the Decibel Geek interview with McCormack and our Swedish writer Mikael. Announcing that they would play the Steel The Light album entirely, Q5 absolutely put on a clinic. They were not the original headliner of the evening but moved into the slot on the cancellation of Toxik (due to illness). Q5 proved that they deserved the spot in the first place. What a show! With Steel The Light being touted as one of the top metal albums of all time, the chosen set obviously delighted the Legions of Metal II crowd. Also in the mix were songs such as “When the Mirror Cracks”, “One Night in Hellas” and “New World Order”. Thank-you Q5 for a truly awesome gig, hopefully, I will get the chance to see you again someday.
Another awesome day at Legions of Metal II Festival. This event gets stronger by the day and Reggie’s is a great and endearing venue as well. Check out my Pre-Party Report from last night and be sure to watch for the final day’s coverage coming soon! And for 2017’s adventure you can read here: Legions Of Metal Festival 2017.