This is more of a blog style article than a specific concert review. For those that know Decibel Geek/me, somewhat of a return to form as “they” say. Whoever “they” are. What follows are my experiences, thoughts, and reviews while Lionsault performed a mini-tour of Southern Ontario during November 2019. Hope you enjoy the read and of course the band! Cheers.
Barrie, Ontario – LIONSAULT – Southern Ontario Mini-Tour
After an exhausting day at work, some are just more taxing than others, I grabbed a bus north to Barrie, Ontario. The close to an hour and a half trip provided excellent opportunity to nap, all the while Lionsault‘s debut album (Are You Feeling Lucky) from 2015 on repeat in the headphones.
Pulling into Barrie’s downtown bus terminal, I opted to hoof it to my chosen abode (Travelodge) rather than town bus or Uber. Checking in, I shed the work attire and freshened up with a hot shower. Some sitcom TV killed an hour or so ahead of my appointed time to head back out. Opening the hotel curtains to be greeted by sheets of rain, the walk to the venue was definitely off the table. Uber is my friend.
FOXX LOUNGE & HOTDOGGERY
Barrie’s Foxx Lounge and Hotdoggery, despite the odd name, is somewhat of a destination. They have been making quite the name for themselves in the community as a place for live rock and roll according to some online reviews. And some great menu selections too! Inside the room is quite small, which makes it extremely comfortable. Probably around 30 seats but with standing there were easily another 20 (more steadily filled in throughout the night). Ordering myself some food selections and of course a beer, it took only moments of my presence in Foxx before I was accosted. Accosted by Lionsault vocalist/bassist Kortni Nicols as she spotted me and quickly moved in to deliver a massive hug. My God, it’s good to see you kid!
For those not currently in the know, after I reviewed the Are You Feeling Lucky release, Lionsault‘s at the time guitarist Taylor Sheasgreen reached out to me. He loved the review and we chatted a fair bit. He hit me up for advice on bars booking bands out this way. Sure enough, not too long after, Lionsault made their first driving trek from Miramichi, NB to Southern Ontario.
Somehow in this trek, they had a couple nights of impending homelessness. Well, I stepped in to save the day. Lionsault lived at my house for three days including a day off in which I took them to a Toronto Blue Jays game! So, we have a history! In fact, my mother, who has now endured two mini-strokes, even bonded with the young folks of Lionsault. I told her this morning that I would not be home after work. Told her I was off to Barrie for a concert. She always asks who the band is and never knows, especially not now. I said the band that stayed at our house three years ago. She proceeded to name the members all by name and insisted I say “hi”!
LIONSAULT at Foxx Lounge & Hotdoggery
The New Brunswick trio took the stage as the final band of the evening. Wow! I forgot just how good Lionsault‘s songs were live. I mean, I’d just refreshed myself with the album on the way up, but they punched me hard here in Barrie tonight. A couple of new tunes in the mix, part of what I’m told is a forthcoming album currently in the works. The new songs have a heavier, even thrashy tinge to them at points and sound thunderous.
New guitarist Cody Ramsdale taking over for Taylor Sheasgreen has clearly stepped directly into the role. The chemistry that obviously flows between the trio is evident and strong. Ramsdale is the perfect fit for Lionsault. On the subject of member changeups, drummer Chase Nicols (yes relation to Kortni) is back behind the kit after a short hiatus. Frankly exactly where he belongs. The dynamic between the siblings shines through as they play live and you can hear more about their relationship in my Lionsault interview below. The vocals Kortni delivered here tonight simply gave chills. Her register has developed a fantastic “whiskey and smokes” sounding throaty growl that she uses at various points.
Cambridge, Ontario – LIONSAULT – Southern Ontario Mini-Tour
Unfortunately, I would be missing the show on Friday in Brantford. The lengthy public transit nightmare to arrive there is one thing but again stranded with no late night options home was not appetizing. So with the band having Saturday off, I planned to catch them at The Bovine in Toronto for Sunday’s show. That gig also featuring my friends in Second Pass and Nervcast whom I’ve wanted to catch live since hearing the album.
But I’m somewhat of a mastermind if I do say so myself. The band had not intended a day off on Saturday but couldn’t find anywhere booking. The hamster began to spin in the wheel. As he ran round and round inside my head, an idea sprung to life. The CGCM Podcast sponsor Rhythm and Brews Brewing Company has a stage at the brewery in Cambridge Ontario. I set the wheels in motion and lo and behold Lionsault were able to schedule a last minute addition to the tour dates!
The brewery is also not overly accessible to me. The main reason I’ve yet to visit our sponsor’s house. Reaching out to good friend Olivier from friendly rival website Sleazeroxx and alerting him to the show addition solved my transit issues. Meeting him in the downtown core of Toronto we headed out to Cambridge Ontario, Rhythm & Brews and Lionsault.
RHYTHM & BREWS
With Rhythm & Brews choosing purple as their color, we easily found the location on an industrial-like side street in downtown Cambridge by the purple emblazoned exterior sign illumination. Inside, the bar area of the brewery is basically situated among the huge brewing vats (or whatever the technical term happens to be). The lighting radiated a purple hue down upon the tables and the patrons inside. The stage placed just beyond the few tables was basically a few skid pallets laid out on the floor. And Lionsault was doing a soundcheck, quite loudly, as we entered. Obtaining a Hefe Metal beer from the bar, Olivier and I took seats at a table towards the front. Soundcheck complete, Lionsault joined us at the table as we all introduced new axeman Cody Ramsdale and Olivier.
With the whole thing being a last-minute operation, things are often confusing and/or miscommunications abound. In putting this together I tried to reach Kortni and put her in touch with folk at Rhythm & Brews but her data had hit its limit. The brewery had already agreed to allow Lionsault use of the stage. But I had to get the band in contact so everyone would know what the plan was. All of a sudden an event page popped up in my Facebook news feed. I naturally just thought Kortni and the brewery had made contact and the arrangements. Apparently not. She thought that I had contacted the brewery, arranged it and she’d missed the details. I guess in all the back and forth messaging confusion the brewery created an event. Perfect. Now we all knew it was a go….lol. When the band showed up at Rhythm & Brews a few introductory questions had the bartender showing them the stage and location of the soundboard. A total DIY show from top to bottom.
LIONSAULT at Rhythm & Brews
Lionsault began their set at maybe 9:15. They played the same tracklist that I had witnessed in Barrie two nights back which was OK by all means. But a couple of things were different tonight. Number one they all seemed to have a much higher energy yet also a calm fluidity on stage than at Barrie. Not that it was disjointed there, but it just seemed more together tonight. I think a lot of it had to do with the coolness of the venue. I mean they were playing shrouded in a purple hue that reflected off the massive shiny silver vats to the right of the stage. Behind them sat a raised platform, presumably for access to certain brewing equipment.
The warehouse height style ceiling could and probably should have caused an echoy acoustic issue. By the way, unless I’m mistaken Lionsault is the very first full electric rock band to play the brewery stage! Prior to that, I’m sure the ceiling was fine for the acoustic performances and open mike nights held there. But holy monkeys the sound was incredible. Loud, but I personally like that. I don’t know if it was due to the venue or that Lionsault operated their own soundboard but the audio here at Rhythm & Brews is perhaps among the best I’ve ever experienced. Each instrument and vocal were crystal clear in the mix, no muffled muddiness that can happen during live sets. Whatever it was the sound was awesome. There were some minor guitar hiccups with a weak patch cord followed by a broken string but Cody remained calm and picked up his second guitar not missing many notes at all. Chase seemed in his element bashing away on his kit. The man hits hard and gets a great “punch” out of his drums. And Kortni? Well, her voice just seems to get stronger and stronger. The whole band so comfortable tonight, she really let loose at the mic.
As to be expected with the last minute and non-promotion, Olivier and I were the only ones here to see Lionsault. There were some other patrons around the bar and a couple of tables against the wall, basically as far away from the stage as allowed in Rhythm & Brews. Probably they just came to their local watering hole to get out of the house for a Saturday night activity. However, many did clap and I saw a few cell phone cameras pointed stageward. Olivier and I basically stood in front of the closest table, about six feet away from the stage. Our own private show! In fact, after the set, Cody would remark that it was a bit like playing to the two cranky old Muppets in the balcony on that iconic TV show. Fine by us!
We all again grabbed seats around the table and a couple of beers. Discussing the set, tour, other music, and generally, band and two fans alike, all basking in the afterglow of a great performance. Olivier did a quick on the fly impromptu interview with all the band members. We said our farewells and headed on the road back to Toronto area probably one of our earliest times home after a show! See you tomorrow night Lionsault.
LIONSAULT at Bovine
When an engine runs out of gas, it stops. I fell prey to this fate and the comforts of my couch on Sunday night. After a weekend filled with long work hours and the shows, I reached home from work with enough time to shower, change and relax for an hour. A half an hour or so of TV before heading out to The Bovine seemed like a good idea at the time. But sleep came fast and furious and by the time I awoke, my dinner spilled on the floor, it was too late to make the show! I actually fell asleep with the dinner plate in hand, tipping its contents to the floor during the slumber! I’m sure it was a ripping gig, sorry to miss it.
Check out Lionsault through the links below!