I know I have written about this before, but I have often imagined what it would have been like to witness one of the legendary bands before they broke. Being one of the fortunate ones to see Motley Crue at the Whiskey A Go-Go, maybe Metallica up in the San Francisco clubs or maybe Guns and Roses at the Troubadour as they honed the songs that would soon become Appetite For Destruction. A time when these bands were hungry, tight and ready to explode beyond a local level. The intensity of those shows must have been legendary as they scratched and clawed their way to the precipice of success. As a teenager, I longed to travel to the Sunset Strip in LA or the heart of New York in hopes that I could get in on a show such as this. Fortunately, I no longer have to imagine as last Saturday I got to experience just such a show and I found it in Waterloo, Ontario nonetheless.
Before we get to Saturday, April 16th, let’s back up a moment and set the stage. About 4 years ago I was invited out by a friend to come and check out the new band he was drumming for. Always up for some live heavy metal, I headed out and witnessed a band called West Memphis Suicide. With my jaw dragging on the floor, I left the club clutching both of their independent CDs. These guys kicked my ass! Solid songs, super heavy but very melodic and as a live act they were super tight and they looked to be having fun up there. That night I unknowingly became a “DIRT BAG”, a term of endearment that the band bestows upon their supporters. D.I.R.T. an acronym for Driven, Integrity, Respect, and Trust. Since then I have attended shows, reviewed, interviewed and promoted this band to anyone who dared listen.
A couple years ago they announced a name change to A Rebel Few but the true excitement came with the news that Sterling Winfield had been in contact with the guys and was interested in producing a new album with them. I won’t retell the story, it has all been said in my review of the new record, just click here to learn just how Pantera‘s producer became involved with this independent Canadian band. Suffice it to say I was stoked and honoured to be invited along with my Decibel Geek partner in crime Rich “The Meister” Dillon to the official CD release concert/celebration for As The Crow Flies.
Arriving at Maxwell’s Concert and Events we pulled into the parking lot to hear A Rebel Few music blasting from one of the cars parked nearby. Once we had acquired our passes we surveyed the lay of the land as neither Rich nor myself had been inside this venue before. An amazing stage with great site lines, Maxwell’s is a big club and it’s a good thing. After securing a frosty beverage, we grabbed a spot near the front and watched as a steady stream of denim clad rockers, many sporting both A Rebel Few and West Memphis Suicide DIRT BAG t-shirts filled the club to capacity numbers. It seems this was the hot ticket in Waterloo but I am not surprised as this band works tirelessly to self-promote and have built their following one show at a time.
So at 10:30 pm on the dot, the house lights went out and to my surprise 4 LCD panel screens came to life. This wasn’t just a bar gig, this was to be a Rock Show! Big stage, big lights, huge sound and the screens added an element of BIG VISUALS! The theme song for TV’s Dukes of Hazzard played out as images of the infamous General Lee Dodge raced across the LCD screens. This built the anticipation as the guys took their spots on stage, the screens changed gears and displayed a myriad of custom A Rebel Few graphics and video footage as they launched into “Dyin’ Breed” from the new album and it was on, both barrels aimed squarely at the chest.
The thing I love most about this band is the way they take razor sharp, brutal riffs and combine them with such groove and melody. It’s a balance that few bands can deliver with any consistency. If you are questioning exactly what I am describing to you, think Pantera and the song “Cowboys From Hell”. Or better yet just order your copy of As The Crow Flies, close your eyes, open your ears and let it take you away.
For almost two hours it was a non-stop barrage of head banging bliss. The set-list delivered a huge helping of the new CD, “Born Again”, “Serious”, “Said And Done”, “Empires Fall” and “Bitter Man”. Combined with some of the stand out West Memphis Suicide material like “Sixx Feet”, “Nothing Messiah”, “Delta Bruise” and “Black Widow”. I had to laugh, here was a band celebrating their new CD which hasn’t even been officially released (April 22nd!) and they drop not one but two brand new songs into the setlist! “The Rub” and “Come On With It”. Somebody, please get Sterling Winfield on the phone because the first two songs are ready for the next album, KILLER! It’s truly no wonder my neck felt that I had been rear-ended on the 401 the next day. A well deserved heavy metal whiplash indeed.
A number of times throughout the show I found myself shaking me head in sheer amazement. The production level of this show was completely off the hook and far beyond many of the national touring acts that I have seen the past few years. It seems to me that A Rebel Few are poised and ready to become more than simply a local success. The strength of this new record and the professional production of their live experience have them poised for ready for much, much more. One thing is certain, when the dust settled on Saturday night Chris, Barry, Chris and Adam returned home as victorious “Rock Stars” and deservedly so!
*All live photos by Kris Gelder @ Snapshots by kris
*Incredible Selfie by Barry Martin