Postcards from Uncle Muddy

Necessity is the Mother of Frank Zappa, or something like that. Necessity also makes for very peculiar bedfellows. Not necessarily unwanted bedfellows, but perhaps not the kind you talk about in the morning. Kenora has a history of necessity, and if you’ve ever been here you would agree, especially on the bedfellows bit. To easily sum up the scene in Kenora, there’s two camps; Bar Bands, and not. The Bar Bands here play top 40 from your parent’s K-tel collection (not your Uncles’ mind you, my vinyl is cheese-free, thank you), & get screwed over by greedy money mongering bar owners, who walk around with hard ons every time they bend over to pick up a nickel. This brings us to the nots. The nots are pretty much restricted to charities, and all ages shows. The nots however, are a strange bunch indeed; if you were to attend an all ages show here you would be dumbfounded by many points: (in no order what so ever) 1- Who the hell ran for all these drunk 13 year olds? 2- This venue (normally a community club) looks like a bingo hall. 3-Why are they rolling in Marshall stacks in behind guys playing with acoustics, and glockenspiels? These are a few curious questions that may affront you when you approach, but fear not, there are answers. There is a bizarre brotherhood of musicians in Kenora… yes we have our assholes mostly metal-head guitarists who take themselves too seriously, and wax intellectually about the redeeming licks of Yngwie. For the most part it is a strange community (strange as in a Manson Family-esque, hippy commune of sorts). Melodic Death Metal acts like Last Day Fading, booking shows with singer-songwriters armed with acoustics and gentle voices to warm their crowd. Imagine if you would, Pantera, with Gordon Lightfoot opening. Oddly enough, the Kenora crowd accepts this as the norm, they listen and sway to the sound of guys like Matt Chapeskie, and Jordan Macdonald, and go Helter-Skelter at the first sound of a tube driven stack being powered up. This could be the alcohol, I’m not sure. The last show in town was held at the ski hill… an unconventional venue again, but one of the few that were remaining as an option. An odd mix for this show: three acoustic acts opening for two metal bands. In all my intentions, it was going to be a breeze… have a few beer, catch a couple acts, and go home for a nice evening with friends. However, my plans were hindered again by the police… more on that later. Opening the show was Jordan Macdonald, a singer-songwriter who has recently put the final touches on his Sophmore release. Jordan is a favourite with the younger folks… his song “Last year’s scarf” always ends up being a crowd pleasing sing-along. His style is an acoustic blend of pop, punk, and emo, with vocals that recall a gentler Green Day… as his set was concluding, the peculiar crowd circulating drew my attention. You had goth girls dressed in black, with various facial piercings that were illuminated by flash bulbs, mingling with skiers dressed up sharp as if to hit the slopes in Banff, unfortunately they were in Kenora. Hardcore Metal Dudes hanging back, while the emo kids in their striped T-shirts and long sweaters watched silently. I was trapped in the concession line up behind some soccer mom buying treats for everyone of her goofy looking children in matching ski jackets, as Mike Procyshyn went on. The girl behind the counter seemed shocked at the rate I had been guzzling the beer… obviously ski-bunnies were not heavy drinkers, I supposed. The highlight of Mike’s set was an impromptu James Brown impersonation that had him down on one knee and having someone drape a ‘cape’ over his shoulders. Now, I use the phrase ‘cape’ very loosely here, as it was more of a mangy looking carcass of some poor animal, appearing as if it had been skinned using dull scissors only moments earlier. It was a cigarette break for me when Matt Chapeskie came up. He addresses the crowd quietly, yet it’s enough to capture the room. His voice is soft, wispy, and dreamy, until it rises and breaks to a scream. This is the instant when you fall in love, when your heart breaks, when you see the girl that you loved so much back in ’98, it makes you want to cry. Then, you’re left humming the inconceivably catchy number that Matt layed at your feet. I stood agape, captured as always by his material, even the empty cup of beer in my hand was not enough to pull me away. As Matt was winding down his set, insanely angled electric guitars peeled out of cases, and “Revenant” were ready. This was accentuated by the Metal Dudes now pushing up to the front of the crowd, I was pushed from behind, fortunately, my beer was empty, or there would’ve been hell to pay. I have to admit the name caught me off guard… Revenant: to return after death (as a ghost), or a long period of time. All it took was one snare hit from Brett Hager, and the crowd pushed forward, rapidly switching gears… they had been in acoustic mode, now however the room filled with the aroma of sweat, you could feel the energy in the air, as deranged pheromones danced in the air. The crowd forms a tight circle around the band as they warm up... I hear a few bars of ‘Black Dog’ come from Kyle Neniska's bass rig... The fans are ravenous, like sharks with a drop of blood in the water... "Mikey" the vocalist works the crowd, drawing them even closer as fans mingle between the guitarists and bass player, as Brett pounds the skins like a young John Bonham, providing back up vocals... Revenant is rounded out by ‘Timmy’, and Derek Franz. The sound pushes my body, I'm forced to sneak in my earplugs... the crowd is getting more drunken and violent. I need another cigarette, I'm not big on getting pushed around so I move outside. Looking at the time, I realize I've got to get going. Damn, I thought. no time for Last Day Fading. No worries, there’s enough Last Day Fading debauchery to fill an article on it’s own, and it shall. Despite my best intentions to leave, there’s always distractions… I met up with some friends in the parking lot. Crammed into the confines of a tiny Toyota, we decided to gamble. If you’re not holding, this is no problem. Yes, you are obligated to identify yourself, that is it. The bass player to my left had a half ounce in his pocket, but conjured only a pipe when the officer had asked us for the drugs. “That’s all we had… a bowl.” Keep in mind that the law is the casino, odds are stacked in their favor. That being noted, if you’re not holding, you can exorcise your rights. Remain silent, do not incriminate yourself. Keep everything in context: what’s the larger threat: Four stoned Twenty-something’s, or Twenty-odd drunk 14 year olds? Young girls experiencing their first drunken emotional attacks, in the ski hill washroom, while the heavy thud of Melodic Death Metal creeps through the ceiling tiles. The blurry tears streaming faster as someone utters that the police have just arrived. Hell in a pink bathroom for sure. I calculated the threat, and determined we were the lesser. As if to accentuate this inner monologue, as the officer was examining our ID’s a drunk teen staggers out the clubhouse door with a “Woo-hoo!”. I was counting cards now, our odds of release were looking better. We placed our bets, when we declared only the pipe. I relaxed a little as she went to run our ID’s, my main concern was not the pot so much as the bottle of red wine we had been consuming in the car. When the cops had scanned the interior, they missed it. The photographer who had the misfortune of sitting behind the drivers wheel when they arrived, was beginning to sweat. After several drunken minors professed their states of inebriation by screaming, lipping off the cops, or vomiting. The officer was quick to let us off with a mere ‘tsk-tsk’. Every once in awhile, a bluff pays off, however, the rub: with this casino you only break even, you never really win. Sadly, I missed Last Day Fading… however, there’s always next month.

Advertise with Backstage Winnipeg by clicking below

Smash Seven Studios Copyright © 2005 Site by Jason Bekiaris