Monday, November 4, 2013

KEN Mode and Full of Hell @ The Mansion, Oct. 22, 2013

Oh Tuesday night shows. Your case of the Mondays hasn't worn off yet and Friday is still so far off. Do you really want to be out late? Fuckin right you do! Even when you've just worked 4 straight 12 hour days and you're staring in the face of 4 straight 12 hour night shifts, you grab your concert buddy, lace up your shitkickers and get your ass to the show because it's KEN Mode and Full of Hell! But apparently Kingston did get the memo about dedication because turnout was weak. Ah well, more room for me to throw my body around like a Queen's University Engineering jacket at Homecoming.
Local openers In Your House warmed up the uh, crowd with some pretty groovy tunes. They had some more agressive leanings but for the most part they entertained us with some slick riffs and a passion for their music. While their banter was mostly awkward, they did hit the nail on the head when they asked "Is there anyone here NOT in a band? Me, my friend and the one and only Kevin Stewart-Panko raised our hands. That might have been it. Show up early kids.
Vera Pearl took to The Mansion's tiny stage next. Last time I saw VP play they were missing some members due to illness and had ex-I Hate Sally/The Chariot bassist Dan Vokey helping out. This time, the band was all there and they were on fire. Kingston's mathmetal mongers had no trouble bending time signatures to their will despite their sparse live performance record. Their guitarist downplayed their performance but from this side of the monitors, shit was tight. Also on this side of the monitors was their vocalist. Barking with hardcore might, he climbed couches and chairs and even got a piggy back. Somebody buy that man some Old Style Pilsner!
The lone (all) American band on the bill was Full of Hell. Their latest album, Rudiments of Mutilation, puts hardcore on the rack and stretches its limbs into a distorted nightmare. Their set took the more extreme elements of their sound and thrust them full force into the room. Their set was over far too quickly but when caught in the moment of it, time became irrelevant. The band flayed the skin from our flesh as vocalist Dylan Walker stalked the floor in front of the stage, screaming his challenging and thought-provoking lyrics like his life depended on it. Physically engaged or not, the noise breaks were almost a welcome respite in which to catch a quick breath. And no one needed that more than their drummer. Full of Hell don't play fun music. And Full of Hell don't play with big smile on their faces either. But don't mistake their stoic expressions for disinterest. Rather, their furrowed brows and tight lips are the faces of total immersion and commitment to their art. No doubt the unititiated were left stunned by their dark and twisted hardcore noise. Simply put; they killed it.
Headliners. Juno winners. Advocates of Kill Everything Now. Really nice goofballs. KEN Mode. The Winnipeg noisecore giants capped off an evening already worth the $15 admission. It was like overtime. Or rather injury time, as the double-digit assemblage had free reign of the floor for all manner of shenanigans. Leaning heavily on material from their latest masterpiece, Entrench, the brothers Matthewson (Jesse and Shane) and Andrew Lacour shook The Mansion to its foundations with a seriously intense set. The crowd was fully into it as they crashed through frantic highs and crushing lows. Knowing looks passed between concert goers saying "Yeah man. This is awesome." Because it was. Really, it's probably impossible for KEN Mode to put on a bad show. The material is rock solid and these are professionally trained musicians. Crowd pleasers (why does that sound dirty?) like "No; I'm in Control", in which Jesse plays bass as well (two basses!! Ooooooh yeah baby! That's why it sounds dirty), and "Figure Your Life Out" brought things to a fever pitch. But none more so than "Your Heart Warming Story Makes Me Sick". Someone probably pulled some back muscles during the tension and release leading up to the chorus on that one. (ie. Me.)
The concentrated energy of KEN Mode being filtered into a small crowd like that breathes with a different kind of intensity. From the strangers, arms draped across each others shoulders, locked in a chain head bang, to the guy who was just way too into it and you know is gonna have a week-long bangover (me, again), everyone in that room was engaged. Small shows in intimate venues can lead to unforgettable experiences.
If Full of Hell killed it, KEN Mode ground it to dust and put it in the ground. Kingston is getting less and less metal shows and it's a bloody shame. So when you get shows like this one you really appreciate it. In Your House, Vera Pearl, Full of Hell and KEN Mode put on a monster of a show. You shoulda been there, man.
Oh, and Shane will not rest until the entire nation refers to Tim Horton's as "T-Whores". So get on it.