Review Of The March 25th Sunday Slamfest.

Note: I know this is coming late. But given how bad my migraine was these past 5 days, better later than never.

Motion was one word that stuck in my mind this past Sunday. I was shooting photos and conducting an interview for a zine with my friend. There were five bands, instead of the usual four that play a Slamfest. There was a small, but solid, mosh pit going at points. And the crowd was as it usually is, receptive and eager to see the show.

1st band: Web Society.

Continuing their streak of impression evolution, Stoney Creek’s Web Society put on a must-see show that brought Teenage Head to my mind. Not only did they display their own songs in an impressive light, but they did an impeccable cover of Screeching Weasel’s ‘The Girl Next Door.’ As bonuses, they debuted a new song, had an audience member up to assist on vocals, and drummer Stephen Petrina gave some rousing spoken word that sticks out in an entirely good way.

10 out of 10.

2nd band: The Jiggawatts.

The first of two bands to drop in Sunday from London Ontario, the Jiggawatts are a very unique band. I say this because they have Hard-Core, almost Metal, instrumentation and raspy vocals. But they also manage to maintain amazing melody in their songs.  I wasn’t present for all of their set, as I was interviewing Web Society for the zine. But they gave a fantastic set, as they did the last time I saw them.

9 out of 10.

3rd band: Nothing Helper.

It wasn’t that long ago that I saw a Nothing Helper set, and my opinion hasn’t changed about them. They remain a personal favorite. And a cool, wacky 4-piece from Brantford who bring alot of fun to any set they play. (Which they did again on Sunday. ) They played their breezy brand of Punk, and I’m sure I’m not the only who got a chuckle out of their smart-ass songs and kooky antics.

10 out of 10.

4th band: 413’s.

The only Hamilton band on the bill for Sunday was 413’s. And I was psyched. This quintet has a sound that blends Punk Rock with 50’s Rockabilly, and it couldn’t get better. It’s always great to see older songs getting a new take/ life, and to see people stepping outside the genre.  The set had a few cute moments, as the daughter of the lead singer came onstage to help sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to some guests of the band members.

10 out of 10.

5th band: Johnny Terrien and the Bad Lieutenants.

Simple is not always a bad thing. For instance, the case of Johnny Terrien and the Bad Lieutenants. They were the second London band of the afternoon, and played very simple Punk Rock that reminded me of the Ramones. They were all very astute on their chosen instrument, including voice, and I hope they come calling on Hamilton’s Punk scene again. Especially at This Ain’t Hollywood.

9 out of 10.

Review Of Gatling’s ‘Beforemath.’

To make your mark in music, uniqueness is key.

Gatling seems to be taking that knowledge and running with it.

-Their music is Metal, but you can’t place it in any category. And it’s not the stereotype of growling vocals and migraine inducing thuds. Instead, they have instrumentation that ranges from one acoustic guitar to a drum, two guitars, and a bassist playing loudly together.

-One way their music is available is through the Xbox Rock Band library. They are tapping into that ever important video game market, which is considered the new movie-soundtrack spot.

-And; they play a variety of shows. From the old Absinthe location, which had a basement; to their upcoming Mod Club gig.

Their album, Beforemath, is due out April 12th. But I got an advance copy of the songs to review, and I was pleasantly surprised. Just like I was when I first saw them at Absinthe.

1st Track: Ten Forward.

Opening with melodic guitars and minimal drums, this song soon becomes fuller. (Showcasing the strong rhythm of drummer Alex Sallas and bassist Matt Luu.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The few lyrics in the song make you curious, as they describe trying to forget, among other things, a ‘brush with death.’  There is a nifty little section, around 3 and a half minutes into the song, that I love. It brings surf rock so strongly to mind.

2nd Track: Midnight Cemetery.

I consider this the opposite to the first song. It starts off as a louder, chaotic whir of instruments and goes into lighter guitars. And the clear, concise vocals of frontman Elliot Slater.                                                                                                                                                                                        Soon enough though, the listener is given back over to the grand, loud instrumentation. You gotta love it, though.

3rd Track: Inverse Condemnation.

I do not know if it was Elliot Slater, or the second guitarist Alex Crosty. Or even Alex Sallas, who plays when he is not on drums. But whoever it was, someone played guitar on this song and gave it a rather hypnotic, dream-like quality.  But in the last minute of the song, the sound goes in a very Metal direction. However, it’s extremely well done.

4th Track: Vertigo.

All the instruments, and the vocals, are showcased well on Vertigo. As it bounces from heavy, to light, to back again.  The subject matter seems to be about a break-up, but that’s just a guess.

5th Track: Glass Room.

The lyrics to this track are a little creepy, but the creepy I like. (‘Waking up/ To the eyes of the dead’) Music-wise, it’s a rather light song. It’s full of acoustic guitars, and has a few rifts that really caught my attention.

6th Track: On A Rail.

This is a strong song, in my opinion. The lyrics speak, at one point, of learning from mistakes. There is solid, howling guitars courtesy of Alex Crosty and Elliot Slater.  And once again, Alex Sallas and Matt Luu give an amazingly full rhythm section.

7th Track: Absolute.

Sometimes there’s power in subtlety. As this track proves. It starts off by seeming like a light track with lyrics that make you feel sorry for the protagonist. ( It repeats ‘You lied to us’) But then, the song hits the 2 minute mark, and the band makes some serious noise. And it leaves you thinking: ‘If they can do that to the instruments, they can handle whoever they’re singing about.’

8th Track: What Lies Below.

Making, to me, what seems like the most of their Metal potential on this track, Gatling get their heaviest. And fullest. And craziest. This is the longest track on the album, at 11 minutes and 40 seconds, and listening to it is akin to a Metal roller coaster. The lyrics are a little dark, as they discuss ‘a gunshot to the head…../Is this what Death looks like?’

How I Fell Into The Role Of ‘The Writer.’

Writing is something I seem to do automatically these days. I sit down at the family computer, think shortly about what would fit, and it comes spilling out. It would seem I have found my niche.

I’ve been writing for a long time. Back when I was 10, it was a poor attempt at a book. (I am still interested in writing books, but it is definitely something to be approached slowly.)

When I became a teenager, I went more in the direction of song-writing and poetry. And I still had the stories bouncing around my mind.

Some stuff went well, some didn’t. The poetry got displayed in an art exhibit. Some of my songs went on to be perfromed at Open Mics when I was still involved in that. And the stories are complete in my mind, not in print.

When I started attending Punk shows, I took in alot. At first, I was happy to just be a fan and attend. But then, I noticed that everybody had a role. And I felt like I needed to do something. So back in 2009, I started taking notes at shows. That led to a crappy little zine that I showed to only my family.

It felt good that I had accomplished something. But I wasn’t sure about my next step.

As a bit of time went on, I got on to Facebook. And I noticed the Notes section.

On Valentines Day 2011, I wrote my first piece. It was about the rather selfish history of the day.

I began giving my opinion on politics and social matters, but I wanted to mix things up a little. And at the time, I had the feeling once again that I wanted a ‘role’ in the Hamilton Punk scene.

That led to me paying even more attention at Punk shows, and writing about my experience when I got home.

If you cut to the present, I write on here and Facebook, I have a zine with my friend, and I write for Monkeybiz.ca.

It’s great, because I used to feel like my writing would never be out where people would see it.

Why The Name Made Of Steeltown?

I know nobody asked, but I’m dying to tell the story of the name of this blog. And the name under which Thunder is published on paper.

When people are told they are tough, they are often told they are ‘Made of steel.’.

But being from Hamilton, and a person who tries to absorbs alot, I like to think I am ‘Made Of Steeltown.’

Obviously, anybody is half of their biological mother’s DNA, half their biological father’s.

But I think I’m composed of that and more.

I consider so many little parts of Hamilton to be a part of me. St Joseph’s Hospital, because I was born there. Gage Park. Our libraries. Defasco and Stelco. Ottawa Street. Homegrown Hamilton. This Ain’t Hollywood. King Street. The Casbah. Hammer City Records. James Street. Crash Landing. Dr Disc. Books And Beats. Our wonderful music, from every genre.

And the people. I can’t say enough about how great they are.

Everything above has helped me become who I am in one way or another. And I hope to reflect that in both life and writing.

How I Got Into Punk Rock. Conclusion.

And now, the conclusion as to what brought me to the present.

After hearing ‘American Idiot’; and deciding to be a ‘Punk’, I started hanging with my one Punk friend. And researching the genre. Whether by spending a few hours on a library computer, asking my parents what they knew, or reading the books that had been written on the subject.

Green Day was no longer the only band I was listening to. I started listening to what little Punk my parents had, and I listened intently to the ‘Alternative’ radio stations. That led to alot of (home-made) mixtapes with everything from Billy Idol to Teenage Head.

Around the time I was 15, I was getting alot of crap from certain members of the church for the whole Punk thing.  (Apparently; a knee-length kilt, a Green Day shirt, dyed red hair, Converse, and bad-mouthing the U.S was a no-no. I soon quit.)

That led to the Goth phase and that  lasted for 3 years. (I still listen to the music, but I am totally devoted to the Punk scene at this point.)

I remember exactly how I fell back in love with Punk, and how I actually got into the scene here in Hamilton.

It was a June day, and I was visiting Crash Landing. As I leaving, the owner Suzanne Kirkwood, handed me a flyer. She told me there was going to be something called a ‘Punk Rock Matinee’ that weekend at a place called the Casbah.

I took the flyer, thanked her, and left. All could think was how weird this sounded. I knew what Punk Rock was, and I knew what a matinee was, but throw them together? What the hell was that?

I finally decided to go. I figured if it’s sh*t, I don’t have to go again.

But after I made the decision to go, I started to get nervous. I read books, and I listened to ‘Ongoing History Of New Music.’  I knew Punk could get down-right violent!

I honestly thought I was going to die. The pit would crush me, the lead singer would have glass shards like Iggy and stab me….

But curiousity prevailed. I am not lying when I tell you I felt a tug and knew I had to go.

I was one of the first people there, and it was quiet. I met someone who introduced himself as Randy,  and we talked a little. He assured me that the place would fill up, and I seriously doubted him.

But I shouldn’t have. The Casbah was soon packed with Punks, and I was gladly proven wrong. Even if I didn’t know that many people, it felt great to see people that looked a little like me.

From the time the first band ,(out of 4 or 5 that would play in a row), went on and I moshed, I knew something.

Wherever this music was, I was supposed to be there too.

Oh, and everything was fine. No one died, and there was no danger.

Today, I am so glad I went to that first show. Punk and the people within it have given me so many things: Wonderful friends. Great music. A place to belong. Something to contribute to.

But mostly, Punk has given me a second home.

How I Got Into Punk Rock. Part 2.

And now to continue my brilliant story. (I know everyone was waiting with bated breath.)

Just kidding. But to seriously pick up where I left off, I had just heard Green Day. And my mind was blown. I think I was even in some kind of reverie, because the next thing I knew, the song had ended and my Mom was yelling for me.

I quickly shut off my stereo and rushed downstairs.

“What was all that noise just now?” she demanded. “You’re supposed to be doing school-work.”

That noise?!? That had been awesome! I HAD to find out more about the band.

As part of your studies when you’re homeschooled, you are required to spend time at the library. I loved it because we didn’t have a computer at home, and at the library I had access to one.

While my Mom was helping my brother, I skeeved off once again. (I was such a bad student then!)

I looked up Green Day in a search engine, and found out alot about them. I also found out they were associated with Punk. I knew what the word meant vaguely, because of some of the bands my parents listened to. I wanted to find out more, but Mom was coming back over. And I was supposed to researching something.

Back in 2002, Center Mall had a CD store called Music World. And not long after I heard the band, I went to the store to find the CD that contained ‘Basketcase.’

My trip was successful, and I brought home ‘Dookie.’ Further trips yielded their other CDs, and I listened to nothing but Green Day for 2 years straight.

2004 was a big year. I was 14, and I didn’t know it, but my life was going to change.

Now, this might surprise some people, but I used to go to church. I am spiritual to this day, but I believe in evolution and women’s rights.

Anyway, I had found a Punk at my church. He didn’t dress the part, but he had amazing music. Especially the latest Green Day album, ‘American Idiot.’

He didn’t get the chance to lend me his copy, but I knew to be on the look out for the CD. And after church, we had shopping to do, and I grabbed a copy.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when I popped it in the CD player at home. It was searing, it was pissed, and said what I was thinking.

While I was listening, I decided two things:

-That I was devoting myself to this Punk Rock thing.

-And that I was going to embrace being the outsider I had felt like my whole life.

How I Got Into Punk Rock. Part 1.

This post was inspired by Mr! Erik, of the Hamilton Punk band Wiggler!?! And The Tiny Humans, and his new blog. (He’s actually on wordpress at: mistererik.wordpress.com.)

He was talking about how he became part of Punk’s vast, varied family, and it gave me an idea for a story.

I don’t often talk about how I entered the Punk Rock domain. I might tell bits and pieces of my story, but not much more than that.

I actually grew up listening to a little Punk. My Mom is a big Billy Idol fan, and my Dad likes quite a few Punk bands. From local heroes Teenage Head and Forgotten Rebels, to the Clash and the Pretenders.

But they listened to the group or artists most well-known song. And Punk wasn’t their first genre of choice. My Mom is a lite-rock and Pop fan first, and my Dad is devoted to Classic Rock.

While I listen to a mix of music now, including music that my parents do, when I was 12 I was getting bored. Call it pretentious, but I felt like the ‘music’ I was hearing on the radio at home was garbage.  And I was too good for it.

Now, so you can get a picture of that fateful day, you need to know 2 things about me. I was homeschooled. And, I had a cool hand-me-down from my Dad. His stereo from the 80’s, that had two tape decks, a CD player, and a ton of volume.

That day, I was supposed to be doing my school-work. But I was fiddling with the dial, wishing as I often did for something cool to listen to.

And that was to be the day, I suppose. I landed on a station that was swearing that somebody’s version of the up-coming song wasn’t as good as this original.

I sat there in awe. The vocals were clear, yet kind of weird. The tempo was like being on a manic roller-coaster. The guitar  soared like nothing since the Rebels. The drums were pounding like the ones in war movies. And the bass, pinned underneath, kept what little sanity this track had.

According to the DJ’s, I had just heard Green Day’s ‘Basket Case.’