Words By: Gerrod Harris
On Wednesday, October 1st, 2014, Buckcherry, along with show openers, Sons of Revelry, rocked the Phoenix Concert Theater in downtown Toronto. From 8pm to nearly 11, the fans at the Phoenix experienced a high octane performance from both bands.
Starting punctually at 8, Sons of Revelry took the stage. Originally from Brantford, Ontario, and almost unheard of to the small crowd spread out from the stage to the back bar, the band knew how to get the audience going. Their style of music was very blues inspired, while incorporating a hard rock flavor. The set was filled with excellent riffs, reminiscent of those by Jack White, paired with a punk rock style. Vocalist Toby Black’s voice was very gentle, but edgy when he needed it to be, creating juxtaposition between the vocals and the music in such a way which made their sound much more unique.
Sons of Revelry won a contest earlier in 2013, through the Monster Energy Drink Uproar Festival, which allowed them to tour with this summer’s festival, and through that they met Buckcherry. The two bands apparently got along really well and liked each other’s music, so Buckcherry invited them to open for them on their fall tour.
Sons of Revelry played for a full hour, which is impressive seeing as many small, but more established opening acts, seem to only get approximately 45 minutes. I quite enjoyed their entire set; I found the music was fresh, interesting to listen to, and they had a great sense of stage presence. However, I got the feeling that the audience only really got into it during their faster, more aggressive songs, or when they were called on by Black. He managed to get us to sing along and even participate in a call and response of the chorus of their slower, “Open Up Your Heart”. While sipping his beer, we called on him to chug it, and he gladly did so. This just goes to show just how much stage presence they had, for an opening act. I found it shocking how easily they could get the audience moving and cheering. Their sound quality was, also to my surprise, crystal clear. I’m accustomed to not hearing such clarity in both the vocals and instrumental parts, especially when distortion is in use. Overall, I was very happy with their performance.
Shortly following, at 9:30, Buckcherry took the stage to a much larger audience, who were no longer spread out, but rather pushed towards the front. They kicked off their set with “I Love the Cocaine” and this got everyone going. Their set was filled with hard rocking numbers, revolving around sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll; just what you would expect from them. They played all of their hits, including “Sorry”, “Lit Up”, and “Rescue Me”, among many others. They also played a few new tunes from their recent release, Fuck (including the title track, “Fuck” and “Say Fuck It”), and last year’s Confessions “Gluttony”.
Unfortunately, what stopped their set from being great was the quality of their sound: they were much louder, and their sound guy must have been having a bad day, as he did not mix their sound accordingly for their volume. It was hard to hear what lyrics vocalists Josh Todd was singing, and during most songs, it was near impossible to hear what one of the two guitar parts was playing. This was disappointing and surprising when compared to the quality of sound that Sons of Revelry had achieved.
However, what they lacked in their sound, they made up for in attitude and creating what I’d imagine to be the atmosphere in a hard rock bar in 1980’s LA. Middle fingers were flashed, drum sticks were twirled, pelvises were thrust, heads were banged, and profanity laden banter was expressed. Rock clubs, like the Phoenix, usually get such a great sound from bands of all styles under the rock umbrella, for this I don’t think the issue with the sound was the venue, but rather the mix. That being said, the venue certainly added to the atmosphere, and I fully believe all rock bands should go back to their roots and experience the thrill of a more intimate venue.
The entire set was extremely energetic. Josh can’t seem to ever stay still, and guitarist Stevie D had complete control over the right side of the stage. Occasionally though, the band would play a few filler songs, in order to prepare for the coming imminent work out they would receive from the next song. Even the filler songs got the audience all riled up. It was a good time to be had all around. The highlight of the show was the closing number before the encore: the band teased The Rolling Stone’s “Miss You”, which headed directly into an extended version of their hit, “Crazy Bitch”, featuring a bass solo, two guitar solos, and extra bridge section in which the audience sang most of the words with little help from Josh, and even side stepping choreography. All this paired with the raw, hard rock energy of “Crazy Bitch” clearly stood out from the rest of the set, and outshined the two song encore to immediately follow.
Ultimately, despite the poor sound, the atmosphere they achieved in their hour and a half long set made the show worth seeing; after all it is largely the atmosphere we seek when attending a concert, if we wanted perfect quality in the sound, we would stay home and throw on a record. Both Sons of Revelry and Buckcherry know how to put on a good show, and can really get a crowd going with their limitless energy and stage presence.