By: Luke Ottenhof –
Billy Talent’s “Dead Silence Tour,” which has torn from coast to coast for the past month, stopped into the nation’s capital last night to perform at Scotiabank Place, but not without its share of changes.
The much-hyped venture featured alt.-rock headliners Billy Talent, Ajax punk heroes Sum 41, Hollerado, and Barrie’s lo-fi grunge duo Indian Handcrafts, but after Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley reactivated his back injury, which stems from suffering a herniated disc in 2007 and a slipped disc in 2010, they pulled out of the tour before its stop in Quebec City on April 11. Billy Talent then hastedly announced Canadian rock buzz band Monster Truck as Sum 41’s replacement for the rest of the tour.
Billy Talent ignited the Scotiabank Place with the woefully eery “Lonely Road to Absolution” before blasting into “Viking Death March,” the lead single from last September’s Dead Silence. The album had hefty representation, as seven tracks found their way onto the setlist, including encore “Surprise Surprise.”
Frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz offered some choice words on the Sum 41 situation.
“Deryck just fucked off and headed home,” he said between songs. He spoke high praises for all the openers, particularly fill-ins Monster Truck.
Guitar Ian D’Sa’s melodic string play has always been a focal point, and even amid the scorching fretwork, he offered pinpoint harmonies to Kowalewicz’s crazed, feral screams.
Kowalewicz was a force of nature. As charismatic and lively as they come, he was electric during their set, bounding back and forth to pump up an already fierce crowd.
This year marks the 20th anniversary for D’Sa, Kowalewicz, bassist Jon Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk. A decade since their self-titled label debut, Billy Talent is still a well-oiled machine, and proved they are arena-worthy. Despite a handful of empty seats scattering Scotiabank Place, Billy Talent didn’t falter a smidge, and as usual they brought their A-game.
Barrie-based grunge duo Indian Handcrafts burst into Soundgarden-influenced riffing and blistering vocals. drummer Brandyn Aikins and guitarist Daniel Allen whipped through a grinding set that included several tracks from their 2012 debut album Civil Disobedience for Losers including “Red Action” and “Bruce Lee,” along with an impressive cover of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”
Swooping in right after were hometown heroes Hollerado, who grew up together just outside of Ottawa in Manotick. The cool pop-rockers looked about as starry-eyed and giddy as some of the fans did. “We’re playing the frigging Sens arena!” shouted lead singer/guitarist Menno Versteeg with an ear-to-ear grin. “Thank you guys very much for getting us here.”
“Last time I was here, I got kicked out by security,” chimed in drummer Jake Boyd, recalling last year’s Juno Awards ceremony.
Fusing the energy of 90s-era Weezer, the melodies of Dookie-era Green Day and memorable lyrics, Hollerado’s set featured an eclectic mix of old and new material from both their 2009 breakthrough album Record in a Bag and their new album White Paint, including “Pick Me Up,” “Americanarama,” “So It Goes” and their hit single “Juliette.”
Enter fresh-faced Monster Truck. In the past year, NHL ’13 featured the Hamilton-based shaggy-haired rockers on its soundtrack, they celebrated their first-ever Juno Award nomination for breakthrough group of the year, and now they can cross off their first arena tour off their checklist.
With a fantastic blast of classic ‘70s rock and roll, their performance marked their first show on the tour, and their biggest to date. The bearded quartet shot the sounds and feeling back about 30 years, and it was a welcome shift; singer Jon Harvey’s rich growl was the stuff of legends.