Zeroscape & Rehab For Quitters @ The Speakeasy
You know the bands are really good when you can ignore the fact that you've only had one drink, the people pushing you out of the way to take pictures, the drunks falling over and the feelings of sheer aloofness that ensue on a Saturday night at the Speakeasy. While the vibe was leaning a little towards weirdsville, I focused on the talent before me, struggling to ignore everything else that feverishly itched my brain.
Opening the night, Izinit brought gravelly vocals that carried traces of Creed, Godsmack, and countless alt-rock bands I've heard in no-name bars across the US, intertwined with the occasional backing rap vocals. The heavily processed guitars are the highlight, bringing sounds you can jump around to. Their songs are carefully constructed to craft a mood, then turn that mood upsidedown with the flick of a guitar pick. While the drummer flubbed a few beats, the set was a decent listen.
If there was ever a NEED for a cover band, it would have to be a Rage Against The Machine cover band. This makes sense as we can't possibly go out and hear Zach, Tom, Brad and Tim play live again; us diehard fans have to get our kicks somehow! When I first heard they'd be covering RATM songs, I had my doubts. But from the first song, I was amazed at how much the singer really DID sound like Zach De La Rocha! The guitarists also rocked out the solos like pros. For the most part, they looked like they had just stepped out of a computer lab, but the heart they displayed onstage encited a clamorous riot in the crowd. People sang along to classics like "Testify", "Ghost of Tom Joad", "Sleep Now In The Fire" and "Killin In The Name". They also unexpectedly threw in a hard rock cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin & Juice". The drunk girls were crazy for this band. In my mind, I was back in 1992 again with the release of Rage's self-titled debut.
Zeroscape has a rare knack for turning Bob Marley reggae, Slayer metal and Radiohead ambiance into a workable combination. "Ascension" builds a soul-lifting crescendo and plays with interlaced periods of chorus and distortion that feels really rewarding. Their guitar rhythms borrow from the golden early 90s years when bands like Sevendust, Korn and Godsmack rocked our world. I love the incorporation of ragga-style rap into some of the songs and ambiant jam nature of certain brief interludes. In addition to their intriguing sound, they've got a guitarist and singer that aren't afraid to hop up on a 4 ft speaker to play to the balcony crowd, a bassist who has explosive energy and a unique dance that's very much his own and a drummer who places his cymbals up very high so he has to stand to reach them. The first few songs were a little rocky as sound check got their act together and their vocal cords warmed up but they were just so good I forgot all about it by the third song. Zeroscape is a band that just needs to be experienced, period.
REHAB FOR QUITTERS
Flatt Eddy may have described Rehab For Quitters best when they dubbed them "the ultimate party band". They're proof that REAL punk rock is still alive and thriving in Toronto, with their Social Distortion looks and rocknroll punk sound. They have choruses that incite everyone with a beer in their hand to start singing. In many cases, beer gets spilled and foams all over everyone as the moshpit gets furious. They're into their second month with a new guitarist who seems to be fitting in perfectly. They keep the strumming up to a quick pace and the backing vocals seem to enter at all the right places. Always a tight sound, you'll never go home feeling bummed out after a Rehab For Quitters show.
About The Venue- THE SPEAKEASY:
The Sound: Yuck. The first song of everyone's set sounded like it was blaring out of a microphone held up to my laptop speakers. Expect to hear all high end and no low end. As a band, you may have a hard time hearing through the monitors. After some calibration, the noise was tolerable and the talent of the bands overpowered any irritation over sound quality but generally the large speakers look pretty but aren't so impressive.
The People: Located in a rather strange part of town, the Speakeasy (at 120 Church, near Richmond) takes the place of former metal hotspot Club Rockit. Naturally the crowd is really weird. You've got your 50-year-old long-haired men brandishing beard stubble, missing teeth, leather jackets and marijuana. Then you have an enormous populus of girls who can't hold themselves up or open their eyes fully. They manage to sway slowly to the music for a while before they get too drowsy and need to go home early. The scenesters are there with their punk rock hair, tattoos and piercings. If you look very carefully (think Where's Waldo here), you just might see a couple guys wearing frowns and turbans. The Hellz Kitchen Show guys might stop into their old stomping grounds too.
The Atmosphere: People are making out EVERYWHERE. After some recent revamping, The Speakeasy has become a rather cozy lounge. The upstairs boasts total VIP treatment with intimate booths, tables and chill areas. Everything seems to glow red under the sweating-hot lighting. It's fun to watch the bands from the upstairs railing because you get a bird's eye view of everything. The place is not too big and not too small and if I were to say I liked the place at all, it would be solely based on aesthetics.
The Drinks: Yeahhhh $6 mixed drinks... $5 beer.... hope you brought your creditcard.
Venue Rating: 2 / 5
1- I'd rather die than go to this pit of filth.
2- If you get me drunk enough I might like it
3- A decent night out but my headphones have better sound
4- Definitely rockin with killer sound
5- My lifeblood. Toronto's finest.
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