All Ages Metal FestAugust 15th, 2003, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Review by JP (Co-host of Megawatt Mayhem)
Line-up: Radio Chaos, Plague, Blood Stained Knife, Omega Crom, Paracidic, Passado,
Conch, Divinity, Thorazine.
I dont write a lot of live reviews because if you have missed the show there is
not much point in my mind. With reviewing a tour, others could read the review and perhaps
decide to buy tickets for their hometown but a festival is a once in a lifetime thing, so
it defeats the purpose of a conventional review. However, documenting an event like a
Metal Festival can be very important historically for three reasons. To encourage fans to
attend live shows, to encourage other bands to play in future festivals and finally for
all the talent scouts that are out there! Accordingly my comments are more about my
overall impression than a critical analysis of individual bands performances. I hope
people will take the time to check out all the individual bands mentioned.
The promoter and organizer, known only as Andrew, is a young dude with balls of steel.
He put together on very short notice what was the largest event of this kind in Calgary
for many, many years. He just decided to do it and without a lot of help, money or
experience he did what many have merely talked about. He is to be fully congratulated and
hopefully he will be involved with the next one.
Bridgeland Community is slated for destruction and has a sense of metallic history in
Calgary so it was fitting that this big ol empty hall was the setting. The venue had
a small concession run by friends and family, a few volunteers, a high stage and the back
wall had tables for the bands merchandise. Nothing fancy but for over a dozen bands for
$15.00 it was extremely good value.
Lets get the bad out of the way early. Logistically, Andrew needed a bit more
experience in dealing with musicians. The line-up changed by my count five times! This is
not his fault as bands cancelled at the last minute, some were added on at the last
minute, time-slots changed leaving many fans confused and frustrated as to who was on
when. The event suffered from lack of adequate promotion leaving an empty hall at 1:00pm
when the first band was getting ready to go. Making a hard but virtually necessary
decision, the entire show was delayed three hours.
I blame some of the bands and I will name them. The second, third, fifth, tenth and
thirteenth bands on the bill; Tempered, Red Hot Lovers, Timeless, Sitting Idol and One-900
all cancelled at the last minute. This is completely unacceptable. It is a betrayal to the
promoter who worked hard to give them exposure and more importantly a betrayal of the
under-18 fans who paid to see them. The fourteen-band bill was quickly chopped to nine and
consequently the schedule was doomed from the first minute. If the singer of Thorazine can
bust his ass, take a bus for almost four hours for a journey of over 300km to be on time,
the local Calgary bands who came up with stupid, unacceptable excuses like I
couldnt get off work should be ashamed. Omega Crom drove all night from
another province to there on time and some bands could not get off their asses to be on
time for a 20 minute drive across town. The lousy attitude and selfish behavior of these
bands left a bad taste in the mouth of the fans. They may consider themselves lucky if
they get another chance to play at an event of this size.
By 4:00pm it was time to get going. Special mention should go to Rogan. He was the very
first fan in the door. He not only made a donation but he stayed upfront for almost every
band and supported the bands buy buying merchandise. He was the #1 fan of the festival in
my mind. I was pleased to see the crowd was a nice mixture of guys and girls. The ladies
were not just girlfriends but actual female fans who came out to have a good time. The
stage was set and the soundmen were doing the best they could with what they had to work
4:00 RADIO CHAOS (punk)
RC might just well go down as the first band to play the largest All-Ages Metal Fest in
Calgarys history. This very, very young four-piece was very inexperienced and
announced themselves to be more punk than metal. They ran through six tunes including a
Green Day cover and a Nirvana cover. I admire their courage and every band has to start
somewhere. The crowd of 25 people was small but supportive of these first timers. A bit
more practice and a few more shows will calm the nerves and they look like will have fun
in the future. They had a small kit so the change over was very quick.
4:30 PLAGUE (Death)
Plague ripped into a tight set of primitive death metal with a decent death-rock vibe.
The bass tone reminded this old timer of the NWOBHM band Raven and the lack of competent
solos kinda irked me. By now the crowd had swelled to about 40 and it was good to see
everyone up at the front. After being to so many club shows were jaded metalheads stand at
the back sucking brews it was good to see a mini-mosh pit! The following bands had
cancelled so Plague played almost a double set. It seemed to drag on a bit and Id
like to see a bit more variety in the composition and arrangements of the songs. A decent
and entertaining band.
Next came along, long break as the schedule was changed, re-changed and bands were
called in early to compensate for the bands who just could not be bothered to show up.
This long break hampered the flow of the show. This long delay might have been overcome
but a funny (sad) thing happened. The DJ decided to play some mallcore band while Plague
was taking down their gear. (I later found out it was a band called Rage Against the
Machine) Every single person left the hall. Im not joking.
It might have been coincidence but I fell it was obviously the repulsive mallcore that
drove everyone outside. No word of a lie, the kids all streamed out of there like rats on
fire deserting a sinking ship, leaving only myself and the two concession ladies in the
And then it went from bad to worse. The DJ had left the disc on track
repeat so I had to endure the song again! I couldnt leave as I was tending my
merchandise booth. I was trapped! (Fortunately whenever I venture into the public I take a
supply of gag-suppressant pills in case mallcore befouls my ears. Good thing I had lots of
pills!) Then the DJ came back and I thought to myself, Oh good! He has realized his
horrible mistake, feels responsible for driving away 100% of the audience and is going to
change the CD. How wrong I was. He merely took the disc off track repeat!
. It was going to be a long afternoon. It was living hell sitting inside by
myself on a beautiful, sunny, summer day forced to hear (by default, not actively
listening) utter crap. I even put in my earplugs but that didnt help. I felt aurally
The only positive point of this long break by myself is I had a chance to reflect and I
now have some faint hope for the future of our youth. Moments ago they were moshing to
death metal and they bailed at the first strains of the rap-rock that filled the room.
Maybe there is hope for the future after all. Somebody must have said something to him
because for the rest of the night the tunes were a mix of power metal (Rhapsody, Blind
Guardian) Thrash (Soilwork) and Black Metal (Dimmu Borgir) so everyone was happy and hung
around inside while bands set up and tore down.
6:30 BLOOD STAINED KNIFE (Power/Thrash)
By now the kids who had got off work had arrived and the demographic of the crowd had
changed quite a bit. Older kids, mostly male and there were fewer Korn and Slipknot
shirts. At first I was worried as BSK came to the stage. Three of the four guys looked
like Vanilla Ice (or Criss-Cross or something) with the baggy jeans slung real low to show
their underwear, lots of dangling chains, short spiky hair
not a pretty sight. The
bassist looked like the quintessential prog-dude with a long pony tail, short beard and a
vintage 1976 Rush shirt. They sound checked to a Slayer cut so I was very relieved it
wasnt going to be rap-rock!
BSK were tight, energetic death metal with hints of thrash and whats that I
!? A guitar solo!! Awesome. I only had to wait six hours at a metal fest to hear
a decent solo! The crowd had grown to about 50 people and the band got the best response
of the festival so far. The bassist took the mike as BSK ripped into a version of
Maidens The Trooper reminding me a bit of the Sentenced version, namely
faster and heavier. Three guys shared vocal duties and the drummer hammered on his china
like there was no tomorrow. Very entertaining!
7:15pm OMEGA CROM (Power/Thrash) www.omegacrom.com
This Vancouver five piece was the buzz band of the show with not many knowing what to
expect but having heard many good things about the singers inhuman vocal prowess. Fresh
out of the van after a long drive from Regina on their Western Canadian tour Omega Crom
were my favorite act of the night. Not afraid to sing or play guitar Omega Crom were tight
and very professional. They had excellent stage presence and actually announced their
songs, and interacted with the crowd. They had cool spoken word intros, lots of atmosphere
created by interesting song arrangements and tempo changes. They were the most
European and metal sounding band of the night as evidenced by
their ripping cover of Priests, Painkiller. They were crushingly heavy and fast with
tons of rippy solos but the highlight were the vocals. Imagine a man with the range and
power of Halford and King Diamond, the baritone of Fernado Riberia of Moonspell and the
death shrieks of Devin Townsend. Simply astonishing. Omega Crom does with one vocalist
that most bands do with two or three. Tight and pro, these are the guys to watch.
9:00pm PARACIDIC (Modern Metal) www.paracidic.com
Rumoured to be enjoying vast amounts of recreational pharmaceuticals and festive malt
beverages BEFORE the show the band buzzed through a sloppy (in a good way) set of modern
down-tuned type aggro-rock. They had lots of props and a charismatic and engaging frontman
who was exuberant and enthusiastic, even though his Anselmo inspired yell/shout style of
vocals with a rap cadence was not to my liking. The drummer was a maniac just hammering
probably the hardest hitter of the night. The show tended to drag on
because there was not a lot of diversity in the songs. Many fans (and upcoming bands) had
hoped the band would cut their set short as the festivals was already hours behind
schedule and curfews for some of the younger fans was looming as anxious parents kept
peeking their heads in the door. Unfortunately this was lost on the semi-inebriated band
as they exceed their time and the crowd thinned noticeably to about 20 people. They ended
with a fairly derivative Il Nino and Sepultura based tribal drum thing that was like a
copy of Stomp (those guys who hits pots and pans with brooms and stuff).
10:15pm PASSADO (Modern Metal) www.passadoband.com
This veteran local four piece was an obvious crowd pleaser as the crowd came rushing
back in when they started. Many bands claim to be heavier and faster live but Passado
deliver. By now the lack of lights started to hamper the show as the poor band had to,
load, tune and play in almost total darkness. They were tight and dynamic and there was
another noticeable increase in the age of the crowd with more death metal shirts filtering
in. The band had a decent mix of clean guitar, funky interludes and lots of drum and bass
driven tunes. They worked in more solos which also suited me. These guys are tight and
having been out east for a number of showcase gigs I would not be surprised if they are
signed quite soon.
11:00pm CONCH (Modern Metal) www.conch.ca
It was a shame that the scheduling was so messed up because the whole point of the All
Ages show was to give kids a chance to see great bands like Conch in safe, fun daytime
environment. Well, by 11:00pm most of the kids had to bail and catch busses and trains
home so the remaining acts did their best. Luckily the crowd that had dispersed out of the
hot hall came back in by the end of the first tune. Conch were a class act. They cut their
set short so the remaining bands could have a better time to play. They all had by far the
best merchandise with stickers, pins, a shot-glass, discs, shirts and more. Much like
Passado, Conch is heavier and faster live and for the first time in hours a moshpit swung
into action! The driving tunes with a slight hardcore edge got the crowd moving and the
band blasted through a short, tight set. A class act and fully pro, their extensive
touring of Canada has tightened up their live act.
12:00am DIVINITY (Thrash) www.divinity.8m.com
Divinity brought their own black-lights which cast an eerie glow over the dark
community hall, and just after the witching hour they ripped into a thrashtastic set. They
were probably the loudest band of the night with lots of licks and riffs driving the
thrashy songs along a great pace. The three previous bands were not as driven by guitar so
it was good to hear ripping fast solos with lots of shred. Divinity are not the Quebec
Black Metal band but play a mean breed of heavy modern thrash; mostly tunes of their disc
Intensify. The songs truly were intensified. The crowd was fading but the band
raged on, also making the classy move of cutting things short out of respect for the
12:45am THORAZINE (Death) www.thorazine.ca
For the 30 or so remaining faithful, Thorazine, perhaps Calgary best known metal band
showed why they were the eventual headliners. Although originally slated to go on third
from last in the best time-slot the band showed class and played as hard and fast as ever.
Easily the heaviest and tightest band of the festival, the band (fronted by
Drifter who as mentioned earlier traveled for hours to be there) put to shame
the local bands who couldnt even be bothered to show up. They ripped out a brutal
set of crushing death with many hints of grindcore. As the night rolled on, people drifted
away as the fatigue was evident on the faces of the final few die-hards. Thorazine being a
world-calibre act didnt let that phase them and treated the crowd to a few new songs
from the their forthcoming CD, The Day The Ash Blacked Out The Sun. Great
songs, and another great performance from a great band.
The biggest all Ages show in Calgary, (perhaps ever) was a qualified success. Great
value, good performances all round, good variety of styles, and a good venue all
contributed to the success of the day. Under the circumstances I think the experience of
many of the bands could be described as paying your dues to small crowds who
might normally never get to see these bands. Congratulations to all the bands who played
That is what metal is all about; the blood, sweat and tears, frustration and fun all
that help form the unique bonds between the fans and the bands that comprise the
underground metal community. Hell, even Wacken started in their first year in a farmers
field with only 100 fans. The next All Ages Metal Fest in Calgary will be bigger and
better. I cant wait!