Concert Review: Across The Wasteland | Newmarket | 11.19.16.

Photos & Review by R. Taunton and K. Sullivan

A night that truly showcased the nerdy side of the hardcore/punk community. The Super Smashed Bros show was a modest success that was greatly enjoyed by all.

Chrysalism

For Fans Of: The Pretty Reckless, Nothing but Thieves, Lady Gaga

The first band of the night was Chrysalism, a two-piece band from Toronto consisting of Nicholas Catalano and Natalie Puchalski. When asked about the name of the band, Natalie said “It technically is related to the tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. The idea of having this tension all around you, but having a place where you can remain safe and calm is the reason as to why the word really resonated with us. For a long time, I’ve found music to be one of the only things that’s given me peace in an otherwise pretty tension-filled and stressful life, and that word best reflects how I feel about music”.

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Natalie and Nick have been playing together for years, performing a variety of different styles of music before forming Chrysalism, and they both seem very at home and comfortable with each other and on stage. On stage Natalie is relaxed and confident and commands attention with her jazzy, heavy voice and her attempts to engage the crowd. Nicholas is very confident in his guitar skills, and both artists display their comfort with each other through eye-contact and good use of the stage space. As for the music played, the songs contain interesting and commanding baselines, and the vocal range uses Natalie’s Taylor Momsen-like voice to invoke emotion in the listeners. The combination of pre-recorded music and live contributions aided the differing degrees of heaviness and made the overall listening experience interesting. The lyrics of the final song, a cover of Artpop by Lady Gaga, seemed to be in conflict with the instrumentals, though the obvious enjoyment of the experience by the band members made this a very minor criticism.

V For Mania

For Fans Of: Nirvana, Sum 41, Billy Talent

The second band up was V for Mania, a four-piece punk band from Toronto. The lead singer is also the guitarist and the vocals are backed up by two other members. The music has a very old style punk/garage band feel, helped along by the heavily percussion lead sound. The bands influences include Sum 41, Billy Talent and Nirvana and the vocals and instrumentals reflect this. The songs had the same upbeat tempo, but each sounded unique and different from the last.

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The band seemed very comfortable on stage and made good eye contact with the audience. Something that really stood out and showed the level of comfort the band has with performing their music, was when the lead’s strings broke and he calmly and swiftly fixed it without it really affecting the overall feel of the performance. The guitarists moved in sync which added to the professional performer feel and kept the audience interested. Though the vocalists seemed talented, the instrumentals drowned them out for a decent part of the set.

The Wet Bandits

For Fans Of: Weezer, Like Pacific, The Front Bottoms

The third band of the night was The Wet Bandits, a very fun, engaging band who resembled a group of nerdy dads, but in the best way. An interesting thing about this band is they had two main vocalists and one harmonizing vocalist. The members had great chemistry and really seemed to enjoy the performance experience. The four-piece male group from Toronto had incredible stage presence and commanded attention between and during songs. The energetic dancing during the performance got the crowd on their feet and made the stage look much too small, indicating that a large venue performance would not be difficult to tackle for this group. The set was kept interesting by the varying tempos and baselines, and I personally loved the similarities to Sum 41.

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Arbors Lane

For Fans Of: Paramore, Tonight Alive, Courage my Love

The fourth band to take the stage was five-piece Arbors Lane, from Woodbridge, Ontario. The band members display great family bonds, which was demonstrated in their group cheer at the beginning of their set. The band has a strong stage presence and the singer, Jenny Nguyen, commands attention. Jenny is confident in her abilities as both a singer and a performer and she uses this to engage the crowd through both banter ad encouraging participation in songs. Her constant movement shows the emotion in the songs and the general love for what she’s doing, and despite her energetic movement, Jenny’s voice does not waver.

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The band as a whole provides an effortless performance and their comfort and relaxed demeanours on stage made the stage seem too small, showing that they could perform in large venues with little issue. The transition between songs was smooth and included audience banter. There was great variety in the tempo, baselines, and lyrics of the songs, though vocals on softer songs were a little difficult to hear. This concert was the second time I have seen this band perform in the last two months and I can confidently say that they have grown as performers even in this short time period. They are also very thankful for the audience’s presence, and thanked them multiple times for being there.

Across the Wasteland

For Fans Of: Marianas Trench, Faber Drive, the 1975

The final, headlining band was a three-piece pop rock band from Toronto, Across the Wasteland. Though a small group, they have the sound of a much bigger one as each member helps by incorporate many different instruments. The unofficial drummer of the band was incredibly talented, though he occasionally drowned out the lead vocals. Very clear influences for this band include bands such as Marianas Trench and the 1975, the style of their new album, ‘Echoes’, was very similar to Marianas Trench’s, ‘Ever After’, especially in the last song, Until Next Time, which incorporates pieces of every song on the album. The songs contained similar elements while retaining a unique sound. The background tracks helped the songs stay interesting and fun and the video game-themed song, RPG (Role Playing Groove), added an extra dorky element which every punk has in their soul. This song also incorporated the theme of the night, Super Smashed Bros. The acoustic song they performed, Satellites, showcased the lead’s vocal range, which was otherwise difficult to hear over the instrumentals, but when unaccompanied shows unpolished, raw emotion. This also made the show seem more relaxed and casual, as everyone took a seat and simply enjoyed the campfire vibes, which seemed to relax the band as well as entertain the audience.

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The guitarists had coordinating vests which added to the dorky, loveable persona of the band. All of the members seemed to have a sweet and genuine personality, which was showcased by the addition of one of their friends, Brian for a song. They were proud of they accomplishments and thankful for the people who came to their first show. Overall, the band seemed confident in their performance abilities, especially considering this was their first show. Despite technical difficulties, the band seemed to enjoy the experience and seems eager to grow as performers and do it all again.

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