July was a great month for festivals, and the Addicted team managed to make it to several of them, the first of which being Big Music Fest.
This celebration of awesome rock music took place in Kitchener, Ontario, aka the home of the nicest people ever. Seriously, I couldn’t walk more than a few steps without being complimented, assisted, or generally treated in the most kind and welcoming way. For a Torontonian like myself, who’s more used to someone bumping into me on the street than offering me a helping hand, it was a refreshing change and a great way to start a day of incredible music.
We arrived at McLennan Park just in time to catch a few songs from The Glorious Sons. The Kingston natives have come a long way since that time I interviewed them in the basement of the Horseshoe Tavern. Now Brett Emmons, his brother Jay and their bandmates Andrew Young, Adam Paquette and Chris Huot have graduated from small clubs to huge stages, and will soon embark on their own headlining tour in support of their killer album The Contender. The boys treated their adoring crowd to new favorites as well as old, including “Heavy”, a song that thanks to editor Emy’s addiction is all too familiar to me, in the best way possible. I will however always be a diehard fan of the heartwarming and impossible NOT to sing along to “Mama”, and you can bet that my voice joined all those others in the park that day.
From new rock to the old classics, it was a treat to see Extreme take the stage. I’ve always known that guitarist Nuno Bettencourt was a great guitar player, because I have ears and have heard Exteme before, but seeing him live on stage – there’s just no comparison. To put it bluntly, MAN can this guy shred! While extended guitar trickery can seem a little masturbatory at times, it was just fine when Bettencourt was doing it during “Midnight Express”, his fingers a legitimate blur along the neck of that gorgeous guitar. He’s also got a voice on him, which he joined with singer Gary Cherone in everyone’s favorite romantic singalong “More than words”. While the song may be considered trite by some, seeing it played live, after singing along with it myself since I was a kid just learning about music was a goose bump inducing experience. Rumour has it the boys are going back into the studio to create some new tunes, and I for one can’t wait to see the results.
It’s always a pleasure to take in a set from Monster Truck, because you know they’ll always give it everything they’ve got, and this performance was no different. These guys have managed to evolve their sound with every album, getting tighter and slicker, while still retaining that powerful and guttural edge that sets them apart from their indie music peers. The boys pulled from their back catalogue but made sure their latest album Furiosity got its due, opening the set with my personal favorite “the Lion”. Old favorites like “Seven Seas Blues” and “Righteous smoke” were fantastic to hear. As always, we could count on Monster Truck to keep the crowd hot, happy and headbanging from start to finish.
Jane’s Addiction were probably the most visually entertaining band of the day. The eccentrically dress Perry Ferrell was the consummate showman, posing theatrically song after song. Dave Navarro, a guitar god in his own right was the picture of cool confidence and rock star glory. Fans around me were thrilled to watch their faves on stage, and I definitely perked up when the tunes I grew up loving were played, like “Been caught stealing”, “Stop”, and the set closing “Jane Says”.
And finally, my reason for being, Soundgarden took the stage. As always, the set was an incredible mix of songs old and new, spanning from 1987 to 2014. “Hunted Down” from Screaming Life met with “Taree” from King Animal, and a plethora of glory in between. An amazing surprise came with “Kyle Petty, Son of Richard” a killer Bside that probably only Emy and I recognized, but loved every moment of. It’s one of those songs I never thought I’d ever see live, but god bless these guys for knowing how to keep die-hard fans happy, despite playing a festival setting. And of course some songs Badmotorfinger made the cut, most notably the set closing “Slaves and Bulldozers”, a song that can make me weep with glee. Considering Soundgarden is the band that inspired me to not only fall in love with music, but write about it as well, it’s always a surreal and completely blissful experience to be in a crowd, surrounded by fans and the music that moves me more than anything in this world.