Myself (I’m the goof with my eyes closed) with both Darrow Chemical Company & Black Cat Attack
August 13, 2015
Call The Office (London, Ontario, Canada)
Darrow Chemical Company
Black Cat Attack
Welcome fiends and ghouls everywhere to the first (hopefully of many in the future) edition of They’re aLive here on The Deadhouse! This is our first Live Concert review ever, so the format may change as it evolves.
Having been a fan of both Darrow Chemical Company and Black Cat Attack for a few years now, when I heard that my fellow Canadian horrorpunks were bring Darrow up from New Jersey for their first Canadian tour, I just about lost my mind at the announcement. I should make it clear that the home base of The Deadhouse (London, Ontario, Canada) does not get frequent horrorpunk shows. But thanks to the success that Black Cat Attack has had touring in the US, they have started doing the Devil’s work and are bringing bands up to this area to tour that would never hit up here otherwise. Earlier this year they brought up The Jasons but unfortunately due to some health issues, I was unable to make it out to the show. So clearly when it was announced that they were bringing up Darrow I did everything in my power to make sure I was able to attend, and allow me to start by saying how glad I am I was able to make it to the show.
Playing at Call The Office, which is essentially the best place in town for smaller rock bands to play, I should note that this was my first time at CTO in several years, but it is a great place for a punk show as it is a little rundown, and has that beat-up old club vibe. In the past I have seen several bands at CTO with some standout shows being Agnostic Front and Horrorpops. Over the years many great bands have played at CTO at one point or another, so it does have a rather large history. In fact, when speaking with JV Bastard after the show he commented on how he dug the club as many of his favorite bands had played there. But enough about the venue, let’s talk about the music!
Opening the show was The Burnouts, who I unfortunately missed almost their entire set. I did catch some of their set in my periphery, and what I did hear sounded loud and fast, two things everyone loves. Unfortunately I cannot comment much more on their performance, but I can say it seemed they got people started for a live night of great music. Following their performance, Thirty Helens took to the stage for some more punk rock. Neither of the two opening bands were horrorpunk based, but I can say that Thirty Helens were certainly impressive, and I dug and was well entertained during their set, with a standout moment being a song screaming out about “racist homophobic assholes”. And anytime you are insulting those kind of people, I’m all in.
Once the two opening bands wrapped up, it was time for Darrow Chemical Company to take to the stage. At this point I should mention that Call The Office is by no means the biggest club around, and due to the show being on a Thursday night as opposed to a Friday or Saturday, the turnout for the show wasn’t exactly what one could call the biggest. But you sure as hell wouldn’t know that by the insane amount of energy that both Darrow and BCA brought to the stage (not taking anything away from the openers as they were bringing it as well).
Once Darrow Chemical Company hit the stage, they got down and dirty without hesitation. Pounding through their discography, the band knows how to throw together a set list that hits all of their best songs, including some personal favorites such as Better Dead Than Wed and Full Moon Rising (from A Nightmare On Seventh Avenue, check out our Stereo Terror review here), as well as Plastic Smile and He Said, She Said (off of Plastic Smile, review here). I was also able to grab a full video of Nowhere To Run which you can check out below (the video was taken on my phone so the quality isn’t the greatest, especially the video but the audio is pretty solid). During one of the very few breaks the band takes between songs, frontman J.V. Bastard actually took the time to announce to the crowd that the big guy hanging out right at the stage (your friendly neighborhood Mister Gore) as the first Canadian Darrow Chemical Company fan, which was a rather surreal experience for me personally as at this point I had actually yet to meet J.V. in person. Another personal highlight came during my favorite Darrow song, W.H.B. when J.V. pulled me in at the front of the stage with his mic in my face to help out with the Whoa-ohs. While it was clear many (and by many, I mean likely 98% of the people in attendance at the show) were not familiar with the band coming in, it is undoubtedly certain that a bunch of new Darrow Chemical Company fans were made on the hot, sweaty night of the concert. I also need to say how on point everyone in the band was with the performance. Guitarists Loki and Dean, bassist Mikey Wasted and drummer Matt Johnson all came together and were completely in sync with one another and J.V.. All I can say, is if there was ever a moment where someone in the band wasn’t on the same page, you wouldn’t have the slightest clue based on how tight the band seemed to be.
Following Darrow‘s set, the headlining act, Canada’s favorite horrorpunk band Black Cat Attack took to the stage. BCA were actually down a member, as guitarist Sweet Gravy Brown was unable to make the show due to prior commitments, but the band came with a backup plan in place. Darrow Chemical Company guitarist Dean pulled double duty filling in for the missing Brown, joining drummer Ari O’Speeddragon, bassist/vocalist Bryan Dickface and guitarist/vocalist Valerie Knox to finish the job of tearing down the house that the opening acts and Darrow started earlier in the evening. Despite the fact that the band was missing one of its members, you would think that might set them off a bit, but you’d be wrong. Right from the get-go BCA were completely on point, with the screaming vocals from Dickface sounding crisp as hell and being the perfect ying to the yang that are the vocals from the lovely Knox. The band, just like Darrow before them, have a great stage presence and took the entire club into the palm of their hands and made sure that every single person in the building was in the thralls of some kick ass horrorpunk. If I had to describe in two words how the bands set went, I think I would have to use “Super Radical” (and yes, there is an inside joke here). Again I was able to catch video of a full song performance, and embedded below is the video for Death Punk Prowl (from Vamparty, which you can find as one of the very first reviews from 2013 here). Other highlights from the set include Conquer Destroy Exterminate and an absolutely insane performance of my personal favorite BCA song Killing Spree At Zero Gravity (both from Bright Side Of The Moon, and you can check out our review here) that completely blew me away.
In the end, I can safely say that this was truly the most fun I’ve had in years, not just at a show, but overall. On a more personal note, the way that both Darrow Chemical Company and Black Cat Attack greeted me and treated me as a friend and as an equal is something that I will never forget, and I cannot thank them enough. Anyone who is in the horror music scene knows that at times there is a lot of drama that flies around, but what really matters is that we are a horror family. And both bands treated me like we were equals and family, and that is one of the biggest reasons I love this scene, the music and the people. When I started The Deadhouse back in 2013 it was to start spreading the word about the bands in the scene and help bring in new fans that might not know these bands otherwise, and Thursday, August 13th 2015 showed me that it has made a difference, and the work is appreciated. And I couldn’t possibly ask for more.
If you ever get a chance to see any of the bands on this bill, please, do me and yourself a favor, and make sure that you do not miss it under any circumstances. I know I won’t be missing any shows in the future unless something catastrophic happens.
Be sure to stay up to date with the bands on their Facebook pages. Check out Thirty Helens, Darrow Chemical Company and Black Cat Attack
(my apologies to The Burnouts as I do not have a link to their Facebook profile at this time).