I found myself this St. Patty’s Day at The Artery: a remote, cozy and surprisingly professional little venue on the quiet end of Jasper Ave. The place had solid acoustics and the show’s sound was run more than adequately. I think a few of this city’s venues could learn a thing or two from The Artery. But on to the gig.
I was brought to the event for a couple of reasons: One, the opportunity to experience a venue I had not yet been acquainted with and, two, the headliner’s band title. Medical Pilot. It had a good ring to it. I had no idea what to expect from either the venue or the event, and although I was fairly impressed by the venue, the acts have a long way to go.
I’m not about to disregard the individual groups completely. In the context of the wide spectrum of shows I’ve had to review, these bands were lacking on several points that I will elaborate on in a moment. However, in order to give credit where credit is due I must take into account that these were a bunch of high school kids playing for their friends. In that context, the show was everything it needed to be, especially when it came to the headliner Medical Pilot. The kids, both onstage and offstage had a good time, and as long as that was the goal of the evening, everything worked out.
Medical Pilot, and especially its lead guitarist, were acutely aware of this goal. There were no delusions of grandeur and they frequently pointed out their mistakes, which were frequent, and laughed at them. My personal favorite part of the evening was when the lead guitarist and part time vocalist admitted that he had not finished lyrics on a particular song and went to the little boy’s room to seek inspiration from stall graffiti. What he found was so perfect: We are all gone/ Your band sucks/ My band sucks/ Have a good time. I loved it. It was one of the most pure punk-rock moments I’ve seen in years.
I’m not saying that these guys couldn’t play. In fact I found their original material to be quite fun and I look forward to hearing their 4 song EP. The problem? They only had about 6 original songs spread over an hour. Their most potent track of the night was their cover of Blitzkrieg Bop, which instigated a genuine mosh-pit among the 70 something attendees. Most of the time, however, they spent covering Blink 182. They even chose some of Blink’s flaccid new material, causing small segments to arise in their act that felt like boring filler. Even in the context of high school kids playing for their friends, being boring is an unforgivable crime. Luckily for Medical Pilot, they kept their set fun and engaging for most of it.
I enjoyed From the Sky Down well enough, in spite of their guitarists heavy reliance on the styles of U2′s The Edge, but Heroes Start Here need a lot of work. I think the worst part of watching their set, for me, was that I could tell that they all had talent, but seemed to water it down. Both the bassist and drummer were more then competent at playing their instruments, and yet none of their songs seemed to have much rhythm. There was a point when the lead singer mentioned they were going to take the tempo down a bit for a slower song, but that song didn’t seem to be much different from their “faster” material. It all seemed really slow. The material lacked vision or energy, and it didn’t help much that their excellent lead guitarist’s Slash-like solos didn’t seem to fit anywhere giving them an inorganic cut-and-paste feel.
I wish all these kid the best of luck, and hope that they can fine-tune their individual sounds as their tastes continue to mature. They’ll need to if they ever expect to make it past the 70 something friends who showed up at The Artery Saturday night.
-Eric T. Behr