What happens when everything goes wrong in the middle of the tour in a foreign country? Maybe “everything” is a little bit of an exaggeration. But when the Australian Band Arcane Saints came to play in the Pawnshop that last Tuesday night, singer and guitarist Michael John’s voice was gone. Thanks to a cold he could not sing. Bassist Jim Luxford jumped in, his hair is falling over the mic, his voice is blending in with the rest of the music as if he was one of the instruments. Not an outstanding vocalist, not one where the voice is able to sneak into the last corner of the room, make its way into peoples bodies, make them dance, make them not forget that night. Luxford never claimed to be a singer.
Arcane Saints showed themselves from their pure instrumental side. They had no choice. They didn’t seem to have something special, their own handwriting, to put something new out there. People left the space in front of the stage empty, hid behind the bar stools or simply left. When drummer Sam Sablinskis tore apart the drum set with an outstanding solo he caught attention for the first five minutes. Until the mood changed into awkward. Until the rest of the band tried stopping his solo unsuccessfully.
After the show I watched their video. I wanted to know what they would actually would sound like. They just were touring China, having released two EPs and starting off with great success. Hard to believe after watching them on Tuesday night.
Watching Never Say Die on YouTube felt like listening to a completely different band. Being back in the 90s in somebody’s garage, being surrounded by a lot of energy. A little bit of anger, wrapped in a blanket of whiny moments. Grunge rock flavored music. Not so much Pearl Jam, more like Soundgarden. Edmonton only got to see half of what Arcane Saints are made off. Well, check it out for yourself:
But even if Michael John were singing, Arcane Saints would not have fit into the Hard/Screamo/Punk core-everything theme of that Tuesday night.
It started with Edmonton’s band Who’s the Hero. They could have been alright, if they wouldn’t have ended their set with a cover of Shots, originally by Little Jon. That should have stayed an unrevealed secret. Instead the true heroes that evening were Submerge and Riot in Paradise with their overwhelming energy. Submerge’s singer could do everything with his voice: grinding, melodic screaming, high vocal singing. Riot in Paradise definitely had the power to tear the Pawnshop apart. If it only wasn’t Tuesday. If only nobody would have had to work the next day. I am sure the audience would have been more grateful, more in the mood for moshing and dancing and simply having fun.
Find out more about Arcane Saints, including upcoming Edmonton dates, on YegLive.ca.