Hearing many good things about both Ungrateful Children and Cherry Cola’s since coming to Toronto a few months ago, I naturally pounced on the chance to see this band at this venue when it came up. Or more accurately, hopped a couple trains and a streetcar and parked myself on a leopard print stool for an evening of balls-to-the-wall rock and roll.
Going in, I knew nothing of the other two bands on the bill. Sometimes that’s the best way; no notions or outside opinions, just a fresh-faced excitement and a certain naive small town girl curiosity that could be mistaken for charm if you squint (have I fooled anyone yet?).
I love rock shows. At a time in my life where I was feeling a little bit rebellious, I went to rock shows like it was my job. Seven days a week, 200 something days out of the year. Why? Freedom. I love freedom. Sometimes (okay, most times) I just want to bang my head to the beat of a solid kick drum, raise my fist and sing along. Not what you’d expect from a girl born and raised in musical theatre with a background in choral and music theory, right? We all have our secrets, and I like mine in the form of dirty, killer rock and roll.
The venue is bumpin’ some serious funk, which fits well with the red and black fleur de lis esque walls and my favorite and often mentioned stools. I sit and watch Frantic Fanatica set up. The singer is in holy jeans and chucks, with long9ish side swept hair and duct-tape x’s on his shirt.
He (who I later found out is named Jack) starts with a fast number. This first song makes me think of Green Day. I am instantly drawn in by simple but heavy bass lines, something I’ve always been a sucker for. A small crowd forms around me and I’m drawn from my seat to throw my fist in the air to the beat of the drum with my counterparts. Points to Frantic Fanatica! To be honest with you, even though I didn’t know any titles or words, I had a blast and they are definitely worth seeing if you get the chance. Jack is a crowd pleaser, with the interactive banter that is so important. The bassist knows what he is doing and can hold it down. And, if my vision serves me correctly; the drummer serves a sick beat with an injured hand. Unless he’s one of those drummers that wraps his hands for traction on the sticks.
After a set break during which I stepped outside and found myself talking to Dom, the drummer of Ungrateful Children, about everything ranging from The Muppets to the prairies, I stepped back inside and looked to the stage to find The Rotten; a punk band!
This brand of punk is one I know well and was taught early. It’s what I’ve come to think of as classic punk. Think: The Replacements, The Sex Pistols, The Germs and so many others that are sadly escaping me at this moment. The singer is tall and has taken what I refer to as ‘the punk’ stance in front of the microphone to entertain all of us with anger and anarchy. He’s wearing a shirt advertising The Vibrators and has a green guitar and a piercing through the bridge of his nose. I am instantly captured by his stage presence and total command of the room. In seconds flat, I’m up and rockin’ again.
The front man stops in between hard-driving numbers explaining that it’s been a while since they have been on stage, (Welcome back, The Rotten! I didn’t know what I was missing, but I know now that I missed you terribly!) giving me a chance to have a closer look at the other band members. Chick drummer...cool dude bassist who looks like he could have been a Ramone...WAIT--chick drummer?!
I could write a whole piece on female musicians and how we get a lot less respect than we should in the rock world. I’ll spare you, but female musicians always make me very happy to see, if only because I feel there are so few of us in bands that aren’t all female (not that I have a problem with all female bands at all, don’t get me wrong). The best part? She is a great musician! Any musician I have come across will be the first to tell you that good drummers are hard to find. The Rotten done found one and she’s badass.
In between these numbers, I learned that this ballsy front man is the brother of the singer for Ungrateful Children and my ears perk. It runs in the family? Oh crap, I’m about to get run over aren’t I?
Little brother does not disappoint. I am struck-- as cartoon characters are by pianos--by how much he reminds me of Iggy Pop. No one reminds me of Iggy Pop. Iggy Pop for me is on the medal-winning pedestals of front men that cannot be touched. I later find out his name is Terje, and from his performance skills, he’s one to be watched because he could completely blow this music scene away. The guitarists possess the power and drive that every rock band should, and one of them looks like he could be related to Peter Steele of Type-O Negative. Also on stage is powerhouse bassist Mike Unger, who is the reason I’m here, really. Mike is a friend from my time in the studio, I had the pleasure of watching him mess around on drums one day when he dropped in and he was AMAZING, and that’s not even his native instrument! And remember what I said about drummers? A good one is hard to find and harder to keep. Naturally, if he was jaw droppingly (literally) good on the drums, I wanted to see him play the bass. And I was not let down. He was even assisting with sound while onstage!
The crowd has now gotten so raucous that I actually have to move to the side to keep from being squashed and moshed in a pit and decide to take refuge by the door. Dom has quite a sensibility for the ‘metal’ style rhythm that every metal drummer I’ve met says are easy and then proceed to mess up. Dom didn’t mess up, that I noticed. Although, he was humble enough to come talk to me after and tell me he did.
This was an EP release party for the Children, and you can get that EP on BandCamp and Reverbnation, with Itunes following shortly. They are also on facebook.