Everyone is releasing their end of year lists, so here’s one of mine. The best guitar faces of the year. What is a guitar face? Let me explain, you know that moment when the band is on stage, the crowd is overexcited and that song comes on and everyone just feels it? The togetherness, the bond, well if you spend all of your time watching the lead singer going to town you’re missing the real show. The guitarist the one to watch, the faces that appear are innocently purely of someone in the moment, enjoying what they do and not caring about anything else. It’s that magical moment, and no one guitar face is quite like the other. So, enjoy the ones I’ve experienced thus far.
The Phoenix Concert Hall was filled to the brim at the 2015 CASBY Awards was preparing to welcome the final band of the evening. USS was chanted from the crowd as the band was jumping to warm up on the stage side. USS T-shirts were smothered in darkness as the lights went out. The deafening cheers rose, biting through my ear plugs as the band walked on stage ready to end the show.
Unfamiliar to USS, the excitement was still contagious, judging by the crowds reaction, it was the perfect way to end the show. They took their places after waving to the crowd.
And then the beat dropped.
A few moments in to the performance the crowd erupted into cheering, dancing hypnotized party animals. Stage divers were passed up to the front (pissing of security) but pleasing the band. Ash Buchholz and Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons, still beaming from their two wins earlier in the evening, one CASBY for New Favourite Song and the second for their album Advanced Basics going gold in Canada. The band is breathtaking and have just placed themselves as my new favourite band to see live. USS doesn’t just show up and play, they throw a party you just barely recover from.
The CASBY awards are different from other awards shows. The event doesn’t just present awards but they celebrate music. This year, they brought along some of Canada’s best bands to celebrate with them. Monster Truck, The Zolas, USS, Yukon Blonde and The Edge’s Next Big Thing winners, Ivory Hours all performed sets that were different than their usual stage presence. The winners of the evening were Colemen Hell for Best New Artist, Mother Mother for New Favourite Record, Metric for Best Sugar Beach Session, and USS for Favourite New Song. There is a different feel at an awards show, than a show. It’s not that small vacant feeling of too many bands being pressed into a bill at a music festival. It’s quite the opposite. It’s a vibe of togetherness, and the theme of fun.
Opening up the show Monster Truck stepped out of the ’80s decked in jeans, beards and long hair perfect for flipping , and offered an amazing performance that was the perfect start to the show. Guitarist, Jeremy Widerman, couldn’t contain himself from the audience during the set. Jumping over the amps to play with his feet to the crowd at the stages edge.
Familiar to the Zola’s circa 2012, meaning, I love Knot in my Heart. The band came and showcased their newer songs, which are a far more upbeat and uplifting. There is still that darker, Zola feel to them. They came to celebrate, though they didn’t win, and it was hard to not smile while the band covered every part of the stage.
I’m pretty sure Luke Ross might have the happiest best guitar face. Cleary excited to perform Ivory Hours, stepped onto the stage where a little over a month ago they put on a performance that won them their title. A month later, they came back and showed the crowd again, that they’re the ones to watch.
Young Empires have a cool toned down energy to them, that only they could pull off. Performing everything the crowed wanted to hear off of The Gates. Having seen them a few years ago, it was surprising to see them now. Having solidified their sound and the newer refined version of the band they’ve definitely come into their own.
Bringing a few dancers to their set. Yukon Blonde, came and put on a show, that made you forget that you weren’t at one of their concerts. Playing with energy, the band brought out two dancers to match their sound.
The show proved Canada has an epic music scene with dedicated fans. Even if the crowd wasn’t familiar with the band on stage, they cheered, crowd surfed and danced until the night ended. Everyone went home already counting down until next years awards.