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 Honest Heart Collective came on stage and played their best show, which was also deemed the most nerve-wracking. With their fate yet to be determined and the success behind them, a sweaty, dazed and happy Ryan MacDonald talked about how a certain wrestler helped him out before playing as a part of the top six at The Edge’s Next Big Thing.
“It was awesome. As soon as the drums kicked in all my fear just went away. It was perfect. I don’t think we could have played any better.”
Still enthralled from show, and now relaxing with a beer in the media lounge, it was clear the performance high was still bright in the singer’s eyes. Not one to normally let his emotions claim a show, MacDonald felt the pressure with the contest on the line.
“I have anxiety. This is the first time playing a show with so much on the line. I could feel it in my arms. I could feel this tension building and it was nerve wracking to move forward. I was sitting on the steps backstage before the show just thinking, ‘okay, you know, you’re gonna have to do this. Make it work.’”
Normally the singer calms himself by breathing and focusing on vocal health, but with five other bands to beat he needed something a little more intense to keep him focused. Something which came from an unexpected source: a video of a speech Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson gave to the US Women’s Soccer Team, that he admits he watched over and over before the show.
“It was like ‘you guys are rock stars,’ and ‘you guys are perfect,’ the only thing that was off was instead of of saying 5 he said twenty-three.”
Laughing at the silliness now, MacDonald stands by his unofficial support system.
“I put him on our guest list, I don’t know if he’s coming,” he joked. “All I know if that, if The Rock shows up I wouldn’t want him to be paying cover.
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and tomorrow the lives of one band will be changed as they’re named The Edge’s Next Big Thing. On Friday, the final 6 bands: The Honest Heart Collective, Midday Swim, Small Town Lungs, Thrifty Kids, Ivory Hours and Spells of Vertigo battled it out for friends, family, and fans at The Phoenix. With $25,000 dollars, gear from Long and McQuade, studio time at the world-renowned Metalworks Studios, and not to mention, airplay on 102.1 the Edge as just a few of the perks awarded to the winners, the artists made sure they played the set of a lifetime.
First up was The Honest Heart Collective. From Thunder Bay, the five-piece band played a mix of indie-rock to a packed-enthusiastic crowd. Able to draw people to the front of the stage with their first song, the band didn’t lack crowd interaction. Slightly nervous, lead Ryan MacDonald praised himself for overcoming the nerves set off by the biggest show the band has ever played.
Slowing things down with their mix of beachy rock, Thrifty Kids, came, dominated and left a lingering note of mystery. They may not be well known just yet, but they left the audience wondering where the young talents came from and how could they hear more. Torontonians need not to worry, singer Sarah Cogan says the band will be Toronto-based in September.
Midday Swim kept the chilled vibes flowing by playing songs from their self-titled EP. The seasoned pros didn’t seem to be bothered by nerves, but rather overthrown with excitement as David Krygier-Baum explained before the show.
“We’re just excited for the energy. We can’t wait to play for friends and family [as well as] to play with some great bands,”
Bringing back classic rock, Spells of Vertigo took the stage. Grunge and hair thrashing oozed from the stage and consumed the audience. The band invited the crowd into their dark world which is made up of skilled guitar and menacing vocals so enticing the crowd couldn’t help but accept their invitation.
The crowd went crazy when Ivory Hours hit the stage. A fan favourite the boys from London, Ont. offered up a high-energy set that enthralled the crowd from beginning to end. Running, jumping and singing up a storm Luke Ross has mastered how to give a great performance.
The final band of the night may have gotten the biggest reaction from the crowd. Adding some dance to the mix, Small Town Lungs played to an adoring crowd that begged for an encore once their set was finished. Backstage singer, Tom Meikle admitted to feeling bit at odds with the competition aspect.
“Sure if we win it’d advance our careers majorly, but in the end we’re still gonna keep going,” he said before their show.
Mastering how to mix textures, layer tones and play the hell out of their instruments, you could never tell that they haven’t played a show this serious previously. It was clear they played to win.
There wasn’t a single downfall or fluke of the night. All six bands played their best show and made it impossible to rank one above the other. Each having mastered their own sounds be it from to pop or alternative rock it’s certain that all the contestants are the next big things in the making.
Tune in to 102.1 The Edge Tomorrow Morning at 10 to find out who will officially receive the title.
It’s time to place your bets and get a front row seat for a chance to watch a “baby” band get discovered. The final 6 bands from The Edge’s Next Big Thing contest will play The Phoenix Concert Hall for a shot to make their names known. It began from hundreds of musicians, but Ivory Hours, The Honest Heart Collective, Small Town Lungs, Spells Of Vertigo, Thrifty Kids, and Midday Swim have fought their way to the finale.
Admit it, there’s something a little enthralling about saying “I remember seeing them before they made it.” Well, tonight is the night to earn those bragging rights and see something special in the making.