BIG WRECK w/ MONSTER TRUCK & BRKN LOVE
@ THE EMPIRE THEATRE, BELLEVILLE
DECEMBER 2, 2021
Sometimes your broken love feels like a monster truck after a big wreck, but all kidding aside, last night, at the beautiful Empire Theatre, live music made its triumphant return. On a cold Canadian night, before a sold-out crowd in Belleville, hope sprung eternal and rock ‘n’ roll kicked some ass.
People wore masks and presented their proof of vaccination, but entry into the venue ran smooth. The line-ups to grab cold beverages were reasonable too. It was nice to be able to browse the merch table and make small talk. there is nothing like the experience of live music and hopefully nights like this can continue.
BRKN LOVE was first on the bill and played to a sparce crowd, but gave a great performance. The band is young but extremely talented, with a soulful stage presence. They powered through their set and moved the audience with through beautiful melodic riffs. Flies in the Honey was a crowd favourite.
“That’s fu*king grunt power, right there”, someone shouted after the song, and the lead singer, Justin Benlolo, couldn’t help to laugh. He had been channeling his inner Sebastian Bach all night, which is not surprising since I Will Remember You was one of the first songs he ever performed as a young man.
Everyone got to their feet and expressed their gratitude. After a short intermission, Monster Truck was next. They can be best described as a thunderbolt of fun and energy up your ying-yang. Perhaps the ying-yang would disagree, but I think the metaphor fits because every set they perform feels like their last. Not because they are fading away anytime soon, but because they don’t take moments like this for granted. They love playing live, and the crowd loves them back. They might even be up for beatification too since Jeremy Weiderman remarked this evening and pointed to a minor miracle in his life. “This morning my back was all fu*ked-up but now it’s better. Rock ‘n’ roll heals everything!” The crowd cheered and the evening was authenticated with a loud cry of “Freebird!” They played a lot of great songs, but a chance to hear “For the Sun” is always a religious experience. There is something magical, mystical, and unquantifiably mythical about the sun and hearing the song live makes it even more so.
Monster Truck treated the people of Belleville to a brand-new song called “Country Livin”. It was well received as it’s a great tune and will probably stay on the setlist for years to come. “This one is about moving out of the city”, Jon Harvey remarked. “Like all our fu*king songs”, he added a moment later and laughed.
Big Wreck took the stage next. The set up was simple but effective. The four white panels behind the band projected smoke, fire, water, and snow during their performance. This really set the mood and gave the performance a more theatrical feel.
The new incarnation of Big Wreck with Ian Thornley, Dave McMillan, Chris Caddell, and Sekou Lumumba might be the best one yet. Not only was their performance exceptional this evening, but it was also a release party of sorts. They premiered three of their five songs that make up the 7.1 recording and there are not enough words to heap enough praise on how refreshing and different that EP sounds. This is what great artists do so well. They create and go places they’ve never been before.
Near the end of the set, during the band introductions, Ian Thornley made a special mention of the fact that Chris Caddell was born and raised in “Bellvegas”, as he called it. Maybe that’s why the foursome looked so vibrant and energetic all night. The Big Wreck set was full of with great guitar solos, but not just solos. They were played with tremendous attention to detail, which was an absolute treat for the ears.
7.1 is the first of a series of four EP’s being released. Together they will form one large project making next year a fabulous year for Canadian music. Check out the rest of the tour. It is short, but you don’t want to miss it!
Setlist (BRKN LOVE)
I Can’t Lie
Flies in the Honey
Setlist (Monster Truck)
She’s a Witch
For the People
For the Sun
7 Seas Blues
Sweet Mountain River
Don’t Tell Me How to Live
Setlist (Big Wreck)
Blown Wide Open
(Photography by Greg Kieszkowski)