DIEMONDS PUT ON AN ABSOLUTELY KILLER PERFORMANCE
Date: September 1, 2015
Venue: The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar and Hotdoggery
Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Video: The Meister
Thirty four hours! That is how much time it took for Canadian sleaze rockers Diemonds to travel from Lloydminster, Alberta to Barrie, Ontario to play their gig at the aptly named The Foxx Lounge Rock Bar and Hotdoggery. To put things into perspective, the distance between Lloydminster and Barrie is just short of 3,000 kilometres (about 1,864 miles) if you go through the States. Assuming that Diemonds stuck with the Trans-Canada Highway, they would have had to log even more miles to get to destination. When I heard Diemonds‘ frontwoman Priya Panda inform the crowd about this very solid driving effort, it made my own one hour drive from Toronto to Barrie on this night to attend the show appear completely inconsequential. Even my recent 25 hour drive with my family from Sarasota, Florida to Toronto seemed like a walk in the park when I heard that. It certainly takes a lot of character, resolve and will power to endure a 34 hour drive to play a gig in front of what turned out to be a small but very passionate pro-Diemonds crowd in Barrie on a Tuesday night. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of it all to me is that the band looked refreshed and quite loose prior to and during their performance in Barrie, which ended up being an absolutely killer performance from one of the hardest touring bands to ever emanate from Toronto.
I am getting a little ahead of myself so let’s start at the beginning. Fellow Sleaze Roxx writer Eduardo and I made the “inconsequential” trek from Toronto to Barrie and arrived shortly after 9:00 pm to a pretty sleepy downtown area. As we were walking towards the venue, we ran into Diemonds‘ guitarist Daniel Dekay, followed by axeman C.C. Diemond and pretty soon the entire Diemonds band members were briefly and cordially chatting with us before they headed off to get something to eat. I can’t remember which band member stated this but someone asked — perhaps not to presume anything — if we just “happened” to be in the area decked out in rock t-shirts. Hmmm. “No” I replied. Why on earth would we be in Barrie on a quiet Tuesday night? It was of course to check out a live show from certainly one of my favorite bands (i.e. Diemonds) in the last three years — or more like since I found about them. As Eduardo and I entered The Foxx Lounge Bar and Hotdoggery venue — which was quite nice with what seemed like high ceilings — we ran into our friend The Meister who is affiliated with a rival website and is also a big Diemonds fan or “die-hard” if you will.
There were three bands on the bill for the night; Diemonds and two bands that I had never heard of: StereoBlastula (interesting name!) and the Anti-Queens. After hanging out for about an hour with no band yet having taken the stage, I started wondering just how late this evening was going to be considering that I had to catch a flight from Toronto at 7:00 am the following morning! The words from Panda just an hour earlier (something to the effect that it was going to be a late night) were starting to ring in my ears. I was therefore very pleased (at the time) when opening band StereoBlastula advised prior to playing a note that the Anti-Queens were not playing tonight.
No further reason was given for the Anti-Queens‘ apparent no-show but upon looking them up for the purpose of this review, it seems that just a few days prior to the Barrie gig, the Anti-Queens secured a “residency” gig every Tuesday in September at the small Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret & Lounge in Toronto. Accordingly, the Anti-Queens could not be two places at once and likely opted to attend the first night of their Cherry Cola’s residency. Whatever the reason that the Anti-Queens did not make it, I was pleased because it meant likely an extra hour of sleep prior to getting up very early the next morning. That probably turned out to be a bit unfortunate for Diemonds because just based on the Facebook likes count for the Anti-Queens and StereoBlastula, the Anti-Queens likely had a much bigger following than StereoBlastula and could have likely drawn some additional people to the gig.
The StereoBlastula band members — at least the lead vocalist / guitarist and bassist — had a great sense of humour semi-nervously cracking a few jokes prior to playing any songs including that the spectacular and huge Diemonds back drop was not theirs. StereoBlastula ended up playing eight rather diverse songs by my count. The second song that they played, which was apparently called “Aiming For The Sun” sounded really good to my ears and even came with a part cover of the Eurythmics‘ classic Sweet Dreams. I started thinking that I should buy their CD at the end of their set but I lost interest as the songs became more diverse and frankly not as good. One song literally sounded like a nursery rhyme when the band’s frontman was singing the verses. Another song started off so promisingly with a real Led Zeppelin groove to it before the group’s frontman started speed talking through the verses. Anyways, I was glad when StereoBlastula finished their set because it meant that Diemonds were on next. While StereoBlastula‘s music really is not the kind of music that I would typically listen to, I have to give credit to the band for putting on an entertaining performance to what turned out to a mostly and seemingly uninterested seated crowd.
For those of you who have been following my concert reviews on Sleaze Roxx, this will be my tenth time that I review a show involving Diemonds in the last three years. Throw in the four other times that I have seen the band play live where I did not craft a concert review (sorry), this meant that this was the fourteenth time that I was seeing Diemonds play live. While I have sort of criticized the band about sound issues in the past such as Panda‘s vocals getting drowned out by the music or recently bassist Adam Zlotnik‘s bass sounding slightly off, I concede that a lot of times, these factors are simply out of Diemonds‘ control and especially when they are opening for more established bands where they likely do not get much, if any, soundcheck. Whatever the case, the sound was not an issue on this night as overall, the band sounded fantastic. As you will be able to see from the photos and video (the latter courtesy of my friend The Meister), the stage was pretty small but looked really cool with the giant Diemonds backdrop, which was essentially the cover for the group’s new album Never Wanna Die.
Diemonds went up on stage to little fanfare. Co-band founder and guitarist C.C. Diemond summoned the crowd to come near the stage and it seemed that just about everyone in the venue moved and was standing near or closer to the stage area. Diemonds kicked off their set with “Meet Your Maker” which is likely my favorite song from their new album. Next up were four more new songs consisting of “Hell Is Full,” Panda‘s favorite new track “Forever Untamed” (check out my recent interview with her), “Ain’t That Kind Of Girl” which is another one of my favorite new Diemonds‘ songs and the first single “Over It.” While Diemonds have been playing some of these new songs live for over two years now, this was the first time that I really knew all of these songs since the sleaze rockers’ new album Never Wanna Die had been released for almost three weeks now in Canada. I think that went a long way in my increased enjoyment of their set on this night. It’s not that I have not enjoyed hearing the band’s new unreleased songs at prior gigs but if you already know the songs, odds are that you will enjoy them more when you hear them live and in my case get to sing along to them (with however I interpret the lyrics to be). All of the new songs played sounded really good and you could tell that the band was really enjoying themselves in front of a small but very into it crowd — or so it seemed from my vantage point.
Unlike other shows that I have seen from Diemonds, it seemed that the band members were a lot looser, smiling and laughing a lot more and just having a really good time on stage. There was also a lot more interaction with the crowd, particularly from axeman C.C. Diemond who probably addressed the crowd almost just as many times as Panda did. It was really a three pronged “assault” in terms of addressing the crowd as guitarist Daniel Dekay also spoke a number of times to the audience. C.C. Diemond was also smiling a lot which seemed almost a bit out of character for him compared to the other times that I had seen him live. Panda could also be seen sporting a really genuine smile at times. Whether or not I am correct in my observations, I thought that the trio’s interactions with the crowd were really good and really helped the band connect with the audience. Again, I am mindful that a lot of times that I have seen Diemonds play, they have opened for more established bands and they are likely under tight time constraints which might not enable them to interact with the crowd as much as they did during their headline set in Barrie.
I have made no secret in the past that I think that Diemonds‘ The Bad Pack is simply an absolutely stellar album and I was VERY pleased when Panda announced that they were going to be play a track from The Bad Pack that they had only played a handful of times in order to make this gig extra special. The song turned out to be “Left For Dead,” which is simply a fantastic song and was a real treat to hear live for the first time. Another huge treat was having Diemonds tear through another track from The Bad Pack — the spirited “Livin’ Tonight” — which was momentarily paused so that Dekay could have a beer shotgunning (or chugging) contest with a fan from the audience. There is no need to say that despite a valiant effort, that Diemonds fan did not stand a chance against Dekay who simply chugged his beer in record time.
The great songs kept coming with Diemonds following “Livin’ Tonight” with the new track “Better Off Dead,” “Get The Fuck Outta Here” which is the one The Bad Pack track that keeps getting included seemingly — with good reason — in every Diemonds‘ set, and the new album title track and upcoming single “Never Wanna Die.” Dekay and C.C. Diemond — or perhaps it was Panda — then took the time to explain that while Panda was off on vacation, the rest of the band ended up learning what I understand was her favorite song from her favorite band. Diemonds then tore through two covers of Kill Cheerleader‘s songs, “Sell Your Soul” and “Deathboy.” Those two songs had a real punk feel to them, were really catchy and fit nicely into Diemonds‘ set. It is kind of odd to have a Toronto band cover songs from another Toronto band with arguably a smaller following at this time (strictly based on Facebook likes) and I had to have Panda identify which band that Diemonds had covered these two songs from after the show. Diemonds closed off their set with their punk meets metal anthem “Highway” from their debut EP In The Rough. I thought that this might be the end of the show but then the sleaze rockers launched into a scorching version of the KISS classic — and likely my favorite KISS tune — “Deuce!” What an absolutely fantastic way to finish off a killer set and performance. At the end, Panda thanked the crowd and advised them that they had made the 34 hour drive well worth it!
Once the gig ended, it seemed that most of the audience swarmed the merchandise table and I simply could not resist purchasing a few items including a few copies of Diemonds‘ new album Never Wanna Die for a future Sleaze Roxx give-a-way contest (stay tuned for that) and The Bad Pack on vinyl. Funny enough, I don’t own a vinyl record player anymore but the lure of the beautiful The Bad Pack album cover turned out to be simply too strong for me to resist. As it turns out, the vinyl editions of The Bad Pack are all one of a kind as Dekay excitedly pointed out when he took out a vinyl record to show everyone that was near the merchandise table.
As my friend Eduardo and I left the venue, I told C.C. Diemond that this was the best show that I had seen Diemonds put on. I would rank Diemonds‘ Barrie gig performance as one of the best shows that I have seen all year and right now, rank it number two behind Steel Panther‘s gig in Toronto last May and ahead of Last Bullet‘s performance in Oshawa back in February. No need to say that I am really happy that I made the one hour trek to see Diemonds play and this is despite only getting afterwards less than two hours of sleep and almost missing my morning flight in the process!
Diemonds’ Track List:
01. Meet Your Maker
02. Hell Is Full
03. Forever Untamed
04. Ain’t That Kind Of Girl
05. Over It
06. Left For Dead
07. Save Your Life
08. Livin’ Tonight
09. Better Off Dead
10. Get The Fuck Outta Here
11. Never Wanna Die
12. Sell Your Soul (Kill Cheerleader cover)
13. Deathboy (Kill Cheerleader cover)
15. Deuce (KISS cover)