FASTER PUSSYCAT PLAY TO A PACKED HOUSE IN TORONTO
Date: July 28, 2017
Venue: The Rockpile
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Reveiwer: Tyson Briden
Faster Pussycat are a band that I have seen various times. To be honest, I never had the opportunity to see the original line-up. The closest I ever came to seeing more than one original member with the band was in the early 2000s in Buffalo, New York, USA at a small club ironically called Rock N’ Roll Heaven. At the time, Brent Muscat was playing with the band and stood two feet in front of me as he played. Of course, most know that the only original member I mention still playing with the band and keeping the name going is singer Taime Downe. As I write, I am trying to count the number times I have actually seen the band. I believe with this show I am writing about, this makes it five times. If the truth must be told, the previous four times, I only went to see Faster Pussycat because they were opening for other bands I wanted to see. I believe, the Buffalo show was with Pretty Boy Floyd and Enuff Z’Nuff. Another occasion was an opening slot for a Poison/Cinderella show and another one being with Lillian Axe and Jack Russell. The last being a show with John Corabi and L.A. Guns.
For this particular show, Faster Pussycat were on their own with multiple local Toronto supporting acts. This show was a last minute decision for me. Earlier in the week, as I was packing up my family to go camping, a good friend of mine, who we will call Chef Weby, asked me if I had thought about going. It was something I really wasn’t thinking of doing. Singer Paul Charlebois from the band CounterWait, who were one of the openers on this evening had mentioned the show to me and asked if I would be attending. So the night before the show, as I was still camping I texted Weby and told him I was in. Of course, Chef Weby, as you can tell by the name is an incredible cook. If you ask John Corabi, he can also attest to this fact for he attended a backyard BBQ years back with our group of concert going friends. When in Toronto, Corabi, on stage occasionally mentions the Chef. Weby asked if I’d like a gourmet BBQ meal before the show to which I answered “Of course.” There is no way you pass up a meal from an amazing chef. So at 7 pm, I arrived at Weby‘s Scarborough home. Weby had prepared a meal of the best steak fajitas on the planet. We knew our time was ticking, so we quickly ate this simply delicious meal of fajitas with homemade guacomole, baked french fries and mexican salads.
We finally left Weby’s house at 8:30 pm and travelled swiftly down Highway 401 with the top down in my 2007 Pontiac G6. Weby had brought along a Jani Lane CD I had never heard before. It was Lane doing various covers recorded throughout his career. We cruised quickly with the music bellowing from the sides of the car. It was a beautiful, hot evening so it was par for the course. We arrived at 9:00 pm and quickly realized we had missed the first band. Dirty Little Secrets had just finished their set. So we made our way to the bar and I couldn’t help but notice how very packed The Rockpile was. Very impressive and very nice to see.
As we waited for the next band, I noticed that the merch booth was set up at the back. Chef Weby and I made our way over. Faster Pussycat had a vast amount of merch for sale. CounterWait were in a small space beside selling copies of their new EP and t-shirts. Dirty Little Secrets were just to the right of them. As I had talked to Paul Charlebois of CounterWait on various occasions, I went over to say hello. He acknowledged me, we shook hands and just as this was going on, singer/guitarist Jeff Freitas overheard me introducing myself. This meeting was a little strange though. Freitas was very friendly and mentioned he had just mailed out their EP for me to review, but Charlebois came across as slightly aloufe. As I was talking, he turned around, said “I’m going to get something to eat”, and walked away. As this happened, Freitas sat down at their table. So I was left standing there alone, wondering what just happened. As I think about this meeting, I will give Charlebois the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was his nerves talking and he just felt this wasn’t the right time. I will add that after his performance, Charlebois and I had a brief encounter. We shook hands, spoke of the show and carried on our way.
About 15 minutes after our arrival, Spin Dizzy took the stage. My feeling upon hearing them was that they had a very interesting sound. I thought that the band’s sound was perfect on the bill that evening. It reminded me of a Junkyard/Sea Hags type of thing. Very raw sounding, yet tight. Spin Dizzy did not seem out of place whatsoever. I was impressed.
Even though our earlier meeting was not quite as I had hoped, I still felt that CounterWait deserved the benefit of the doubt. I had seem them previously opening for Ted Poley this past winter and really liked what I had seen. This show would turn out to be no different. CounterWait put on an entertaining, solid show. I love how the band meshes the two singers, Charlebois and Freitas, together as well as the two playing lead guitar. I really liked seeing Freitas using a vintage Ibanez Jem guitar that was made famous back in the ’80s by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. For those who have not seen the band, I highly recommend them and feel as though they have a great sound that would appeal to those of the heavier ’90s alternative sound. The only concern I really have is that as a young band, they are able to not read too much into any hype that may surround them and humbly embrace any success that may follow. Overall well done.
03. This Day On
05. Live For You
06. Through Your Eyes
07. All Or Nothing
The four members of Faster Pussycat took the stage before singer Taime Downe was anywhere in sight. The band rocked out to a cool, yet modern sounding version of Ted Nugent‘s “Stranglehold.” Downe finally arrived and the band went into “Jack The Bastard” from Faster Pussycat‘s third release Whipped. I tried to adjust my ears because something just didn’t seem to sound right. As the band went into “Cathouse” from the band’s self-titled debut album, I was starting to feel as though this was going to be a long performance. The band just didn’t seem totally on. It was sloppy and loose with the guitar sounding very muddy…
Faster Pussycat performing “Jack The Bastard” at The Rockpile in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 28, 2017:
Faster Pussycat “Jack The Bastard” Rockpile Bar & Nightclub (July 28/ 2017) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
And then miraculously, it all took a turn for the better. As the band went into “Slip Of The Tongue” from the band’s second album Wake Me When its Over, I quickly noticed how much better they sounded. The band was hitting stride and sounding better than I had ever heard them. Downe then proclaimed “What the fuck is up Toronto?” and seemed to be in good spirits. He was looking a little different as the black lipstick was gone and he was sporting a mustache. My understanding is that Downe has quit smoking and drinking. It showed. His performance was outstanding. He was really on his game. The band proceeded into two newer songs that I was really unfamiliar since I had not purchased any albums from this band since Whipped. “Number One With A Bullet” and “Glory Hole” were very tight sounding, with very catchy hooks. It’s at this point that the band really sucked in the audience. “Shooting You Down” came off fantastically well and didn’t sound dated one bit. The band then went into the first video I ever seen by the band way back in 1987. “Don’t Change That Song” had everyone in a frenzy. The capacity crowd was going crazy and watching Downe‘s every move.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Faster Pussycat without the band playing their biggest hit. “House Of Pain” might have been the highlight of the evening and as I mentioned before, it wasn’t the five original members playing these songs, but it sounded fresh and you wouldn’t know for a second that anything was different. This song was perfectly executed. “You’re So Vain” — the fantastic cover of the Carly Simon song was next and really knocked this performance out of the ballpark. “Bathroom Wall” kept the show moving… This was not to be. Something occurred that left seemingly everyone in the audience scratching their heads. Downe left the stage halfway through that song and the band broke into the AC/DC classic “Sin City” with drummer Chad Stewart leading the vocal charge. As this was transpiring, I thought “It’s cool. They’ll just play a little bit of the song and they’ll break back into “Bathroom Wall.”” Well, I was wrong. They played “Sin City” to the end.
Faster Pussycat performing “You’re So Vain” at The Rockpile in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on July 28, 2017:
Faster Pussycat “You’re So Vain” Rockpile Bar & Nightclub (July 28/ 2017) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
It was from there that I felt as a paying customer, I was being ripped off. Guitarist Ace Von Johnson would take over the vocals and sing, what I am assuming was a punk cover. “Bad Bad Luck” really did sound spectacular and Johnson could easily front his own band, but this was a Faster Pussycat show, not a jam night at the local bar. From there, bassist Danny Nordahl handled the lead vocals on what seemed like another punk cover. The song was called “Pretty Fucked Up” and just seemed to exemplify the whole situation at the time. Finally, as this song came to a close, Downe reappeared and “Bathroom Wall” was completed. As I recollect this portion of the show, I was left scratching my head. I know Downe has had some health issues in the past and I wondered if those issues were still prevalent. When the band has such a wide catalog to choose from, my expectation as a paying customer is that I will hear as much Faster Pussycat material as possible. No offence to the other members, but three covers in a row really sucked the life out of the performance. To say the least, myself and Chef Weby were a little pissed.
It was at this time, I thought maybe the band would really bring the roof down and make up for the debacle that had just transpired. A good break for Downe and he would be ready to go! That was not to be. Faster Pussycat broke into “Shut Up and Fuck.” I really find this song to be mundane and a little cliche, so I was looking to the next song. “Babylon” put a smile on my face and I anticipated a good run of songs from the first two albums. Not on this night boys and girls. The song came to an end and that was it. The crowd shouted and banged their beer bottles in hopes of an encore. Suddenly, Russ Dwarf‘s bassplayer, whose name escapes at this time, announced that Faster Pussycat would be at the merch booth for a meet and greet.
Well let’s fast forward 15 minutes to the meet and greet. I watched as about one quarter of those in attendance made their way to the merch table. Indeed, it was about 15 minutes before the band would arrive… well all of them except for Taime Downe. I being one not to wait in a line-up to meet any band, I just watched from the sidelines. Although Downe was not in attendance, the rest of the band were friendly and accomodating to all those in attendance.
Overall what can I say? A very strange night indeed, but overall I did have a fantastic time. I ran into Punishment‘s Brad Searl and Kevin Gale, who I was happy to see. We chatted periodically and like always, the two were very friendly. In speaking with Gale the next day, he mentioned how great it was to see such a big crowd. It had reminded him of back in the day at Rock N’ Roll Heaven in Toronto. Hopefully, The Rockpile can build on that momentum. I know there is a Nova Rex show coming up at The Rockpile on September 1st and hopefully the attendance will be close to the same. For those unaware of Nova Rex, it may be in your best interest to check them out. A great live hair rock band from Florida with roots in Canada. Now thinking back on this show, would I see Faster Pussycat again? I am really not sure. I’ll leave it at that!!!
Faster Pussycat’s setlist:
01. Jack The Bastard
03. Slip Of The Tongue
04. Number One With A Bullet
05. Glory Hole
06. Shooting You Down
07. Don’t Change That Song
08. House Of Pain
09. You’re So Vain
10. Bathroom Wall
11. Sin City (lead vocals by Chad Stewart)
12. Bad Bad Luck (lead vocals by Ace Von Johnson)
13. Pretty Fucked Up (lead vocals by Danny Nordahl)
14. Shut Up And Fuck