SVEN GALI — ROUND TWO TO PACKED CLUB
Date: July 21, 2018
Venue: This Ain’t Hollywood
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
What a difference a day makes. After playing to a smaller crowd — we’ll call it an “intimate” gig — in London, Ontario the preceding night, Sven Gali this time played to a packed club to a rabid hometown crowd in Hamilton, Ontario. I had just learned from my friend Brian Ronald of Decibel Geek that Sven Gali originated from Hamilton so I was expecting a better turnout than in London but I was not expecting a place jammed with people. I had been twice before to the club This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton and both times the club was pretty empty. For those who haven’t been to This Ain’t Hollywood, it is nestled on a street corner pretty much at the end of James Street North filled with little shops. The entrance is to the side of the club rather than facing James Street North. By 10:30 pm when I got to the club, there was hardly anyone on James Street North for a few 100 meters leading up to the club. After parking my car, I walked about 50 metres to the club and was shocked to see the outdoor patio to the side of the club filled with people. This meant that the club would likely be packed to the brim with people by the time that Sven Gali started their set.
As I made my way through the crowd to the front of the stage, Blacken’d Red were about midway through their set. They played some straight up dirty type riff based rock n’ roll. The bassist looked pretty built and was wearing a cowboy hat. The guitarist (I assume named Brian Pincombe based on the info on the group’s Facebook page) was wearing a baseball cap and jacket, which was surprising as it looked like it was really hot up there on stage. The singer (I assume named Izzy) was not wearing any shirt, had long hair and a bunch of tattoos. He reminded me a lot of Anvil frontman Lips for whatever reason minus the guitar. For a first listen, I quite liked the last song that the band played but at this time, can’t remember the song title! Overall, Blacken’d were pretty good and I wouldn’t mind seeing them open for another established act in the future.
Unlike the previous night in London, Ontario, it was standing room only at This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton! The place was packed and people were trying to make their way closer to the stage, especially since there really isn’t a lot of room to view the stage. The best way to describe the This Ain’t Hollywood venue is that it’s like the number eight with the stage at one end of one of the circles. As you walk away from the stage, the space ends up shrinking in width due to the long bar on one side and a bunch of tables an chairs on the other, which is kind of like the middle portion of the number eight. Once you pass that middle portion, the space widens again back to roughly what it was closer to the stage. No need to say that anyone in back of the venue is not going to have much of a view of the stage. I was pretty much at the front of the stage but relinquished my spot when Sven Gali singer Dave Wanless‘ proud mother asked (or perhaps it was one of the friends), after identifying herself as the “singer’s mother”, to be able to squeeze through closer to the left front facing the stage. I saw many familiar faces in the crowd from the previous night so obviously, there were at least a handful of people that decided to do a Sven Gali concert double like I did. I had a couple of friends that indicated that they would be going to the show including one who confirmed just an hour prior but alas none of these friends made it out. In any case, it was standing room only in the packed venue and at least on this night, whether two to four additional people were there or not would make no difference.
With a thick cloud of smoke behind them, Sven Gali started their set with the same songs as the previous night — “Disgusted” and “Freakz.” I was curious to see if there would be any alterations to their setlist from the previous night and as it turns out, there was one significant change that was for the worse as one song got dropped from the setlist! Nevertheless, it made more sense to me and I’ll get back to that towards the end of the review. While I expected that the setlist and even the order of the songs would be virtually the same as the previous night, I wasn’t expecting Wanless to state the same things to the crowd as the previous night but that’s pretty much what he did. Before the song “Hurt” was played, he explained that the band had never recorded the song before but enjoyed playing it live. Prior to “Kill The Lies”, he explained how the band had decided to record a new song. While there was nothing wrong with what Wanless was doing, as clearly the entire set including his banter to the crowd had been pre-arranged, I believe that it was my first time going to see a band play two nights in a row so I was taken by surprise by the repeat stories.
There seemed to be a lot of energy in the air — or perhaps it was just the sweat pouring from everyone packed in the crowded venue — as Sven Gali played their crowd pleasing set. it was really nice to see the place packed after seeing the band play to a rather empty venue the night before. What a difference that one hour makes, which is the distance driving wise between the two venues in London and Hamilton. My favorite songs on the night were the ones from Sven Gali‘s classic self-titled debut album and particularly the songs “Freakz,” “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow” and of course “Under The Influence.” Speaking of the latter track, it seemed to make more sense that it was the last song played even though it meant that Sven Gali were playing one song less than the previous night.
Given that I am a little late in completing this concert review, I am glad that Sven Gali got to experience at least one packed to the gills concert during their “unfinished business” comeback tour. I say that because I suspect that Sven Gali used their series Canadian tour dates (in sometimes pretty small markets like Sudbury, Ontario) as a warm up for their almost headlining gig on the first day of the Hull Metal Heaven Festival in Hull, UK that is scheduled to take place from September 14 to 16, 2018. Unfortunately, the Hull Metal Heaven Festival has run into some financial difficulties and has had to trim some bands. Of course, it always seems that the festivals end up cutting the bands that are coming from the furthest distances. Accordingly, it’s no surprise to having read that Sven Gali are no longer part of the Hull Metal Heaven Festival. Hopefully, the band still feels that there is some “unfinished business” and continues its comeback trek. Only time will tell.
Sven Gali’s setlist:
04. In My Garden
05. Love Don’t Live Anymore
06. Keeps Me Down
07. What You Give
08. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
09. Sweet Little Gypsy
10. Kill The Lies
11. Tye Dyed Skies
12. Mountain Song (Jane’s Addiction cover)
13. Under The Influence
Snippet of Sven Gali performing “Under The Influence” at This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on July 21, 2018:
Under the Influence in the Hammer.