LÖVE RAZËR BRING THE SUNSET STRIP TO RURAL CHATHAM
Date: February 15, 2020
Venue: Fortresss Tavern
Location: Chatham, Ontario, Canada
I suppose that I had taken the Toronto local rock scene for granted from 2012 to 2017. No offence to all the other Toronto bands out there but two really stuck out in my mind from 2012 to 2017. Diemonds and Last Bullet both offered amazing music and fantastic live shows, and odds are that they would play a couple of times per year in the Toronto area each year from 2012 to 2017. Unfortunately, Last Bullet “suddenly” decided to call it quits only about six months after their last EP 80-69-64 was released. The group led by the charismatic frontman Bryan Fontez played its last gig in front of a packed and rabid crowd at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto back in late January 2018. I named that show the best one that I had seen in 2018. Although still kind of active, Diemonds haven’t played a concert on Canadian soil since October 2017 and have only performed three sets via the Monsters of Rock Cruise since then. Yes, the Canadian sleaze rockers did release a very good self-titled album in August 2018 but the band was literally falling apart at the seams during that time and didn’t even play an album release show to support its new record.
Thankfully, I “discovered” The Lazys in April 2018. They put on kick ass live shows and have released one of the greatest albums of this last decade with Tropical Hazards. But I need more great Toronto area bands. The stellar Canadian sleaze rockers Löve Razër, who are about four hours away from Toronto, used to come and play in Toronto on a regular basis during their first year (back in 2016) but have understandably elected to play more gigs closer to their home base since then. Given that Löve Razër are one of the hottest up and coming bands in the sleaze rock genre, I’ve been keeping an eye on their upcoming shows even though they are often three to four hours away from my home. It’s obviously tricky to make those shows but this weekend opened up with my four ladies in my life (wife and three daughters) going away on a ladies weekend. At first, I scoured the listings for Toronto concerts but quickly came to the conclusion that the best show to attend was one of Löve Razër‘s two gigs this weekend. The closest one was three hours away in the smaller rural municipality of Chatham-Kent in the province of Ontario and the further one was four hours away in the band’s hometown of Windsor, Ontario.
Given the distance to get to either show, it was imperative for me to find out at exactly what time that the band was going to play and Löve Razër bassist Metal Mike was quick to respond to my inquiry with the group’s estimated start times for both shows. Metal Mike suggested that Löve Razër‘s gig in Windsor (which will take place later today) would be a cool one to attend, since it was a little different than normal as it was taking place in the afternoon, open to kids and serving as a fundraiser for the group’s upcoming and very cool gig opening for Last In Line at the legendary Whisky A Go-Go in West Hollywood, California on March 27, 2020. However, Löve Razër‘s show in Chatham seemed more appealing to me since the band was scheduled to play for about two hours and it would be less driving for me. It had been about 15 years since I had made my way to Chatham. From what I recall, the downtown area during the day was quite pretty. This time around, I was arriving in the dead of the night and made it to the Fortress Tavern venue at around 11:00 pm. As I hastily made my way into the venue, I bumped into Metal Mike at the entrance who jokingly advised that I had great timing as the band was about to hit the stage any moment now. Löve Razër‘s friendly frontman Sydney Snow — who looks like the poster child for any of the bands that we all loved back in the ’80s heyday — also came by to say hello while guitarist Micky Bonez and drummer Crissy Sixx were setting up on stage.
I got to say that I was excited to see Löve Razër play and particularly, since the group would be playing not one, but two sets on this night. That simply meant to me that they would be playing more songs that usual, which was of course fantastic. The Fortresss Tavern is probably one of the best set up venues that I have ever seen for live music. The Fortresss Tavern is kind of in a rectangle shape with the stage near the windows along one of the longest sides of the rectangle shaped venue and with the very long bar on the opposite side of the other longer side of the rectangle shaped area. In between is a “general admission” area and tons of tables and chairs with some pool tables on one side. In other words, everyone who was inside the venue had a good view of the stage aside from the various pillars to hold up the ceiling in such a big room. I wish that Toronto had such a great shaped venue. Hopefully, the Fortresss Tavern can start attracting more concerts from bigger bands because they have an ideal set up in that regard. It’s worth noting that the sound in the venue was absolutely fantastic and I am sure that most of the credit has to go to the venue’s sound man who was pretty close to the stage and focused all evening long.
The audience also seemed appreciative of good solid rock n’ roll music. When Löve Razër were playing, it seemed that everyone’s eyes were glued on the band and there were a couple of ladies dancing in the “general admission” area from time to time mainly during the cover songs but also during the band’s very good new track “Call of The Wild.” Snow had explained to me that the venue was more a “covers” type place and that he had played there before with his own cover band 80s Gone Wild. Nevertheless, it was Löve Razër‘s first time playing at the Fortress Tavern and they didn’t disappoint. Given that the group had more time to play, it seemed that there was more interaction between the band members and the audience. Metal Mike cracked jokes on a number of occasions. Some were better received than others but I give him credit for giving it a go time after time. Snow of course was addressing the audience as well.
The surprise of the night was guitarist Micky Bonez also addressing the crowd from time to time. Bonez‘s comments to the audience were funny in that they came off a little “angry” which Metal Mike was quick to point out each time. The first Bonez address that stands out was when Löve Razër were about to start their second set at around Midnight or so. Bonez came up asking the crowd if they wanted to hear a new song. When he apparently did not get the reaction that he was looking for, Bonez asked again, which is when Metal Mike jumped in joking about the guitarist’s “angry” address. The second Bonez address that comes to mind is close to the end when the group finished its second set and was greeted by a lengthy round of applause, which sounded really cool, and like beer bottles and glasses repeatedly banging on tables. After awhile, Bonez advised the audience that Löve Razër would play an encore but only if the audience members got off their chairs and made their way onto the general admission area. Bonez insisted even though the crowd did not seem to be moving at first. The guitarist then told the audience that everyone would know the song that was going to be played and to get up there. Metal Mike jumped in again jokingly referring to Bonez‘s comments as “angry ones.” Eventually, a good portion of the audience made its way onto the “general admission” area as Löve Razër ripped through their rousing rendition of Steppenwolf‘s classic “Born To Be Wild.”
I really enjoyed the interaction and smiles exchanged between the band members. At one point during the sleaze rockers’ debut single “First Class Bitch”, Metal Mike and Bonez traded instruments with Metal Mike handling the guitar duties including a solo while Bonez played the bass guitar. It was very interesting to see how each musician has his own sound while playing each instrument. Bonez seemed to play Metal Mike‘s bass much more loudly while Metal Mike‘s guitar sound was quite different from Bonez‘s usual guitar playing. It helped reinforce to me why it seems that no guitarist has really ever been able to seemingly replicate Eddie Van Halen‘s “brown” guitar sound. After the duo had exchanged instruments again, Metal Mike joked how great it was to finally get some attention as the “guitarist” or something in that vein.
Löve Razër‘s two sets were really good ones and consisted of all of their released songs to date — the three tracks from their EP Rock ‘N’ Roll Addiction and the eight songs from their full-length album Border City Rebels — along with their stellar new track “Call of The Wild” and a number of cover songs. The group members seem to have settled on opening their set with “Turn It Up” and closing it with “All Time Sleaze”, and that was once again what they did. However, the rest of the setlist was quite different from the last time that I saw them perform live at The Casbah in Hamilton, Ontario back in August 2019. It was a real treat to hear “Too Hot To Handle” — which video premiered on Sleaze Roxx earlier this week — as well as “Toxic Tears” from the group’s album Border City Rebels. The standout track for me was likely “Call of The Wild” which has a great chorus and really showcases Snow‘s amazing vocal abilities.
It was fun also hearing different cover songs from Löve Razër than what they usually play. The band first resurrected an oldie that it used to cover with Bob Seger‘s “Her Strut.” Given my unfamiliarity with Seger in general, I pointed out to Snow during the intermission between the band’s two sets that Löve Razër should record this new tune that had just been resurrected into the set before Snow reminded me that it was a Bob Seger cover and advised that it was difficult for whatever reason for the band to obtain rights to record that song. The surprising and very good covers continued with “Rats” from Ghost, “The Trooper” from Iron Maiden, “Love Gun” from KISS and a rousing rendition of AC/DC‘s “Whole Lotta Rosie.” One thing that makes Löve Razër‘s covers so special is that Snow‘s voice is so distinctive. It’s kind of a high pitch delivery similar to Vince Neil when the singer could actually sing back in the early ’80s. That really helps to make whatever covers that Löve Razër play seem like their own songs. I think that it was Bonez who told the audience that Löve Razër would be playing an AC/DC song but I don’t think that anyone in the audience was ready for the fury displayed by the Windsor based band when it tore through “Whole Lotta Rosie” which I have always found a bit different than the usual AC/DC fare.
The one Löve Razër band member that was rather quiet was drummer Crissy Stixx but towards the end of the night, Snow revealed that the drummer had been battling the flu yet was still out on this night performing his drumming duties. Despite Stixx battling the flu, he still delivered a drum solo towards the end. One of the highlights of the night was towards the end when Löve Razër played their closing number “All Time Sleaze” and Snow ran towards the back of the venue, jumped on the bar and ended up lying down on his back and slowly “crawling” his way along the bar while taking multiple shots and guzzling copious amounts of hard liquor. After the show was over, Snow estimated that he likely had about eight shots, which all occurred in the span of like one minute! Overall, it was a great show and Löve Razër promised Chatham that they would not wait another two years to play there again.
Löve Razër’s setlists:
01. Turn It Up
02. Too Hot To Handle
03. Her Strut (Bob Seger cover)
05. Partied Out Freak
06. Toxic Tears
07. Rats (Ghost cover)
09. Guitar solo
10. Rockin’ In The Free World (Neil Young cover)
11. Call of The Wild
12. Stuck Under You
13. The Trooper (Iron Maiden cover)
14. Trip To Nowhere
15. Whole Lotta Rosie (AC/DC cover)
16. First Class Bitch
18. Drum solo
19. Love Gun (KISS cover)
20. All Time Sleaze
21. Born To Be Wild (Steppenwolf cover)
Everyone has of course likely heard of “don’t drink and drive” but for my case, it should be “don’t go to a concert and drive.” Within minutes of getting out of Chatham and just as I embarked on the highway gaining speed, I was busted by a police officer for speeding. Ugh. This seems to be a recurring thing for me after concerts as I was pulled over for going too fast after an Alice Cooper concert in March 2018 and again on my way back home from the M3 Rock Festival in May 2018. Luckily, the police officer was rather friendly despite giving me two tickets (make sure to have your most up to date insurance policy pink slip on you) and expressed surprise that I had attended a concert in small town Chatham. The rest of the drive was uneventful and slower as I got home at around 4:00 am. Overall, it was totally worth it and I would do the trip to see Löve Razër again in a heartbeat.