Seminal thrash metal band Voivod celebrated their first-ever JUNO win with a wicked show that had fans moshing in the middle of a trendy London restaurant.
Hours before, Voivod’s album The Wake was named Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year, and the members were still overjoyed by the time they took the stage at Toboggan Brewing Co. “It took almost three years to make,” said lead singer Denis “Snake” Bélanger of the album. “So this day means everything.”
Their frenetic JUNOfest set, which showcased their eighties output alongside more recent fare, was characterized by pummeling rhythms, unnerving yowled vocals, and wicked guitar solos.
They opened on an aggressive note with the Mad Max-esque apocalypse opus “Post-Society,” in which breakneck bass, crashing drums and scorching guitars evoked speeding cars and fiery crashes. The pace didn’t let up until the sludgy “Into My Hypercube,” which itself slowly mutated into something harsher and more disturbing.
The unrelenting heaviness of the music didn’t detract from the stunning musicianship on display; Voivod’s prog-rock influence could be clearly seen in the constant guitar pyrotechnics and jarring tempo changes. The group’s dense and paranoid lyrics added an additional edge of disorientation, particularly on songs like “The Fall,” with its eerie chorus of “My self is not what it used to be.”
(The overwhelming strangeness of Voivod’s output made me wonder what exactly Bélanger was referring to when he introduced “Always Moving” as “a weird song;” the irony seemed to occur to him as well, because he added: “This is a Voivod song.”)
They reached a fiery finish with a tribute to late guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour, which had the audience headbanging and shoving each other into the sturdy wooden tables mounted to the floor.
Opening Act: WHOOP-Szo
The furniture at Toboggan sure took a lot of abuse Saturday night. WHOOP-Szo’s confrontational set concluded with Adam Sturgeon forsaking the stage to play guitar atop one of the nearby tables.
It was a badass conclusion to a set that was already pretty wicked. The Guelph band’s grunge-inspired music was heavy yet melodic, with sludgy guitar riffs buried under layers of distortion.
The JUNO Awards air on Sunday, March 17th on CBC. In addition to Sunday’s broadcast, more awards were handed out at the March 16th Gala Dinner and Awards.
Line-up: WHOOP-Szo/ Voivod
Venue: Toboggan Brewing Co., London ON
Date: Saturday, March 16/2019