While hostelling in Europe a few years ago, a travelling companion of this reviewer was appalled by the sea of beer cans and wantonly destructive demolition-derby antics evident in Red Fang’s videos for “Prehistoric Dog” and “Wires” (we still find the footage, directed by the band’s resident video genius, Whitey, hilarious.) Judging by the surging waves of crowdsurfers at Vancouver’s Venue last Thursday however, fans of the band certainly have no problem indulging in the occasional vicarious thrill set to a soundtrack of groove-oriented heavy rock.
One has attended several shows of various sizes by openers Black Wizard (the highlight of which remains their enthusiastic, last-minute fill-in slot opening for Sleep at the Commodore last March), and their latest set demonstrated a relaxed confidence which is undoubtedly the byproduct of playing solid gigs on a regular basis; the groove sorcerers clearly know their musical incantations backwards and forwards by now and raised the bar right from the start.
After seeing their New Year’s Eve set supporting Yob, there was no question for this reviewer whether or not the upward momentum established by Black Wizard would continue with Bison. Their complex stoner riffage remains a mesmerizing blend of heavy pummelling and deft maneuvering rooted in with a firmly-grounded sense of timing (and delivered with perpetual glee, courtesy of drummer Matt Wood.)
The last time one witnessed a live Red Fang performance it was during their tour with Mastodon several years ago, but the same intense focus and energy onstage was on display last Thursday. Emphatic crowd response for the aforementioned singles “Prehistoric Dog” and “Wires” suggests those songs have attained the status of universal fan favourites, songs from subsequent album Whales and Leeches such as “Blood Like Cream” were equally welcomed with moshing arms and one looks forward to the release of new material this fall.
On to the photos!
(Click to enlarge:)