The Rendezvous Pub hosted a number of bands Sunday, Sept. 2. Two of the opening bands, Shotgunner and Fear of City from Edmonton, were already off the stage by the time I arrived at the pub. The two final bands travelled from Vancouver to provide a great show filled with heavy rock and metal music. Arriving around 8:30 p.m., the pub was rather mellow with people sitting around and chatting at tables. All that changed when Damsel got on the stage.
Damsel is a five-member rock band from Vancouver that plays a mix of hard rock genres. The band was high-energy and drew the eyes and ears of everyone in the pub — and not just because of the volume. Clad in shiny and leopard-print shirts with big hair, the band felt like a refreshing take on the ‘80s bands that sparked the rock revolution. The band played a lot of original music, but even though I didn’t know the songs I was able to follow the music and they were well put together.
The band itself was highly energetic and charismatic. Even with a relatively small stage they moved around well and kept the audience engaged. The lead and rhythm guitarists, Kieran and Alec Marquis, respectively, and bass guitarist, Saqib Bhatti, would often coordinate their movements with the music and provided a great visual. The lead singer, Staci Heart, moved around on stage and even jumped off to interact with the crowd. Obviously, the drummer, Andy Jeffs, did not leave his post, but was entertaining to watch nonetheless. Altogether, the band showed the audience that even though they were serious musicians, they were having the time of their lives on stage — and invited the audience to join them.
Gatekeeper, the main event of the evening, was also a great show. Gatekeeper plays epic heavy metal, a genre that combines traditional metal with symphonic and high-speed elements. Many of the patrons rushed to the stage when Gatekeeper started to play, in what I could describe as a mellow mosh pit. The symphonic aspects of Gatekeeper’s music were immediately evident to me, and I really enjoyed how powerful the music felt.
The band members interacted really well with each other and the crowd, also did really well on the small stage. Jean-Pierre (JP) Abboud, the lead vocalist, has a powerful voice, as do all the other chorus members, which include Jeffrey Black (also both the rhythm and lead guitarist) and David Messier, who is also the bass player. Other members, Kenny Kroecher (lead guitar) and Tommy Tro (percussion) were also great to watch on stage, and the bands musical skill was well displayed.
The two bands I saw of the night were, although very different in style, fantastic shows. Damsel has a stage presence that draws you in, letting the audience have fun along side the band — with some really good music to boot. Gatekeeper provides a classic metal experience with the symphonic element that makes it easier to follow and move with. Overall, the show was great and I hope the two bands come back to Edmonton as promised.