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Mary Shall Burn and Crutch @ City Lights

Ben Krawec
March 07, 2011

Before I go into this article, I'd just like to point out for the obtuse. the stupid and the easily offended that I have absolutely no plans to cause Stephen Harper bodily harm and I'm not trying to incite an angry mob to march on parliament with torches and pitchforks. I would absolutely love to, don't get me wrong, but there are a great many things I would love to do that are not necessarily a good idea, like get into fisticuffs with a kodiak grizzly. So keep that in mind before you email me angrily for encouraging violence against politicians. Although, I can't think of why anybody would be offended at the mental image of Stephen Harper getting a face full of angry
forehead. I will go into how this ties into the music in the next paragraph.

Live music makes me really happy on a number of different levels. First and foremost, I like listening to music. I don't need to explain that much further. I also enjoy the chance to meet new friends, dance around a bit and see tangible proof that something good comes out of this region besides fruit and booze made out of fruit. One of the main reasons I like it is because it shows me that people give a f*** about issues facing our culture. GamePlan has had numerous good things to say about Mary Shall Burn because they're a solid band that makes great music. Their thunderous, pulsing, hard rock sound with traces of heavy metal to add a little extra "HELL YEAH" to the music has been praised over and over, so I'm going to stop. A huge part of what makes seeing them so enjoyable for me is the fact that their very existence as a band is a big "F*** YOU!" to the Harper government. If you're kinda dim and the pun went over your head, Mary Shall Burn is a pretty direct marijuana reference. Right away their band's name declares that they have every intention of burning some marijuana despite its illegality. Its not, "If it becomes decriminalized we'll smoke a little pot" or, "If there aren't any police looking we'll smoke a bowl," it's "Mary Shall Burn." When I kept that in mind, songs like, "You and What Army" sounded a little less like a general expression of anger and more like a call to arms against the idiocy that guts our country in the name of obedience. By the end of their set I definitely felt like head-butting Stephen Harper in the face, and that's a feeling that keeps me warm at night. Also worth noting is the fact that their lead singer bears a striking resemblance to 'The Dude' from the Big Lebowski.

Crutch had a hard act to follow but they impressed the hell out of me. Right away I was blown away by the versatility of their singer. The way he was able to fine-tune the texture of his voice, deliver his lyrics clearly while singing a rough section and do everything from croon to rap kept the audience guessing as to what they were going to hear next. Another interesting thing that made my ears prick up was their manipulation of tempo. In the first song their steady increase from slow and relatively soft to fast and heavy built up the energy in the room masterfully. Each member of the band seemed to bring a different background to the music, with musical styles from punk to metal to grunge. For a number of bands this is a pitfall that results in a disjointed sound that leaves you thinking that maybe the band aren't agreeing on what song they're playing but Crutch made it blend together seamlessly and turned that into a strength. My only complaint is that while at some times they pulled out some exotic and interesting tricks, at times they were in danger of sounding generic, like another Creed/Nickelback clone band. Crutch was at their best when they were putting a unique twist on traditional rock and putting things into their music that you don't hear that often, at their worst they sounded like a talented but typical bar band.

Regardless, I definitely enjoyed their show and I can't wait to see them again, especially if they have any more original material next time around. Also, they called Dalton McGuinty a douche, which gives them an extra three thumbs up in my books.

This article was brought to you by Benjamin Krawec and the number 4.