Protest The Hero Live in Kelowna BC: A Night of Insanity & Devastating Moshpits [Review]

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When you think of a nightclub you don’t often imagine mosh pits, or metal music. However on the frigid night of December 9th, 2016, Level Night Club in Kelowna, B.C. was filled with nothing but. The small, jam packed nightclub had no idea the shit-storm it was about receive from the hardcore acts, Cyclamen, Auras, A Wilhelm Scream, and Protest The Hero. The staff security was up for a massive challenge, and would met it head on in what would be a night of insanity, devastating mosh-pits, and awe-inspiring live performances from groups as a whole and some artists individually. The bitter cold wait outside would prove to be worth the wait and pain as fans would experience an exhilarating night that wouldn’t be forgotten any time soon.

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The first act of the night, Cyclamen, hailing all the way from Tokyo, Japan were already on the stage as frozen concert goers rushed inside to thaw out and rid themselves of the frost they’d accumulated waiting to get through the doors. Without warning, the group broke into their first song and scared the shit out of everyone in the room. This seemed to be their norm as lead singer Hayato Imanishi would say one or two words before diving into the next song with a sudden crash of a symbols coming from drummer Hitoshi Hoshino’s drum kit.

Despite the smaller audience, the group played a solid set and people who did see them perform were consumed by the band’s sound and threw down as best they could in a mosh pit with small attendance. Imanishi actually joined in on the mosh pit at one point, whilst still providing vocals to for the song the band was playing. One thing that stood out to me about Cyclamen’s set, was guitarist Takashi Katsunori who is an absolute machine. His style of intricacy and consistent movement is impressive and although seems similar to Protest The Hero’s guitarist, Tim Millar’s style, Katsunori’s talent is incredible to watch and listen to – giving Cyclamen a memorable sound that truly stands out.

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Now that the larger majority of those attending the concert has shuffled through the doors, the second band, Auras, took to the stage. After a quick introduction from singer and guitarist Josh Ligaya, the group began what would be a punishing set for Level Nightclub and the people on the main floor. Eric Almeida has some fucking pipes. For those who had never heard a song from Auras were mind blown by the depth and power in Almeida’s voice as his scream filled the nightclub and fueled the fists and elbows that were flying in the now sizeable mosh-pit.

Not only was Almeida’s voice something that caught the audience’s attention, but also the expression on his face as he screamed his lyrics. He looks like a god-damn maniac, but it only added to the brutality of Auras’ performance. The band’s set was short, but left a massive impact on the crowd, energizing everyone early into the night and also impacting them physically as few people walked out from the main floor to the bathroom bleeding from some newly created minor orifices.

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The brutality continued with A Wilhelm Scream. The punk-rock group from New Bedford Massachusetts played a wildly entertaining set, and for some, even stole the show. After halfway through their act, Nuno Pereira swore they’d be back to play more shows in the near future. Pereira praised Kelowna for the warm welcome as it was the group’s first time playing the mountain city. The group continued their set and although A Wilhelm scream doesn’t share the same musical sound as the other bands in the tour, their high energy and fast paced tempo in their songs fired up the crowd and had everyone moving in what was now an overcrowded and savage mosh pit, that consumed tons of casualties as many onlookers close to the stage with mowed over.

At one point during the performance, the audience lifted someone in a wheelchair above the crowd and slowly began moving toward the stage, through the mosh-pit. Although a tragic ending seemed immanent, the crowd worked together to ensure the safety of the person occupying the wheelchair as he floated atop the audience.  Only at a metal/punk show will you see comradery like that between complete and total strangers. A Wilhelm Scream played their last song, and while everyone on stage began packing up, the audience began to chant, “One more song!”

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Late into the night, the lights went dim, and the long awaited Protest The Hero emerged onto the low lit stage. With no introduction needed, the group fired up and tore through their first song, creating more carnage in the audience and bringing the excitement levels to a high of the night. During live performances, no aspect of the band’s sound quality is sacrificed, especially lead vocalist, Rody Walker’s vocal abilities, which were on full display for the evening. Equipped with a positive sense of humour and impressive stage presence, Walker is the epitome of a perfect front-man.

Walker’s interaction with the crowd was lengthy in between songs, but gave the gig a much more intimate vibe, which concert-goers and long time fan appreciated. The band played a solid set, as guitarists Tim Millar and Luke Hoskins tore apart the venue with their convoluted and sophisticated riffs that played a key role in the high energy now flowing through the venue.  Protest the Hero played a wide array of songs from old to new, including the fan favourite, “Bloodmeat (2008)” which got one of the biggest reactions from the crowd.

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Although every band did perform well, it seemed that vocal performances really shined throughout the night and having the evening capped with Rody Walker’s vocal strength was a great way to close out the show. In what was also a showcasing in musical talent, it was very clear that each group had gained some new supporters and left they’re mark in Kelowna, BC. The rigorous tour continues across Canada until December 18th, 2016. Be sure to check and see if the tour is coming to your home town, because it’s a show you’ll kick yourself for missing.