Any sunny day spent near Ramsey Lake is generally time well spent, and June 7 at the Grace Hartman Amphitheatre, the natural beauty of Bell Park proved the perfect backdrop to an evening showcasing some of Canada’s hottest rock acts.
Despite setbacks including having to replace the headliner with only a week’s notice and technical difficulties that delayed the start time of the concert, New Music Fest organizers worked hard to deliver a lineup that ran the gamut of rock and left an enthusiastic audience clamouring for more.
The festival began with the hook-laden rock 'n' roll of Q92 Rock Band Rumble champions Echoes the Lion, who looked and sounded completely at home on the big stage despite the large crowd, running through their memorable songs with ease.
They were followed by the triple guitar assault of Golden Gate Graves, who incorporated a spot-on Alice in Chains cover into their set to the delight of the '90s grunge fans in attendance.
Next up was Gentlemen Husbands, whose more laid-back bent was the perfect soundtrack to the rapidly setting sun. Then, Glorious Sons treated listeners to some Lynryd Skynyrd-style party anthems as the night crept in.
The darkness brought the heavy riffs, rock-solid melodies and soaring vocals of Monster Truck, and judging by the number of their T-shirts on display in the crowd, they were the most eagerly anticipated act of the evening. They did not disappoint, delivering a blistering set that was greeted by rapturous cheering throughout.
Closing out the night was Big Wreck. They proved a more than worthy replacement for Theory of a Deadman, who cancelled after their singer developed laryngitis.
Big Wreck played a set that incorporated some of their alt-rock hits from the late 1990s and early 2000s, including “The Oaf (My Luck is Wasted),” and “Blown Wide Open,” as well as newer material.
Their new single, “Ghosts,” had a solid groove and nuanced texturing that really got the crowd moving and recalled elements of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”
Big Wreck’s sound perfectly suited the outdoor venue, as the thoughtful arrangements sailed with crystal clarity over the audience.
In a way, the compressed timeline of the event worked to the advantage of the evening as a whole. The rapid changeovers and shortened set times ensured that no act overstayed its welcome or wasted even a minute of stage time. Because of this, those present were treated to a fast-paced, entertaining and energetic evening of music.
New Music Fest was a great kick-off to what promises to be a fantastic summer of concerts and arts events in Sudbury.
Now that it has passed, music fans looking for more rock spectacle can mark July 4-6 on their calendars for Northern Lights Festival Boréal and its attendant headliners Bruce Cockburn, Wintersleep and Tokyo Police Club.