The other day, I drove 1.5 hrs from home to Kamloops, BC to see Vancouver band State of Shock. Each way. Too far to go? Not on your life -this is State of Shock we’re talking about!
The band has been working with Long and McQuade at various locations as they cross Canada on their current tour – at most stores the band does an acoustic set list before signing autographs for fans in the store. The Kamloops store is too small for a 5 ‘man’ band and so this night it was just an autograph signing – and giving away a brand new Long and McQuade guitar signed by the band, to one lucky fan. (a guitar giveaway is done at each store).
The band was fashionably late due to scheduling conflict and personally apologized to the fans waiting at the store – nobody seemed to mind though. The band wandered the store chatting to people one-on-one and signing State of Shock posters, taking photos with fans and waiting for all entries into the draw to be completed. The winning name was drawn, and one of the band suggested a personal phone call to the winner. Guitarist Kadooh (beanie hiding his trademark blond mohawk) did the phone call and our half of the conversation gave us “no, I’m not shitting you, this really is Kadooh from State of Shock and yes you really did win.” The incredulous fan was down to the store in about 5 minutes flat to pick up his winning guitar, and the band made sure that he got a picture with them all – guitarist Jesse Wainright ensuring that he had the photo on his own camera as well (he records each and every winner while they’re on tour). After a few more autographs and hugs, the band left to do whatever bands do prior to the show – which I also attended.
Despite it being a Monday night, a later start (10:30pm) and not much local publicity for the show, the venue was jam packed with people braving the cold to come see State of Shock rock it like only they can! They jumped on stage and ripped into the title track of Life, Love, and Lies with full on energy. The crowd (which was giving the stage a comfortable buffer zone despite no barriers and no bouncers) ate it up singing the chorus and jumping to the melody. With no stopping between songs the band launched into Hearts that Bleed and Too Pretty which had the crowd (and the band) pogo-ing. Singer Cam Melnyk addressed the audience telling us he was going to sing us a ballad – The Best I Ever Had – and as he sang he knelt down right on the edge of the stage, took a girl’s hand, looked her in the eyes and sang directly to her much to her delight (and her friends’ envy). By the time the band started into the next song, the audience had tossed aside all thoughts of a discrete buffer zone and we were literally hanging on the edge of the stage – much to the delight of the band who genuinely love their audiences and encourage that closeness.
The remainder of the setlist consisted of most of the tracks from ‘Life, Love and Lies’ including Honeymoon’s Over, Different Day, Stupid Lives, Pieces of You, Money Honey (which wasn’t on their set list), and some songs I was unfamiliar with, including Rollin (which I really love!). The band seemed to have minor sound issues at one point but nobody noticed as they took it in stride – the band left the stage to sort it out as Cam sang a Pearl Jam song accompanied by guitarist Jesse Wainright who sat on a bar stool with an acoustic guitar… the crowd loved it and it gave Cam a chance to highlight his voice without the added drums and electric. By the time the song was over, the band was back on stage to kick it up a notch if that was possible! And they did.
What I really love about State of Shock is that they all move! I don’t know how many bands I’ve seen over the last year that stand in one spot glued to the floor (or their guitar pedal boards), seemingly frozen by fright…. this band moves. Kadooh and Jesse switch spots frequently to use each other’s microphones and give fans a chance to see them; fans aren’t going to push and shove to the other side of the stage to see a different band member so this is brilliant on the band’s part. Bassist Alley Toews bounces around too – sometimes so bad that she has bruises on her hip from bashing into Kadooh or Jesse. Cam too moves – and all band members frequently stand by the drummer, Johnny Philiippon who has a style that is unique; he’s got flair without being flashy. I’d like to say he’s the hardest working member of this band – most drummers are – but this band all work equally hard! And the great thing is they’re having fun at the same time; it shows on their faces and the faces of the crowd in front of them.
A few more songs, a few guitar picks tossed out to the audience and sadly, it was over. The band waved their goodbye’s, Johnny tossed his sticks out to a few lucky fans, and that was it – however, the house PA system announced that the band would be out in the foyer in 15 minutes to sign autographs and meet with the fans. Very Cool!
If State of Shock is hitting your city, be sure to go see this hard working, fun loving, kick ass rock band. I drove 2 hrs to see them without hesitation – they’re that good.
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