Citizens Unite and Mob Machine at the Roxy
written by Chris van Staalduinen
It was local hard rock at it’s best on Friday night at the Roxy and I was lucky enough to get out and get a piece of the action for myself. If there was any doubt as to whether Vancouver has a current hard rock scene, Mob Machine and Citizens Unite shattered those doubts like an eardrum.
Mob Machine opened up with their talent and energy on full display. I have to confess I hadn’t heard them before, but I won’t make that mistake again. Lead singer Johnny de Farias has a great voice, reminiscent of Candlebox’s Kevin Martin in range and carry. Lead guitarist Rafa Bienzeno and the deadly rhythm section support him with speedy, heavy old school riffs. The highlight of their set was the medley of songs by recently deceased artists – Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”, STP’s “Vasoline”, Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Bowie’s “Jean Genie”. It was thoughtful, original and inspirational. Nice job!
Citizens Unite followed up with a tight, ear bleeder of a set, mixing songs from their new album “Liberate” with a couple from their self titled EP. The new stuff is awesome, ripping a hole through previous incarnations of “hard” rock by lesser bands. These dudes are amazing, driven and committed. Drummer Cameron and bassist Dave are the engine driving this metal machine and both are outstanding at providing a thumping, heavy backbone. Guitarist Kai’s powerful licks are still spinning in my head and lead vocalist Paul did his best to reincarnate Layne Staley’s vocal energy. In my humble opinion, Paul D’Eath’s voice is stronger and better than the now-deceased AIC lead, with much better range. I’m not saying that Paul means to “reincarnate Layne’s voice”, it’s the raw, 110% energy that feels Layne-ish, but he is definitely his own man and vocalist.
The beauty of Citizens Unite is in it’s heart and humility. These are all respected, talented musicians that could easily be defined by ego and entitlement, based on their history. Instead, there’s not a trace – each member is committed to being one quarter of this band and no one is above working hard and earning everything they will ever get. Hopefully soon they will be defined by that talent and hard work, rather than by the bands they used to be in. This is watching a band from it’s genesis to its eventual success – each step taken is a challenge, but not one that they won’t face and destroy.
The band also put its courage and beliefs on the line during the show, stopping the frenzied crowd mid-mosh to talk about the anti-bullying campaign that they’re involved with. They support the Amanda Todd Legacy fund, which raises awareness and funds for anti-bullying. Serious props to these gents as not only do they talk the talk, but contribute their time, energy and funds to this cause. That takes guts and integrity – two things these boys have in spades.
Overall, it was a spectacular night of local hard rock, blending new bands and old, new songs and old and making new fans amongst the old. The only regret was the length of the show. Despite a fairly small crowd and the young “pop” crowd filling the Roxy at the end, the calls for “encore” and “one more song” went on for several minutes. I’m sure the show length was pre-determined, so it’s a compliment to the boys rather than a complaint about the time. Props, as well, to the Roxy for putting on live, local music. The local scene needs exposure through local venues. One thing it doesn’t need is an infusion of hard rock from outside Vancouver – the locals have it well covered.
Pick up Citizens Unite new album ‘Liberate’ and Mob Machine’s ‘Silence of a Gun’, as soon as possible for your hard rock fix! And check out their new video ‘pUsh’ HERE
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written by Chris van Staalduinen