Band names don’t always identify their sound, image or musicianship.
Some borrow from literature (Modest Mouse); others borrow from their grandmother’s name (Pearl Jam) or her favorite song (Deep Purple). But then there are the others, the ones whose name matches their style, power and delivery so accurately that it’s almost too perfect. Hamilton, Ont.’s Monster Truck is one of these bands.
On Thursday night, the 2013 Juno winner for Breakthrough Group of the Year introduced The Waiting Room’s compact crowd to its own brand of Canadian throttle rock, wielding guitar, bass, drums and keys like four monstrous wheels waiting to crush canned beer-hoisting fans like a line of American sedans. And, over 13 songs of relentless power and fist-pumping pleasers, Monster Truck never took its foot off the gas.
The band’s first headlining gig in Buffalo comes between spending the summer touring with the rebooted Alice in Chains and back-to-back Detroit dates with Kid Rock and ZZ Top this weekend. Based on the bands two EPs (“The Brown,” “Monster Truck”) and its first full-length Dine Alone Records release, “Furiosity,” the band is traveling with like-minded company. Guitarist Jeremy Widerman and bassist/lead vocalist Jon Harvey storm forth with a dark tone similar to that evoked from Alice in Chains, as well as a straight-ahead rock thrust of both their Michigan billmates. (For reference, on “Furiosity,” find “Call It A Spade,” with fierce chord progressions reminiscent of ZZ Top’s “La Grange.”) Add Brandon Bliss’ organ work and Steve Kiely’s shattered drum kit to the tight mix and the explosive grit of Wolfmother and Thin Lizzy come to the mind and ears.
Once on stage, the bearded quartet unleashed these influences in a thick barrage of sweaty, guitar-heavy deliveries. A denim-vested Widerman got things started with locomotive force on “The Lion,” leading the way before Harvey’s howl stormed to the forefront. “Furiosity’s” first single, “Sweet Mountain River” followed, which balanced Widerman and Kiely’s instrumental power with Harvey’s longing, anthemic vocals. But are songs about escaping the city to find the wilderness, a little water and a hot mountain woman supposed to be delivered with such diesel-fueled ferocity? They are now, thanks to Canada’s reigning up-and-comers who would prefer to soundtrack a tour through Mother Nature with a double-cab full of dynamite.
But, after churning out this river-yearn, Monster Truck kicked the mountain-related hooks to the side and, instead, worked the crowd into a lather via Gibson-delivered riffs on “Old Train” and the stomp-inducing scorchers “Seven Seas Blues” and “Righteous Smoke.” By the time the quartet unleashed the punk rock-paced ruckus of “Love Attack” for the encore, Monster Truck had already proven worthy of its name. Monstrous sound and crushing power – both from a band that keeps things rolling.
Supporting Monster Truck were Lockport rockers Handsome Jack, whose Southern-tinged, guitar-led meandering was the perfect complement to the Hamilton headliners’ straight-ahead style.
Bassist Joey Verdonselli and guitarist/lead vocalist Jamison Passuite led the band through Peter Wolf-flavored tracks like “Mary Louise” off 2012’s “Supermoon,” as well as into a solid cover of Dan Auerbach’s “My Last Mistake” amid an opening set of bourbon-scented tunes that would have made the Black Crowes raise a glass.