At Funky Winker Bean’s on Saturday, October 29
Halloween seems superfluous at Funky Winker Bean’s, aka Punky Thrasherbalts. The streets outside are as scary at night as any horror movie, outlandish costumes are the norm, and the usual decorations—including paintings of gothic street lamps on the walls and a behind-the-stage graffiti mural of a giant snake about to chomp down on a hand throwing the goats—obviate the need for carved pumpkins, of which there were exactly none on display last Saturday night.
Still, there were some awesome costumes on hand. The head doorman wore a Michael Myers mask, Witch of the Waste’s long-haired frontman Ryan Fitzgerald was decked out as Jeff Lebowski, and the bassist for Maple Ridge death-metal band Damn the Eyes sported a giant felt lizard suit. Local photographer Bev Davies wore antlers from a deer her parents had shot, looking like a medieval Icelandic sorceress; and some guy in a Canucks jersey provoked the question of whether he was a Canucks fan or just a guy dressed as a Canucks fan. (The answer: “I’m a rioter.”)
The prize, though, went to one Adam Dubeau for his meticulous re-creation of wendythirteen’s hairstyle and jacket, complete with a giant “R.I.P. the Cobalt” patch and a Bathory logo. (Quoth Dubeau: “To me, that says ‘Bathlord’, but I’m a punk guy—what do I know about metal?”) People mistook him throughout the night for the usually unmistakable Thrasherbalts booker and city-council contender, so often that a friend christened him “Wadam-13”.
Damn the Eyes offered an unremitting and brutally masculine take on death-metal catharsis, pummelling the audience with relentless, thuggish passion and ceaseless double-kick machine-gun fire. Witch of the Waste brought a smidgen more funk to the mix and inspired the only moshing in evidence, but also seemed primarily concerned with deep-tissue massage. In contrast, headliner Omega Crom—named for Crom, the fictional pagan god in the Conan stories—had complex, genre-bending arrangements and twin-guitar play that was actually fun to listen to. (Deep-tissue massage is great, but a bit of fun is, well, fun now and then, right?)
Lead vocalist and co–lead guitarist Johnny Tetlo (replacing former frontman Stu Block, now with Iced Earth) name-checked both Megadeth and Judas Priest as influences, and the band covered both during its set (“Five Magics” and “Painkiller”, respectively, with Tetlo effortlessly replicating Rob Halford’s falsetto shrieks). Omega Crom’s set also included highlights from its 2009 release, Blood, Steel & Fire, and closed on “Sundering Blades”, slated to be the group’s next single.
One would never have guessed that Omega Crom’s other lead guitarist, Cliff Dion (wearing a costume that suggested both the pulp-fiction character the Shadow and a villain from a gothic spaghetti western), was basically being auditioned for the band that night, as he traded hot licks with Tetlo. Tetlo told me afterward that the vibe was good and that it looked like Dion got the gig—good thing, because he also had to survive a Downtown Eastside hazing ritual at the hands of a pissed-off local woman who took issue with him after the show.
One can only assume that the abundance of other Halloween events, including Devin Townsend at the Commodore, had something to do with the slim draw at Funky’s, because all three bands that played Saturday night rocked.