Ben Massey | 13/11/22
Wednesday night was nostalgic for me: it marked a resemblance between my life now, and the life I’ve said “see you soon” in the UK. It marked the appearance of one of Canada’s favourite duo acts, The Blue Stones, who put on a show that felt like home for me. They played to a packed crowd at The Ale House: that fact in itself meant something special was coming up.
I hadn’t listened to much of The Blue Stones before moving to Canada, but I remembered them as an alternative act (a keyword here at white noise). Their live sound delivered a bluesy tone which was really refreshing as I haven’t come across many jazz- or blues-infused alternative acts in the UK. They also sustained a rock-oriented sound, but one so removed from dominating their style that it felt fresh and new.
“To see a bigger band from Canada still playing those grassroots venues in smaller Canadian cities humbles the pressured trajectory of artists and spreads awareness of how important beginnings and origins are.”
Being from the UK, I frequently see a bunch of bands coming out of each and every city and breaking into the wider UK rock and metal scene. It feels like there’s a new artist to know about every Friday release day. It is somewhat similar here in Canada; however, it seems a lot more difficult to break out into a scene bigger than your city. What The Blue Stones are doing for the Canadian music scene is so important. To see a bigger band from Canada still playing those grassroots venues in smaller Canadian cities humbles the pressured trajectory of artists and spreads awareness of how important beginnings and origins are.
On the bill for the night were two bands I was very excited to see: Low Hum and BRKN LOVE, both bringing something a little different. I would describe Low Hum as an indie rock act with a Lo-fi spin on things. Fuzzy guitar riffs governed the sound and set the tone for the night to come.
The next set from BRKN LOVE started with lead singer, Justin Benlolo, humbling themselves as “not Led Zeppelin, we’re not cleopatrick, we’re not Badflower but we are BRKN LOVE”, thus setting all expectations and pressures aside, and simply living in the moment, being their authentic selves and doing what they love. I think bands that are down to earth in this way really deserve more praise than they give themselves, especially after the set that they played. BRKN LOVE have this classic rock sound but do so much more to make it more alterative. Now, I know this is a bold claim to make, but Benlolo’s vocals reminded me of Freddy Mercury’s insane ballad-range. This, alongside classic rock instruments, makes for a truly amazing live sound, one that feels insanely time-warp-like. Also, I have to commend the efforts made by the band to even be on this Canadian tour: they had just come off a US tour, driving all the way to Canada from the west coast.
Finally, came on The Blue Stones. In Kingston, we don’t get many widely-known touring bands, and the anticipation from the crowd made that obvious. As they came on stage, a massive cheer erupted. From a photographer’s perspective, I really commend the light show and the band’s outfits. I think having cool lights can actually add so much to your performance and make things look a lot more refined. The studded boots of Lead Tarek Jafar and the leather trousers of percussionist Justin Tessier made a polished aesthetic. Overall, I think polished is the best way to describe their set. An amazing live sound in a venue that doesn’t have live music on all that often is really hard to come by.
I would urge every single one of you to check out any of the bands mentioned in this article. If you get the chance, come to one of these Canadian live shows! Stream The Blue Stone’s new album Pretty Monster here.
Edited by: Roxann Yus
Photos taken by: Ben Massey