Back for Black

If you’ve never been to Coop Katacombes on Saint Laurent, you probably feel the same way I did about it.

The matte black exterior highlights the fact that there are no windows, and gives the impression of a place that can’t be anything but dark and dirty on the inside. It had never before even crossed my mind to enter.

Still, there I was on May 30, standing in line to get in for the Seb Black album release. Once there I was far less intimidated, and immediately impressed by the stage area. There was lots of dancing room, but what caught my attention was the upstairs balcony that had lots of seating and a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the action. With such a good view of both the band and the crowd, that’s where I found my post.

I must admit, Seb Black is not really my go-to type of music and I don’t think it’s something I would listen to by myself, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the performance.

The distribution of the instruments was unique. A single tambourine was passed around the stage, but what was even more interesting was lead singer Seb Black’s added drumming throughout the show. Complex rhythms driving the songs, they rarely kept to one instrument—bassist Bill Bezner even pulled out a stand-up bass at one point.

The visual effects and lighting varied almost as much as the instruments did and were quite well thought-out. There was a smoke machine and everything, and at one point I noticed a single, somehow vintage-looking light bulb hanging over the stage. It was a nice touch.

Above all, though, Black is a good performer. He created a very good connection with the audience and it felt like he was telling some sort of story. The only problem is that I didn’t really care about what he was telling us. The lyrics certainly need some work. Seb Black is not the only band to have ‘just okay’ lyrics, but he performs in a way that makes you want to listen to them—so he’s going to have to give them some more thought.

The vocals weren’t nearly as prominent live as they are in the album, making it less abrasive and allowing for more focus on the other instruments. However, there was noticeable reverb on his voice, and when it’s noticeable that’s a sign that they need to tone it down.

The backup vocals were a very nice touch, and they added an almost sweet musicality to an otherwise rough sound—not that rough is a bad thing—and it’s clearly what the band is going for.

It was impossible not to notice that the crowd loved the show. Everyone was dancing down on the ground. For better or for worse, the rock ballad is still going strong.

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