Passenger Action delivers, but barely

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Molten Lava

Some performances are bound to be remembered by both the band and audience alike â€" a venue packed with enthusiastic fans would certainly count as one of those circumstances. Unfortunately for Edmonton’s Passenger Action, the band’s performance was not that kind of show.

The biting wind and whiteout conditions Saturday night were enough to keep many music lovers away from Call The Office. Although Call The Office â€" one of the two finalists representing London in CBC Radio 3’s search for the best small venue in the country â€" has seen bigger and more energetic crowds, the room was sufficiently filled. By the time the show had begun, enough people had trickled in to create a respectable audience. The listeners were kind, but also stiff and unenthusiastic.

The show commenced with Molten Lava, a heavy punk duo from Regina. Although its sound came from just a basic set of drums and a heavily distorted bass, the music was surprisingly intricate. Watching the band members was almost as entertaining as listening to them as their instrumental talent was evident.

Some songs in their set were composed of elaborate, melodic riffs and others raw, heavy slamming against the skins and strings. Most songs balanced both elements quite well and all of them were paced such that it wouldn’t be too surprising if any of the head-bangers were left with serious, lifelong neck injuries.

Molten Lava’s downfall, however, came in its lack of quality vocals. While a band that relies on a drummer to sing deserves props, an hour of background music every once in a while accompanied by a voice that sounds like a drunken session of Rock Band can get tired pretty quickly.

The band’s talent and skill did impress, but without a proper singer or enough variety in the set, each song blended into the other and failed to stand out.

After Molten Lava, Passenger Action took stage. Keeping with the lacklustre theme of the night the audience bobbed their heads and spat an occasional “woo” at the band, approving of, but not getting too excited over them. The band had a somewhat lighter punk sound than its openers but still decidedly harder than a run-of-the-mill punk band.

While there was nothing terribly wrong with the band’s set, it was difficult to find anything special in it. Much of the band’s music felt contrived and ordinary. The band’s sound was not unlike something one might hear by turning on the radio at random, enjoying a song and forgetting it soon after.

Though Molten Lava lacked a key element to fully express its talent and Passenger Action lacked the originality to stand apart from most bands, both performances proved worthwhile â€" but forgettable. Even in awful weather, a five-dollar show is rarely a heartbreaker.

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