So let’s start off with the this….
Last time I saw Hugh Dillon and the rest of the boys of The Headstones rippin’ the stage up was October 16, 1996 at Durham College. I recall EP Taylors being pretty packed at the time and some goof in the front continually throwing his beer at Hugh. After a warning by one of Canada’s best front men, he did it once more. Hugh climbed into the audience grabbed the guy, gave him a couple quick shots and then got back up on stage and didn’t miss a beat. All I could think about was, shit, that was intense. Well, that my friends is the rock and roll life of the Headstones. Hard Core…
When Hugh hit the stage in Barrie on Friday night at The Ranch his first words were “It’s nice to be back at the fuckin’ Ranch” The crowd screamed, yelled and chugged its beer in a toast to the Headstones returning to one of Barrie’s storied venues. Now lets not get to far ahead of ourselves because on Friday the boys had some friends opening the show. Barrie’s own The Road Heavy and Glass Ampp hit the stage for some solid performances.
The night kicked off with The Road Heavy, a band made up of local musicians Ryan Blake, Jules Cardoso, Pat James, Andre DaSilva and Jeff Cox the band is based out of Aurora, Ontario but travel far and wide for gigs. On Friday they needn’t travel far as Barrie isn’t far up the 400. Not having seen the band perform before I was excited to get my first look and if you’re a fan of Rock & Roll these folks don’t disappoint. From the moment they stepped on stage they rocked. Heavy guitars melting with the sweet raw voice of Jules Cardoso made for a strong opening set from the Road Heavy. Not knowing the names of all the songs it was I believe the 3rd song Don’t Give A Damn (sorry if that isn’t the title)but that seemed to really get the crowd jammin’ along and was my personal favourite of the 40 min set.
Next up was Glass Ampp, another local-ish (Maple Area) band that seems to making waves in the Ontario rock scene. With one of the most animated guitarist (Gianluca Mauro) I have seen in years and a sound similar to Three Doors Down these fellas bring it. The heavy guitar riffs backed by the strong vocals of Steve Porretta have this very tight band going places. The set these guys put on for 40 min was solid. From the opening riff to the closing vocal, the boys seemed hit a chord with the crowd. I would have to put these boys as worthy of another watch that is for sure.
Now for the main event. As mentioned earlier it had been a long 19 years since my last Headstones show. But tonight I felt I was reliving the 90’s all over again. The guys opened with the track Bin This Way For Years off the Love+Fury album. And it was balls to the walls from then on in. As the boys set the pace hammering through the first seven songs it wasn’t till they got to song number eight of the set that things went back, way back for me. Tweeter and the Monkey Man was a song I cranked on a daily basis as I drove around my small hometown of Arnprior from say 93-95 and I mean daily. Feel free to call up Mr. Cuccaro (Principal at ADHS) and see if he had asked me on a few occasions NOT to play that song while pulling into the High School (It happened more than once) But never stopped me.
It was no surprise these guys had fans of all ages and demographics back in the 90’s cause they were what Rock and Roll was all about back then. Good, hard rockin’ fun. Well none of that has changed. The band has gotten older as has their fans, but the music hasn’t changed one bit. It’s still aggressive, in your face, fist pumpin anthem rock. And when the boys cut into the 2nd half of the set it was one of my favourite back half sets in YEARS… With Tweeter, Cubically Contained, Three Angels and Unsound to name a few of the hits the boys pounded out for the lucky concert goers. Funny how standing there my mind went back to all the awesome bands from the 90’s like I Mother Earth, Moist, Our Lady Peace and The Watchmen to name a few of my personal favourites. The stories that Hugh Dillon tells through song, such as Tweeter or Cemetery are something that you almost hear more in a Country song today. Maybe not the context of the songs themselves but how the songs really do tell a story. The Headstones have smart lyrics with a thunderous sound. With the 900+ fans crammed into the Ranch it was evident that 90’s rock is alive and well 2015. If you get a chance to see The Headstones at any upcoming shows such as in Toronto at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on December 11th. Grab your tickets here for that show trust me they won’t disappoint!
Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76
Photos By: Scott Burns / @sburnsimages