Farewell, Belvedere

Concert Review: Belvedere, Farewell Tour @ The Scherzo, Nov. 12

This past Saturday night, the Scherzo Pub played host to Belvedere’s last road show ever.

Hailed as one of Canada’s pioneer punk bands, Belvedere has been together since 1995 and put out four full-length albums as well as several singles.

The band decided to call it quits in May and has been on a farewell tour of Ontario and Quebec since the beginning of November. With both Thirty Nights of Violence and The Full Blast among the four opening bands, the show started with guitars, drums and a whole lot of head banging. And while each band was able to distinguish itself from the others, there was a common thread of tribute that ran through the show.

“[Belvedere was] a staple of the Canadian punk scene for years,” said Terry Benn, lead singer of opener The Dying Race, midway through their set.

Thirty Nights of Violence took the stage after The Dying Race, and while their music didn’t inspire any moshing, the crowd that gathered around the stage was tight and definitely engaged. There wasn’t a head in the audience that didn’t nod to the rhythms produced by the guitars and drums.

With a range of vocal stylings that included screaming, growling, and song, the boys of Thirty Nights kept the energy level of the audience at high. Toronto band The Full Blast rocked onto the small Scherzo stage after Thirty Nights and had the full attention of the audience from the moment they picked up their guitars. Their set was a solid combination of old and new songs, which revved the audience up to an excited frenzy. Moshing, head banging, and cheers from the crowd proved that The Full Blast was the right band to play right before Belvedere. Ian Stanger, lead singer for The Full Blast, said that they were just thankful to be brought along on Belvedere’s last tour.

On the last night of their last tour, Belvedere opened their set with the old and played right up to the most recent. Although the majority of the songs they played were from their newest album Fast Forward Eats the Tape, they covered all the crowd favourites.

Despite mic trouble during the first two songs that made it impossible to hear the lyrics, the boys of Belvedere weren’t fazed and, with the glitches fixed, they proceeded to rock the socks off everyone in the audience.

“This is how hard Kingston is rocking tonight ... we broke a [guitar] strap in the third song!” lead vocalist Steve Rawles declared.

When Belvedere played the crowd favourite “Brandywine,” the audience pulsed with the beat of music. During the second round of the chorus, Rawles offered his mic out to the audience, who sang with everything they had. In that moment, Belvedere cast a spell over the crowd and held them completely captivated.

The energy coming from the audience was palpable, and despite the small stage, Belvedere made themselves a huge presence. After playing a long set, including some audience requests, Belvedere said goodnight. No sooner had they left the stage however, the crowd began chanting “Belvedere! One more song!”

The band hardly made it into the band room before they turned back to retake the stage.

“Who came here for rock and roll?” Rawles yelled. The audience cheered back in an enthusiastic response.

The last song Belvedere ever played on the road was “Closed Doors” from Fast Forward Eats the Tape, a fitting goodbye to the audience that has grown with them over the past ten years.

The boys of Belvedere plan to stay in music, though. They’ve all done producing work and two of their members are in new bands. Jason Walters now plays in Fallout Frequency and Graham Churchill is playing drums in Thirty Nights of Violence.

“[Our farewell has] been a lot of fun for us and the kids have been very appreciative,” Rawles said. “[We] play what [the audience] wants [and we] play what we want.”

After they were finished playing, the bandmates stuck around the Scherzo, signing autographs, taking pictures, and answering questions from their fans.

“[Belvedere] kept it fast and they kept it real,” said D of The Full Blast, when asked why Belvedere had built up such a following. “They sort of brought the West coast to the East coast.”

Before leaving the stage at the very end of the show, Rawles thanked his bandmates by name and then thanked the audience, many of whom had gone to several of the shows on this tour.

“We’ll always remember you guys,” Rawles said as he pointed out into the audience. After their tour finishes, Belvedere will be playing one last show in their hometown of Calgary on Nov. 19.

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