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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Concert Review: Verner Caliper

Billiard Club/Pub 161, Friday May 30


I need to take a little time for a small rant:
The Billiard Club charges $1.75 for an 8 ounce cup of pop that comes filled to the top with ice. So in reality, you are paying almost 2 bucks for about 3 ounces of pop. The bartender also said that on weekends, "we only sell bottled water. We have to make money somehow." This was on a Friday night and the place was dead. Perhaps if they didn't charge 2 bucks for a pop or water, more people who show up? Water should be free, and hell, pop should be free too. God, I wished I owned a bar.

My recommendation: If you are the designated driver, or simply don't want to drink alcohol, walk over to Tim Horton's and get a FREE water, or simply bring your own beverage.


On to the review:
I was going to review the entire show, but I had to leave early for various reasons. So I am only reviewing the opener, Verner Caliper.


As a friend from out of town who was at the show said, "they don't sound like anyone!" Which is true. Try as I might, i could not, and can not, label this band. However, since people like to label everything in terms that are familiar to them, I will describe the band in generic genre-terms as "groovy hard rock." This is one of those rare creatures in rock music... a band with an original sound. While their website lists influences ranging from "Radiohead to Rage Against the Machine," you can't really hear the influence of any other band.

Their first three songs were evidently so new that they haven't been named yet, although all three were incredibly tight, groovy hard rock songs. The third song in the set had a couple awkward transitions, but was otherwise tightly played, tightly structured, and an all around great hard rock tune. Unlike the previous two songs, Andy Clark (singer/guitarist) turned his voice into a menacing growl and played a sick quitar solo mid-song.

That's Why is a quick, groovy hard rock song that could be a single if they wanted it to be. It's short enough for the kiddies to not get bored, heavy enough for the dudes and melodic enough for the chicks, and displays just enough technical precision for snobs to like it.

Our Flaws are Logical starts out as another groove induced hard rock song, however, it seemed to go on forever. I found myself zoning out several times and wondering if i was still listening to the same song. It's good, but maybe shave off a minute or two?

The bass player, Andy W, is perhaps one of the most startlingly adept musicians to grace a 4-string that i've seen in the city. He constantly switches styles of play during songs. I just wanted to put this out there because bassists are often overlooked.


I didn't catch the name of the next song, but it started out as a slow, quiet ballad and rapidly progressed into a full-bore hard rock jam. Towards the end was a crazy-fast guitar solo, which immediately dropped the song back down into slow tempo. Very nice, very interesting.

The song Background is on
VC's Myspace page, but the recording on Myspace does not do the song justice. Played live, the song is ridiculous. This, like most of their songs, is simply a technical marvel, but is not inaccessible to those without a critical mind.

The band broke the mood with a strange and delightful southern fried ditty called Scrambled Eggs on a Paper Plate. Hilarious, fun and quick, this was a great song to break the hard rock/metal tension built up from the previous songs. I think it should have come a little earlier in the set though.

Lacking a better place to bring it up, Jimmy the drummer, is simply fun to watch. He doesn't just play his kit, he beats the shit out of it. It's like he hates the drums and is trying to make his drum kit pay for that hatred.


Verner Caliper ended their set with a song called Sick In Sin. Simply put, this was fucking amazing and a brilliant song to end to. It's a longer song (I didn't time it, but i'm guessing 5-6 minutes) but it never gets boring or tired. Towards the end the tempo builds and builds until the song practically crashes. Beautiful.

There was only one sad point that I can make; the Billiard Club was practically empty. Not many people beyond the bands' friends got to hear them. Verner Caliper would probably get a much better reception at a venue like the Ravari Room, opening up for a national or regional act than puttering around in a crappy dive, opening for jock-rock wannabe's who will break up in 6 months.
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