Toronto’s Riot Fest & Expo is coming at us fast and furious on September 19 and 20 at Downsview Park. Weezer, The Prodigy, Bleachers, Cancer Bats, Courage My Love, and Ritual join a diverse array of bands previously announced. To top it off, Weezer will play both days of the festival, performing their eponymous debut (known as the Blue Album) one day and Pinkerton on the other. For fans a little tight on budget – Riot Fest brings back its layaway program, with the option to pay ticket costs in several installments during the lead up to the fest.
Here is the fourth of ten Toronto’s Riot Fest & Expo Spotlight’s we talk The Prodigy and Indian Handcrafts.
The Prodigy are an English electronic dance music group from Braintree, Essex, formed by Liam Howlett in 1990. The current members include Liam Howlett (keyboardist and composer), Keith Flint (dancer and vocalist) and Maxim (MC and vocalist). Leeroy Thornhill (dancer and occasional live keyboardist) was a member of the band from 1990 to 2000, as was a female dancer and vocalist called Sharky who left the group during their early period.
Along with The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Crystal Method and other acts, The Prodigy have been credited as pioneers of the big beat genre, which achieved mainstream popularity in the 1990s and 2000s. They have sold over 25 million records worldwide. The group has won numerous music awards throughout their career, including two Brit Awards—winning Best British Dance Act twice, three MTV Video Music Awards, two Kerrang! Awards, five MTV Europe Music Awards, and have twice been nominated for Grammy Awards.
The group’s brand of music makes use of various styles ranging from rave, hardcore techno, electro-industrial, jungle and breakbeat in the early 1990s to big beat and electronic rock with punk vocal elements in later times. The Prodigy first emerged on the underground rave scene in the early 1990s and have since achieved popularity and worldwide renown. They have been called “the premiere dance act for the alternative masses” and “the Godfathers of Rave”.
“The last one was our 70s album, this is our 80s album,” jokes Indian Handcrafts drummer/vocalist Brandyn James Aikins. Although it’s an offhand generalization, there’s a good deal of accuracy to the jest. Whereas the Canadian duo’s 2012 Sargent House debut Civil Disobedience for Losers was full of 70s style heavy groove within its drop-tuned riff-rollicking, Creeps has more sheen and steel. Or, while the previous album was more of a shag carpet lined party van, Creeps is a souped-up time-traveling Delorean.
Throughout, Creeps pits elements of early Metallica’s dingy denim thrash, Judas Priest’s shiny leather turbo metal, Queens of the Stone Age’s flannel-flying rock and even Creatures Of The Night-era KISS’ glossy hard pop alongside the band’s signature amalgam of futuristic alt-rock and a cross section of blistering punk-sludge hallucinations. The drum sounds are huge, the ridiculously incredible guitar tones will have guitar geeks geeking out for years to come. And, the dual vocals often compellingly sound as though they were simultaneously softly sung and violently screamed.
The songs for Creeps came about quickly after the band had spent considerable time on tour, the two of them riding in a van for hours on end. “On tour you’re listening to everything all the time, going from Celtic Frost to Faster Pussycat,” says guitarist/vocalist Daniel Brandon Allen. “It tends to work its way into the writing.” The effects of that mindset opened them up to the musical twists and turns of the new album.
“It’s anthemic at times,” Allen says. “Hopefully listener friendly. It’s kind of a mixed bag.”
The mixed bag starts off with the one-two punch of lightning-riding, doom riff shuffling “Down At the Docks” and infectious, storming track “It’s Late Queeny.” A finger-tapped, overdrive ravaged guitar lead kicks off the swinging “Murderers For Hire” with Aikins’ and Allen’s vocals sounding more demonic than the PMRC given carte blanche censorship rights. Elsewhere, the straight up power metal of “Maelstrom” affirms the hypothesis, “is a two-man Iron Maiden possible?” The 7-minute tune packs in as many great riffs as some bands do in a career, while the vocals spin a woeful seafaring yarn. “Snake Mountain” is a raging NWOBHM style chug-fest that somehow also hearkens to late-80s Dischord melodic hardcore. And, hard rock fans are sure to latch onto the shimmering melody and – gasp! – vocal harmonies of “The Divider” even while 90s Helmet fans would claim the open-tuned minor chord riff for their own alternative nation.
For Creeps the band once again teamed up with previous album engineer Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Tool), surreptitiously sneaking away from their Barrie, Ontario home for 10 days’ recording at Kasai’s new Sun Valley, CA studio Sound of Sirens. There the pair focused intently on distilling their ideas down to a 9-song, 44-minute can of whip ass labelled simply, Creeps.
Creeps will be available everywhere on LP, CD and download on October 2nd, 2015 via Sargent House.
Check out The Prodigy and Indian Handcrafts at Toronto’s Riot Fest & Expo!
In previous years, Riot Fest and their partners at Union Events have cultivated lineups that have featured reunions and rare appearances—and 2015 is no exception. Bands such as Drive Like Jehu and Thrice will be making reunion appearances at Riot Fest & Expo. Moreover, rare appearances by Alexisonfire, Echo & The Bunnymen and Motörhead give 2015’s edition its unique feel.
Outside of the announced bands, this year’s festival will also include a circus tent featuring the Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow Revue, a miniature golf course, a video arcade hall, and a wide array of food and drink options.
Link to purchase Riot Fest & Expo Toronto tickets: