Jun 2024 05

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Live events have begun to return with something like a roar in the post-pandemic world, and we fans are blessed for finally feeling the pendulum’s return swing. Among those capitalizing on it is the ever-militant Greg Puciato, who in 2023 unfurled a monstrous tour to plug both his solo project and the then fresh meat in the Federal Prisoner jail, Trace Amount. Joining them were the associated acts Deaf Club and Escuela Grind, both of whom appeared on varying nights throughout the European and North American dates.
 
Unfortunately for the northernmost Americans, Deaf Club was less than successful crossing the border for the only Canadian date at The Velvet Underground in Toronto on May 21, 2023 (allegedly due to arrest warrants); the beneficiaries of this mix-up were Toronto-based Shallow Waves, a post-punk/noise rock trio. With a heavy emphasis on Owen Fedchenko’s driving bass backed by Nic Waterman’s electronic percussion and synths, guitarist and vocalist Zaid Khan was animated with real rock verve, headbanging amid the strobe lights and giving it all he could, delivering a hectic set that fit well with the acts to follow.
 

For those familiar with the videos for Anti Body Language, Trace Amount’s Brandon Gallagher was the customary whirling dervish meets a blackened metal Cousin It, a sole shaman whirling and convulsing onstage. A brief request to bring up the vocals punctuated the eponymous song before launching into blistering numbers like “Eventually It Will Kill Us All” and “No Reality.” The one-man performance got some variance through Gallagher picking up drumsticks to accent certain beats, and triggering certain tracks and samples, but without a doubt, the primary performative mechanism was one of raw-bellowing, trancelike frenzy – this all the more ironic considering how well and soft-spoken Gallagher is offstage.
 
By the time Puciato and band clambered onto the stage, the room was packed… and hungry. Lights dimming, the crowd pushed forwards, desperate to get within reach of the white-shirted maniac. After opening with the crowd-rousing “Reality Spiral,” things began with a bang; leaping into the crowd belly-first during the latter half of “Do You Need Me to Remind You?,” Puciato clipped an unprepared audience member or two before the collective bodies mustered enough force to balance him atop their giddy hands and return him back to the stage. Leaning most heavily on his Child Solider: Creator of God material, the band nonetheless had a selection of numbers from Mirrorcell and Fuck Content. The band’s live presence was notably augmented further by Black Magnet’s James Hammontree on guitar duties, who handled the more rapid licks with ease and confidence, gelling effortlessly with the rest of the well-honed band. Numbers like “September City” and “A Pair of Questions” imparted brief moments of rest between the more bombastic ones, refreshing the audience and permitting a deeper heaviness to pervade the latter numbers.
 
And the heaviness of the set and performance is truly a difficult thing to describe; not only was the entire band on point, but so was the audience, Puciato himself remarking the relentless energy of the crowd, both during the set and after the fact on his social media. For “Lowered,” the line sung by Code Orange’s Reba Meyers was delivered by a fan dragged up onto the stage by Puciato (not to mention the dozens of times the mic was held out for assorted eager fans to scream their very best in harmony). And this is – has been – the crux of Puciato’s allure as an artist: the visceral rawness and interpersonal connection he engenders as a performer, the sense of camaraderie that he fosters as he clasps hands, arms, heads, and mad-dogs the audience individually and in toto – you and he are there, sharing that moment of purest aggression and ecstasy. The audience, not content with the set as-is, thundered for an encore, and so asking both the audience and band for suggestions, eventually launched into a cover of “Them Bones,” Puciato making one final foray across the audience that, by the end, was ready and waiting to help him defy gravity as long as he’d let them.
 
The night ended with security politely pushing patrons toward the exit, the final few fans gathering around the merch tables looking on at the approaching line of black-clad staff confusedly. Explaining the bar next door was open, they apologized but insisted things wind down – the joys of corporate venues, one supposes. For those in attendance, the night had yielded something magical, a sense of having been heard, despite having been the ones listening. The intimacy of the night was one for the ages.

 

Article by Colin Andrew MacDougall (VexationsandtheVile)
Photography by Eric Landry


 

Greg Puciato
Website, Bandcamp, Instagram
Trace Amount
Website, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram

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