The Fucking Champs / Birds of Avalon The Ship and Anchor, Calgary AB September 12

Though the rumours of Pride Tiger joining the line-up proved untrue, the double bill of American guitar bands pulled a capacity crowd to the Ship and Anchor on a Wednesday night. Birds of Avalon kicked off the event with a high-energy set of their psych-infused classic rock jams. Thanks to a solid effort from all five members, their performance amplified the songs from their Bazaar Bazaar full-length to new proportions. Former Cherry Valance guitarists and married couple Cheetie Kumar and Paul Siler had their guitars constantly harmonised over a solid rhythm section, while their fearlessly energetic lead singer confronted the crowd with his tambourine. Their set was also visually stimulating, featuring projections of avalanches and volcano eruptions on their amplifiers, and a plethora of killer jump-kicks. As a three-piece, it was hard to see how the Fucking Champs could top Birds of Avalon in terms of excitement, but doubts were demolished as soon as they took the stage. Though they’ve been going for over a decade, the Fucking Champs still write riffs so complex that the songs teeter on the edge of disaster but never fall apart. Like a ton of bricks to the earlobe, guitarists Tim Green and Phil Manley tore through songs mostly from their new album,VI, with Tim Soete’s solid drumming (and rare vocals) keeping everything from imploding. At over an hour, their set never grew boring thanks to the triumphant axe-men never letting up, and a few switches that included a triple guitar anthem. Ending with a mighty rock pose before an epic encore, the Fucking Champs earned their name a hundred times over.