Guitar Wolf / Cheap Time Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC May 25

Guitar Wolf / Cheap Time Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC May 25
Fresh off the release of their second LP, Tennessee's Cheap Time were a great primer for the rock'n'roll mayhem that was soon to hit the stage. The three-piece tore through a hefty set of their tightly wound glam- and power-pop-infused garage rock, drawing in a sizable chunk of the crowd, most of whom were there strictly for the night's big headliners.

After all, it had been ages since Japan's Guitar Wolf last graced a stage here in Vancouver, and the capacity crowd at the Biltmore proved it. Teasing the antsy, drunken audience, the curtains were parted to an empty stage while the Ramones blared over the speakers. Clearly trying to build a bit of tension, the band let a handful of the Ramones classics play until the leather- and sunglasses-clad trio finally hit the stage to rapturous applause. Even then, the band only played feedback while the revving of a muscle car was loudly played overtop.

Lead guitarist and singer Seiji then began to prop his mic on a too-small platform a couple feet above the stage and crowd. Only after he finally steadied himself, hovering above the audience, did the long-running group finally launched into their first actual song of the night, which sent the crowd into an absolute fit. The mob of fans at the front instantly began hurling cans, spraying foamy beer and sending bodies atop the densely packed venue. There was only room at the front for the most daring, but there were a lot of them.

Guitar Wolf didn't relent for their entire set, blazing through song after song of intense, anarchic rock'n'roll. Devil horns were constantly thrown out at the crowd by Seiji as he absolutely controlled the heaving masses. At one point, he even instructed the audience, "no clap, just fingers," sparking a sea of jazz snaps from even the most hardcore in attendance.

It may have been years since Guitar Wolf last passed through town, but they made up for it ten-fold with one of the most lively, over-the-top rock shows this city has seen in some time. And many in the audience have the bruises to prove it.