Stereophonic George's Roadhouse, Sackville NB - January 23 to 24, 2004

Stereophonic George's Roadhouse, Sackville NB - January 23 to 24, 2004
This is how the rock gods meant for it to be. If they were down here right now, they'd scrap all those "rock in the park" fests and move the party to places like George's Roadhouse in middle of nowhere New Brunswick. The staff are surly, the pitchers cheap and the whole rickety rock refuge is nestled in a deep winter snow about a three-hour drive from the closest scenester. Stereophonic, a fund-raising bash for local community station CHMA, lured twangers and bangers from all over the maritime region for a solid two days of music. Both nights were eased in gently with short sets by local singer/songwriter-types (Alison Lickley and Cape Breton's Carolyn Lionais on Friday, Henry Svec and Malcom MacLure on Saturday). The first evening kicked up the energy soon after with Saint John's dancing robot Gary Flanagan working the packed house into a bilingual synth-pop frenzy. Halifax's Reels followed, losing a bit of the momentum built-up by the puppet-wielding Flanagan. Local favourites and Ajax/Dawson City alt-country duo Shotgun and Jaybird took to the stage next, switching frequently between guitar and drum kit duty, and their straightforward but surprisingly full, textured sound brought the Roadhouse back to life. Cape Breton punk rock three-piece I Was A Spy rounded off the night, with their searing guitar, raging drums, out of control bass and tight, tight songs breaking hearts as well as eardrums. Day two of Stereophonic brought dulled hearing, sore throats and an all-ages afternoon punk show with Go Kid Go, Electric Mud and Fear of Lipstick. Later on that night the rock'n'roll crowd was roused from its wearied state by a gorgeous, thick thundercloud of melody by Undecided, a group of Moncton high school kids. Ska-infused locals Dog Man Don't followed and their rough edges were all too apparent in the company of so many polished touring bands. A Moncton double shot of loud rounded things off, thank goodness, beginning with the Mean and ending with the heaviest of the heavy, the Monoxides. Described as "a band's band," the Mean tore through song after song with a cocky swagger, warming up the already straining amps for the evening's headliners. The Monoxides are keeping it metal alive and snarling, complete with Slayer riffs and ZZ Top rock star moves. For those still standing, their set was a kick in the pants straight up to sweet hard rock heaven.