Torche Dickens Pub, Calgary AB, June 20

Torche Dickens Pub, Calgary AB, June 20
Photo: Megan Cole
9
As festival-goers on the east side of downtown Calgary scrambled to find a Sled Island venue that hadn't been evacuated because of the floods, heavier music enthusiasts hunkered down at Dickens Pub on the west side and waited for Miami-based crunch-crew Torche to hit the stage. When they did it was to offer a crushing sound that rivaled guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks' legendary previous band, Floor, in pure bottom-end heaviness.

The foursome charged through material from their latest album, 2012's Harmonicraft, as well as earlier crowd-pleasers like "Healer" and "Across the Shields," smiling and posturing as if the apocalypse wasn't raining down outside. Bass player Jonathan Nunez took the lead, as he often does during the band's sets, standing centre stage and banging his shiny head almost off his body, while Brooks and guitarist Andrew Elstner smiled, head-banged and kept to their business of maximum riffage. Drummer Rick Smith was in fine form, as always, shirtless and sweating profusely as he banged away on his kit so hard that three songs into the set he needed some brick reinforcement to keep his bass drum rooted. As happy and poppy as Torche's riff-cannon can be, it was their three-song set ender that showed where their roots truly lie. A complete doom-fest, the 15-minute-plus trio of sludge was a throwback to Brooks' days in Floor and felt like the perfect primer for going back outside to face the impending floodwaters. "Be safe," said Brooks, before dramatically ejaculating his guitar all over the crowd.