Black Tusk / Whores / White Nails Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, August 20

Black Tusk / Whores / White Nails Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, August 20
Photo: Stephen McGill
Losing a band member can be detrimental to a lot of artists, especially when they played an integral part in the writing process. Although it's been four years since Savannah, GA's Black Tusk tragically lost bassist and vocalist Jonathan Athon and they have already released a record after his death (which he posthumously appeared on), their latest album and live performances have been the true test of whether they would be able to continue without him present. Luckily, the band's set Monday night at Lee's Palace showed they're not going away anytime soon.
Quebec City stoner rock act White Nails got the night started right, bringing some heavily fuzzed-out sounds in tow. The six-piece band's mix of psych-tinged riffs and doomy headbangers carried a heavy resemblance to legendary stoner rock act Kyuss, while sounding fresh and enthusiastic to show they've got something to prove. Although they only have one release under their belt, 2017's First Trip, the band carry themselves like veterans and set the mood for the night perfectly.
Up next, Atlanta's loudest noise rock band, with one of the most blatantly offensive names, stepped on stage to devastate the crowd with a sweltering wall of feedback. Whores kicked off their set wildly throwing themselves around amidst screeching distortion, thick buzzy bass tones and hard-hitting drums. Opening with "Fake Life," the band manically tore through sludgy fuzzed out riffs at ear-shattering volumes.
As vocalist and guitarist Christian Lembach ripped through a gnarly guitar intro, he commanded the stragglers at the back of the venue to pack in around the stage by simply pointing out individual people until they came forward. Once the crowd filled in the floor space, the band launched into "I Am Not A Goal Oriented Person," spawning everyone in sight to furiously bang their heads to the mid-tempo jam.
Lembach took a moment while tuning his guitar before the band played "Participation Trophy" to discuss the band's last show in Toronto, playing with Cult Of Luna, where he fell and badly injured his leg and continued the tour. The band finished their set off with a heavy back-to-back of "Shower Time" and "I Am An Amateur At Everything."
As the lights dimmed, "A Perfect View Of Absolutely Nothing" played over the speakers as Black Tusk emerged to tear through hardcore punk jam "Closed Eye" from their latest record. The band furiously blasted through their set, wasting very little time with stage banter beyond drummer James May discussing their roots in the Bible Belt of the United States before performing "God's On Vacation."
Black Tusk brought a much-needed injection of speed to the night after the slower rock jams from the opening acts, mixing blasting drum beats with their mid-tempo riffs on tracks like "Lab Rat" and "Desolation In Endless Times." No single member overshadowed another throughout the show, with everyone taking their turn at the mic at various points throughout their performance.
Although their set was pretty brief for a headlining act, Black Tusk pulled off a highly entertaining performance packed with punk energy. It's safe to say that Athon would be proud to see the band continue in his absence at as high of a calibre as they are currently operating.