Billy Talent Attacks Calgary

Through a rent in the curtain and bathed in light, Billy Talent appeared to a roar of adoration.

Lead singer Ben Kowalewicz and his crack band ripped into a powerful set that had the audience of mostly twenty somethings on their feet and bellowing along to every song. Bellow as they might, they could only barely be heard above a volume of punk n’ roll that could almost be seen, bouncing around inside Calgary’s Stampede Corral center.

There was a surprising range of ages attending this night and it would seem that a tattoo of any description was required for entry. I observed one seven year old child (thankfully wearing earplugs) and a woman of about 50 (unless listening to extremely loud music had prematurely aged her) waving arms, swaying heads singing and clapping hands. Clearly, Billy Talent’s music is widely alluring and stirs the souls of the young and not quite so.

Stampede Corral – March 20th, 2013
Photography by: Charles Hope

Coming across as something between Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop having just downed a pint of 5 hr energy drink, Kowalewicz used the entire stage to meet his purpose, inciting a near riot of devotional fist pumping and crowd surfing. Our intrepid photographer at the edge of the stage,was begged for the remaining drops in his water bottle. This was drawn like prey into the mosh pit and instantly drained by a few good natured and sweat soaked fans. Employing a spectacular light show and dual TV screens, Billy Talent made sure that every seat in the house was a good one. At one point Kowalewicz waved a Go-Pro camera about on a pole allowing the wildly enthusiastic fans to see just how wildly enthusiastic they appeared.

In support of their Dead Silence album and with opening acts Indian Handcrafts, Hollerado and Sum 41 in tow, this Billy Talent performance was neither dead nor silent. Alongside the wailing vocal prowess of Ben Kowalewicz, guitarist Ian D’Sa slashed at his Stratocaster like it was withholding information. Bassist John Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk were powerful, precise and tight. Perfect for the hard driving, bombastic, musical and visual assault. The Missasauga unit tipped their hat to the dearly departed Stompin Tom Connors before tearing into another massive number. For music sown together with equal parts frustration and angst, there was a ton of love to be felt between Billy Talent and it’s fans. It was a good thing.

2012’s Dead Silence album sees the quartet taking a somewhat more sophisticated approach to their song writing and despite the din from band and audience alike, this is a sophisticated act. If you are the kind who gets dirty looks because you turn your music up loud in public places, then this is a highly entertaining spectacle you don’t want to miss. Just leave your grandma at home.

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