Tony of Shallow North Dakota

The Garden of Hardcore Sprouts Three Sonic Unyons

Shallow North Dakota
with the Kittens and Poledo
The Gate
Vancouver, B.C.
Thursday, July 25, 1996

Review by P. Freako
Photography by Paul Clarke


Ok, ok, I'm better now. Anyway, Toronto, Ontario's Poledo was first to send us bouncing off of the walls. Poledo is not a metal band, nor are they grindcore. What they showed us tonight is a heavy band carrying an inner intensity which was released to the crowd in the form of intense mood rock.

The Kittens Guitarist/singer Mitch Roth put forth a mix of heavy power chords, alterna-guitar flurries and lashing vocals to swing us through different wavelengths of intensity. Though musically they were a pretty cool band, able to deliver a variety of heaviness, they just weren't that interesting to watch. The extended pauses between songs just killed any momentum and they seemed to possess that non-performance attitude that seems to be a staple of coolness in the grunge diet. No extroverts here.

In all fairness, the crowd wasn't giving them anything to feed off, either. The Gate was primarily inhabited with middle aged drunks who probably expected some table dancing. Nonetheless, Poledo proceeded forth, playing primarily new songs, giving us a sense of what we can expect from their upcoming 7". I liked this band's sound and I heard some influences from Metallica, Nirvana and fellow Toronto noisters, Grasshopper, to create what is Poledo, but unfortunately, they lacked the flair of the aforementioned bands.

And now for something completely different...

The Kittens The Kittens, Winnipeg's reigning hardcore kings squashed all that is love and flowers with their sonic battering ram of a set. This trio, led by guitarist/vocalist Pony, threw themselves into their show with spastic, uncontrollable intensity. He would maniacally jerk away and then jerk back to the mic to groan some indecipherable phrase following this with intermittent, heavy guitar bashing. All of this coincided evilly with Steve's ongoing heavy bass crunching . This was an all-out hardcore effort that was blistering to hear and intensely masochistic to watch - and I mean that as the highest compliment.

Just absolutely ripping into their songs, including a host of songs from 1994's Grizzly and 1995's Doberman, Helmet fans all over the world felt the audio earthquake and were undoubtedly in pain, realizing that they missed this show. They will be glad, however, that they didn't get too close as the big greens and the saliva train ran out of Pony's nose and consistently soaked the stage. There's nothing better than a good oozefest, and the Kittens tightened the vice on our brains, forcing the blood to gush out, making this truly a 100% hardcore demonstration and making them an awesome live band.

Toronto, Winnipeg... and now to complete the Sonic Unyon Triangle is Hamilton's Shallow North Dakota. Yes, this is the band Shallow. Why the name change? I don't know and I don't care. They can call themselves anything they want because tonight they ruled.

Tony of Shallow North Dakota Yet another sonic boom reverberated through the air of the Gate. This was a good band with drummer/singer (and possibly offensive linemen) Tony carrying his weight by playing a big drum, wailing a big song and pounding out the assault with guitarist Dan. Repeatedly attacking the crowd with the immense guitar screechings, Shallow North Dakota apparently have earned the right to call themselves Canada's "Pop Rock Killing Machine." I'm not going to argue that after we all gazed in awe as they unrelentlessly hammered their way through song after song, energy unwavering, building to the end of the set, at which point they pulled a surprise ace out of their sleeves.

What we got was an "experiment," as Tony described it, and they began to play this mood-heavy space kind of weirdness marked by wicked time changes and cosmic guitar parts. It then broke down to drums and bass which made me think at this point that Chris Sheppard might be roaming around looking for a new club mix. Anyway, the song turned out not to be a club mix, but more of a Santana mix in terms of length and Shallow North Dakota just kept playing until they felt it was time to stop. This diverseness and change of pace just added to the beauty of their show as they demonstrated that there is more than one way to be sonically heavy. I left impressed by their effort and their talents. I also left without the ability to hear.


First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 8, 1996

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