With their latest album, Golden Eagle, based in part around the concept of Native American culture at the turn of the 19th Century and also featuring a song entitled “Chris Brown,” Minneapolis grindcore trio Ambassador Gun certainly had my attention. The band’s current tour, which sees them playing the illustrious Maryland Deathfest on May 24, made its way to Toronto and despite the fact that I was as exhausted as Don Draper in this past Sunday’s freakout episode of Mad Men, I was intrigued enough to motivate myself to get on over to the 460 for the show.
Also on the bill were several local acts, most of whom I missed, unfortunately. I did however catch Burial Permit, who were on right before the headliners. The first thing I noticed about these guys was that they looked young. Like still in high school young. Perhaps because of their youth, they displayed a lot of energy throughout their brief set. To borrow a phrase from The Who, (because The Who obviously loved power violence/grindcore) the kids are alright. The band’s singer had the requisite energy, stomping about the vicinity of the stage, collapsing to the ground often for dramatic effect and at one point wrapping the mic around his neck while singing. At the end of their short but sweet set I’m pretty sure I heard him declare, “Everyone here tonight is going to start a power violence band.” Nice.
If Burial Permit were full of youthful energy, Ambassador Gun had the energy of a band that’s still dedicated to their craft a decade in. With a small crowd and co-vocalists Tim Sieler and Luke Olson sharing one mic, there was a certain intimacy to their set, although it was a bit comical to watch one guy pull back so the other could take the lead. They took a moment mid-set to switch up instruments before declaring, “We just blew a speaker, but that’s how we roll.” Yup, these guys put on a pretty intense set. No moshing though, even though the band tried to encourage it. It was a small crowd and a late set on a Tuesday night though, so that’s no great surprise.
While Ambassador Gun definitely had some good riffs on display throughout their set, to me, grindcore is a genre that need not be entirely original nor necessarily even have the most memorable riffs in order to be enjoyable. What it needs to be is visceral, energetic, and something that demands your attention. Ambassador Gun does all this with a full-on, high energy show.