BILLY TALENT @ REBEL MARCH 20, 2007
Billy Talent is another one of those weird bands, much like Dredg and Muse, that tend to appeal to a certain segment of metalheads even though they really aren’t metal. While the karate-chopping Warped Tour set was in full force last night at Rebel, the oldsters and metalheads in attendance hung towards the back and watched this amazingly tight and unique Canadian band perform songs from their two albums. The band roared through a set of material mostly from their recent release Billy Talent II in the newly opened Club Rebel, a small club in the shadows of Penn Station with surprisingly good sound. Billy Talent brought an explosive, electric punk energy that they maintained throughout the show.
Billy Talent is a really, really unique band; no one sounds even close to this. The band is anchored by an incredibly tight rhythm section that is always in perfect unison — and by rhythm section I include everyone other than singer Ben Kowalewicz. The way these guys play together is truly staggering, and guitarist Ian D’Sa fits right in, a role in which most guitarists aren’t too comfortable (the band is rounded out by bassist Jon Gallant and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk). D’Sa still manages to get his signature sound through, with his quirky and creative chord-based riffing and tasty lead licks interspersed throughout. There is an almost old-timey feel to D’Sa’s style, though it still manages to rock SO hard. The gang vocals of D’Sa and Gallant are yet another interesting flair this band brings to the table; they’re always fun and never overdone. Kowalewicz himself is an impressive, if bizarre singer; he yelps, screams and howls convincingly, sounding something like the screachiness of Axl Rose but with a zany, punk fervor unique to himself. His energy is uncontainable on the stage, and not for nothing, his stage banter is pretty funny too.
Rebel might have been a small venue for the band, and the singer remarked as such — indeed they are playing mostly 500-600 seaters on their US tour — but nevertheless the band had the audience in a frenzy. One girl who jumped on stage in between songs declared that she had missed one week of school and three days of work just to be there.
Billy Talent are big stars in their native Canada but have yet to make a huge dent in America. Kowalewicz expressed his desire to tour the US more often, but also offered his gratitude more than once to the fans who came out to support the band. Unfortunately it will probably be a while before another headlining run, and I have zero desire to see them support the Warped Tour variety bands they usually go out with. But who knows, maybe Dredg and Billy Talent will support Muse in 2007? One can hope.