Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Maximum RNR

Originally published in the CJLO Magazine.

Maximum RNR

It usually comes as a shock to most people that deep in the nether regions of my twee little heart and soul lies a girl who likes it rough, hot, and filthy. And by "it," I mean my music. Grinding guitars, heavy bass, screaming vocals, black clad sweaty men, sideburns, and long hair is what I look for when I go to a show; and Maximum RNR gave it to me not once, but twice at Pouzza Fest this year.

My first "Max" experience started at Underworld on the night of May 19. I was nervous because it was my first time, and also a little late for the show after eating poutine at an alley picnic with my friends. 

When we entered the venue, I could see the band and hear the singing, but had no idea where that crazy voice was coming from. Then through the mosh pit I noticed a microphone cable leading from the stage into the crowd of people going wild. And there he was, Diamond Brent Panther (aka Brenton Ellis) thrashing about in the middle of the pit like the sun with the planets moshing around him in crazy-sweaty unison.

I was thoroughly impressed with a man who can mosh, get hit, physically pick up an audience member, and belt out an amazing tune at the same time. Maybe he is a true professional, or maybe he's just crazy, but the way Diamond Brent strutted about, you would have never known that he injured his back at the Dwarves show the night prior.

Unfortunately, I was only at Underworld long enough to hear two Maximum RNR songs, which is certainly not enough to truly experience what a band has to offer. Plus, Max rarely performs in Montreal these days, is unsigned, and totally punk rock DIY, so I just had to see an entire set. Lucky for me, with the cancellation of Poison Idea, Maximum RNR were booked to headline at Katacombes on May 20, the last night of Pouzza Fest.

So off I was to Katacombes the next night.

I got there super early, and with the police and protest chaos outside, I played with the idea of spending the whole night at one venue so I wouldn't miss any Maximum RNR. However, after seeing yet another ska-punk band that sounded just like every other ska-punk band at Pouzza Fest, I escaped to the terrace outside and debated whether to leave and catch Machinegun Suzie at Underworld.

As I was drinking my pint of brew, I noticed several different people come out to gather their friends inside. "This guy is amazing, you have to see this!" they raved. "This guy" was Jah CuttaCanada's King of Reggae, accompanied by deejay John Lee of Foufounes Electriques infamous Ska Tuesdays! I felt so lucky to catch the legendary performer of over 30 years spread the Rastafari love in song. Jah Cutta created so much happiness, and his energetic performance made even the roughest looking dude at Katacombes dance to the beat. 

Jah Cutta really showed those stereotypical ska-punk bands how it's done, and I have him to thank because I ended up staying the rest of the night, finally getting my chance to see Maximum RNR in its full glory—well, almost. Lead guitarist Keith Carman was absent from their second Pouzza show.

Though he started on stage, Diamond Brent Panther quickly made his way into the crowd screaming, "Trust Us!" and everyone gathered around him once again to sing along and make rock poses through the entire set. There was lots of alcohol splatter and whisky drinking during the performance, and someone in the audience poured beer in Brent's mouth, all over his face, and into his eyes. But as usual, nothing stopped him.

With Brent in the pit and Keith C. MIA, Curtis Faux made sure that no void was left on stage by thrashing around, his hair flying, slapping that bass so hard that I could literally feel the vibration in my heart and stomach. His last name is pronounced "fox" by the way, and Curtis certainly lived up to it by injecting the band with lots of musical talent and sex appeal.

Keith Maurik, usually on rhythm guitar, proved more-than capable and make up for the lack of a lead guitarist, as he seamlessly plucked the strings on my favourite songs of the night: the super-heavy "Ire of the Ram", and that catchy hard-rock tune "Lucky Charm", both of which have those great guitar riffs that always make me bite my bottom lip and rock out like a West Island girl should.

There was a heat wave in Montreal that weekend, so drummer Mike Childs performed wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a tattoo around his navel. I've always felt that the drums have got to be the most physically demanding instruments to play, and Mike kept up the energy by banging the skins non-stop for over 38 minutes, his enthusiasm making it seem so effortless.

Their set ended with the brand new Maximum RNR tune "Attack Panther," and for the encore we once again heard "Trust Us", a fan-favourite requested by some late-comers that missed the first few songs of the performance.

After the show I did a little investigative reporting to learn more about the people behind the band. Keith M. describes his band mates Diamond Brent and Curtis as "grifters" who "make things happen." When I asked Keith how they describe him, he replied, "Oh, I'm just the asshole that keeps them in check"—banter seems to be par for the course among the guys in Maximum RNR. Hanging out with Keith was so cool! He told me a bit about his life in music, and how at one point he went to build houses in Indonesia. I really appreciated his openness and sincerity, and could totally tell he has a kind soul.

To end off the night I partied with the band, Curtis gave me a sticker, and I bought a copy of Maximum RNR'sThe Black and White Years, which features their entire catalogue to date, for only five bucks. The CD has been on repeat ever since. Like Angelica and Diego before me, I am smitten!

Maximum RNR Katacombes set list:

01. Trust Us
02. Say What
03. Train Wreck
04. Cutthroat
05. Speaking in Tongues
06. Lucky Charm
07. Deep Inside the Tracks
08. Kill Tom Cruise
09. Welcome to Sodomy
10. Ire of the Ram
11. I Hate the Cold
12. I Turn My Back
13. Release
14. Attack Panther
15. Trust Us (encore, by request)

No comments:

Post a Comment