Bad News – The Gala

“Part garage-punk, part glam, part pitch-black rock’n’roll ferocity, The Gala is the party you’ve never been invited to but always dreamt of; a swirling kaleidoscope of debauchery and decadence that you probably wouldn’t survive.  But you can handle a song, at least.” – Sleazegrinder / Classic Rock Magazine

That was my introduction to The Gala following an introductory message from band member Chris Kenneally (guitar).  A little bit about The Gala – they’re a 5-piece garage punk group from Boston, MA, signed to record label Dead Beat Records..  Their latest release is Bad News, which has been out since March.  I’ve listened to the album, and as the quote describing them suggests they are a bit of everything to be sure – punk, glam, and rock.

Bad News by The Gala (US)

The lead female vocals from Emily Doran are super powerful and are fantastic.  I really liked the subtle touches throughout the album – like when the organ cuts through just a little bit to create a fuller sound.  This group really takes me back to some of the indie music we used to play on our college radio station almost 15 years ago. 

Another cool thing going for the band – they’ve released ‘Bad News’ on cassette!  I’m not sure why that’s a thing bands do these days, but that’s how I used to consume my albums growing up, so it’s awfully tempting to buy some more.  I wonder if tape players are becoming popular again – they’re definitely not in cars anymore.

I can’t say enough good things about this group – I’ll definitely play one or two of their tracks on an upcoming podcast episode.  In the meantime – you should check them out live!  Chris told me about a May 10th show at O’Brien’s Pub in Allston, MA.  Details at their website, or direct link here:
https://www.bandsintown.com/e/100831617?app_id=WIX&came_from=267&utm_medium=api&utm_source=public_api&utm_campaign=event

The Ultimate Queen Celebration – August 9, 2018

Last night I was treated to a performance by The Ultimate Queen Celebration, a Queen tribute band fronted by Marc Martel.  The show was at the Théâtre du Casino at Casino de Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec. 

Going into the show, I had zero expectations – I don’t recall ever going out specifically to see a tribute band, so assumed that it was going to be a band dressing up like Queen and playing their music.  That’s not quite what TUQC delivers.  I’ll get to that, but first, some group background details.

The Band

The band is fronted by Marc Martel, who is apparently quite famous on his own.  Based in Nashville but originally from Montreal, Martel gained fame via YouTube when he shared his rendition of Somebody to Love.  From what I gather he was hand-picked by Queen drummer Roger Taylor as the winner of a contest put on by Queen bandmembers (I’m fuzzy on the details as to what the contest was for, but I think it was basically to pick a front man for this particular tribute band).    All of the rave reviews of Martel essentially boil down to “Close your eyes, and he sounds like Freddie.” 

The rest of the band is made up of Tristan Avakian (lead guitar, some vocals); Brandon Ethridge (keyboard, vocals); Jason Gianni (drums, vocals);  and Mike Cohen (bass, vocals).  They all have various claims to fame of some sort but I was most impressed by Avakian, who did an amazing job last night playing lead guitar.  I learned today that he was a former lead guitarist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra – not a surprise given the talent he put on display.  There are other rotating members of the band, who play depending on venue and availability. 

The Show

Getting back to the show itself, it was definitely a high-energy affair.  Everyone on stage were having a good time and putting every effort into the songs, and the crowd was definitely engaged.  Actually, despite playing a number of the higher-energy hits (including Bohemian Rhapsody) in the first half of the show, the audience didn’t break out into singing and dancing until “I Want to Break Free”, sung after an impressive opera performance by Martel coming out of the intermission. 

The band didn’t dress up like Queen, which was pointed out by Martel.  I didn’t find this distracting at all, and actually preferred it.  But they played it straight, and by that I mean they didn’t take too many liberties with the source material.  They played it as if they were the real band, playing through the set list, trading on and off the stage for effect.  I did think that Martel tries a little bit to emulate Mercury in more than just singing style, but he made it his own thing.  I think also the band was limited a little by the size of the stage, so didn’t have too many crazy theatrics. 

All in all, anyone could take Queen’s music and make a playlist out of it.  What The Ultimate Queen Celebration does is put an element of performance into it and deliver an engaging, fun show.  It ends up being a little more than just playing the music.  Great show, I recommend it if it’s in a town near you!