The Rockshaw Theatre
Review By Cameron Miller / Photo: Diemonds MySpace
Exclusive to Rockstar Weekly
Diemonds are a recent product of the endlessly talented Toronto metal scene. They played the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver on their first ever Canadian tour. Although the show took place on a Wednesday night with little notice, energy was high and those with enough knowledge of the scene to have heard about the show or listened to the band excitedly lined up at the door.
The Rickshaw Theatre, for those who have not yet had the chance to go, is a renovated former movie theatre opened earlier this month, which has been sitting idle and unused since 1984. WIth a capacity over 500, a balcony, and convenient location just off Main and Hastings, this venue has the potential to remedy Vancouver’s lack of decent sized inexpensive local venues. The sound is good, the staff are friendly, and the ceilings are 40 feet high. While the partially seated floor admittedly detracts a little from the rock ‘n roll vibe, it also greatly lowers the risk of the Rickshaw being booked up by pseudo-ironic hipster DJ dance nights, as has been recent the fate of so many other live music venues.
Local act Hugenelk (Pronounced ‘Huge-Nelk,’ not ‘Hugen-Elk’ or ‘Huge-Neck’ like I originally thought) played before Diemonds. Although they seemed a little uncomfortable on the Rickshaw’s large stage, they had a professional sound and played tightly together. Their brand of heavy, 70’s psychedelic inspired rock got the crowd out of their seats and a few beers in, although I probably would have appreciated it more if it was ’73 and I was tripping on acid.
When Diemonds finally took the stage, Vancouver’s community of glam/sleaze metal fans was finally brought together in a way that no current local act has yet been able to accomplish. For the first time in years, there was not a hipster in sight. Headbangers with teased hair, tattoos and skin tight jeans all emerged to line the stage from…where? I haven’t seen many of them at other local shows, I haven’t seen them at parties, and I sure haven’t see them on Granville Street. Diemond’s drunken, hard-partying energy, along with the mysterious, magical atmosphere of the Rickshaw seem to have genuinely brought the 80’s back to Vancouver for one night only.
As the band burst into their first song, the less-than-packed theatre filled to the brim with excitement. All of their songs are loud and catchy, impossibly crammed into less than 3 minutes each. The band collectively looked like they should be playing a stadium. The beautiful lead singer Priya Panda strutted the stage and teased the audience like a true performer, drawing an unavoidable comparison to Cassandra, the singer and dream girl from Wayne’s World. Guitarist C.C. Diemond played with the confidence and feel of a seasoned veteran, and the rhythm section was locked in.
Perhaps the best thing about Diemonds is how legitimate and true to their genre they remain, in an age and local scene that largely doesn’t know what to make of them. I’ve heard them compared to the popular LA jokeband Steel Panther, but the difference is, Diemonds are completely serious about what they do. No changing out of their ‘costumes’ and laughing about it in the dressing room after- these guys live and breathe what their music stands for.
Those who say that Diemonds are stuck in the 80’s couldn’t be more wrong. Recent rock ‘n roll has become safe, tame, watered down and faceless through mass production and the media. The current hipster trend has been to appreciate musical genres and movements only ironically or as jokes, while remaining safely unattached to any subculture, lest it become uncool. Diemonds are ahead of their time, as one of the few bands confidently pioneering and fully devoted to the genre they love, without worrying about the reaction it might get them. Look for this band returning to Vancouver to play a packed Commodore Ballroom in a few years, once people wake up and realize that the joke is actually on them, because this music is 100% real.