Two weeks ago, a legion of concert-goers converged on the Hub city in the heart of Nova Scotia. Many of those in attendance hope their ears will stop ringing soon. Over the August long weekend, Truro played host to its long-running homegrown festival Rock The Hub, the first of two music festivals that would take place an hour outside of Halifax. For these three days, some of the biggest and best acts in the Canadian Rock scene would take to the stage, including July Talk, The Glorious Sons, Monster Truck, The Tea Party and Three Days Grace, to name only the headliners. The excitement that hung in the air was palpable, folks were more than ready to flock back to the concert grounds in downtown Truro and indulge in some mutual music adoration.
Personally, 2022 marked the first year I was making the trek from Lower Sackville up to Truro to catch the festival first hand, in previous years I admired Rock the Hub from afar, living vicariously through the shots some of my fellow photogs were snapping during their time at the earlier iterations of the festival. While I was certainly excited to be there taking in the headlining acts (many of whom I have had the opportunity to see prior), I was excited to see the fiery up-and-coming acts such as The Wild, BRKN Love, Crown Lands and The Monowhales. Many of whom wowed me with their engaging live performances, it was a great way to discover a new favourite act, and for me, The Wild, BRKN Love and The Monowhales really knocked my socks off over the course of the weekend.
Having never attended Rock the Hub previously, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have attended a fair share of other festivals and I must say that the organizers had this one running like a well-oiled machine. I rolled into town around 6:30pm, was quickly able to find parking and within a few minutes was in the heart of the concert space. On my way into the grounds, I passed through a food truck village, and the nearby bank of porta potties, and then looking around I could see the section of general admission patrons who had great views from the back of the concert grounds. The area in front of the stage was split between the VIP, and Platinum sections, both of which were comfortable areas to watch from, albeit the VIP was often packed with exuberant fans. For the eagle-eyed folks, they might have noticed some of the acts hanging out watching those who were performing on stage (at points I spotted the Monowhales crew, JJ Wilde and her band mates, as well as The Lazys and BRKN Love). Everything was laid out well, and it made it easy to make your way around the concert grounds.
Going into a festival where I am unfamiliar with some of the acts, I would normally put in work in the weeks leading up, to at least have a passing familiarity with all of the bands on the bill. Unfortunately, my professional commitments prevented that homework from being done, and I went in deaf to BRKN Love, The Wild and Saint Asonia on Friday Night, and similarly went into Sunday night knowing only a handful of tracks from The Monowhales, JJ Wilde and Crown Lands. It ended up being a fantastic way to experience them for the first time, as I arrived just after BRKN Love took to the stage, I initially thought they were The Wild (on account of the big backdrop adorning the stage) but figured out my mistake shortly after they introduced themselves. I really dug their radio-ready sound, as it was fine-tuned and polished, and I found it hard to believe their debut album dropped back in 2019 as they sounded far more seasoned. The Wild lived up to their name in every conceivable way, from the way that frontman Dylan Villain owned the stage with his distinct rock n roll look all the while sounding like a cross between Buckcherry’s Josh Todd and The Headstone’s Hugh Dillon. Villain definitely struck a balance between charismatic and/or menacing front-man. Benny “The Kid” had a youthful exuberance about him, all the while throwing down some sick guitar licks when he wasn’t catching some serious air on stage. Then you had Bassist Boozus who kept the bass-lines fat, greasy and groovy and then you had the fella holding down the bedlam at the back of the stage drummer Crash Anderson. All in all, it was a set that sounded like vintage rock n roll, coupled with the flippant brashness of punk rock. If you ever have the opportunity to see The Wild! play live, do it!
As I said, I wasn’t familiar with Saint Asonia going into Friday night’s set, but when I saw the band take to the stage, I certainly recognized lead singer Adam Gontier (formerly of Three Days Grace) and Paulo Neta (formerly of Big Wreck). They sounded fine, but the bar had been set exceedingly high by the previous acts on the bill, and it wasn’t until Adam Gontier quipped that we might hear the next one twice this weekend, and launched into “I Hate Everything About You” (a Three Days Grace hit from Gontier’s time with the band). Not only did Gontier and the band work in some vintage 3DG tunes, but Gontier even threw in a cover of The Tragically Hip’s “Fully Completely” which was an unexpected treat. Then the stage was set up for the headliners of night 1, Hamilton’s own Monster Truck. When Jon, Jeremy, Brandon and Steve hit the stage, you would think there was an actual Monster Truck on stage with the massive bass licks from front-man Jon Harvey, and the ear-splitting riffs being laid down by the perpetually shirtless Jeremy Widerman. The band is hardly a one-trick party, for the uninitiated it might sound like chaos, but once you immerse yourself into the band’s sound, you get to hear all of these honey-hued blues tones, which invoke the spirit of CCR and Lynyrd Skynyrd, while bringing all of the bombast and energy in this layer that just begs you to crank up the stereo. It’s certainly fun to watch Jon Harvey bring this menacing look to the stage, but as he gets into the set, you see him flash a huge grin across the stage to Widerman and his enjoyment of being on stage is infectious.
It was a fantastic way to kick off Rock the Hub with this potent, line-up of acts which proved rock n roll’s demise is often exaggerated and is alive and well in their hands. Night 1 certainly made me excited to return to the venue on Sunday for the stacked bill. Even as I left the concert grounds, and enjoyed listening to Monster Truck’s tunes floating through the air in Truro, it didn’t take long before it faded into night, which further impressed me on the venue, as it was a comfortably sized footprint and didn’t infringe much on the surrounding area. Then it was time to hop in the car and make the 40min trek back home.