It’s hard to believe that we are a month out from Rock the Hub 2022’s 3rd night, but here we are. After covering 3 nights of live music over 4 days, it took a bit to recover and get into editing some of the great photos snapped during the festival. Unfortunately, the following weekend saw the dreaded double stripe hit the house and took 3 of the 4 of us down for a few days. Luckily, it passed quickly, and I could properly get into the shots from the fantastic Rock The Hub 2022 weekend.
Now that I had a lay of the land, I was back bright and early on this Sunday afternoon as I was pumped to finally see MONOWHALES and JJ Wilde in person for the first time. For those in attendance, I would reckon that a lot of the bands are regular playlist staples, but for the uninitiated I have a feeling a lot of the MONOWHALES set will have sounded familiar, as the band has been a staple of rock radio for quite some time. “Out With The Old”, “RWLYD (Really Wanna Let You Down)” and “All of Nothing” are all in regular rotation. The band had been on a hot streak with the well-suited and somewhat unexpected cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds” in late October and followed it up with “CTRL^^^” at the start of 2022, which has been dominating airwaves ever since.
Kicking off the potent Sunday night line-up was MONOWHALES, who hit the stage and launched into a set that was loaded with all the aforementioned songs, that sounded every bit as good as their studio counterparts. Lead singer/spitfire Sally Shaar worked the stage like a seasoned pro, bounding from one side to the other with an effortless exuberance. She checked in periodically with bandmates Zach Zanadro (guitar, bass, Garage Trucker Cap) and Jordan Circosta (drums, synth, vocals). It was clear to see that Sally was meant for the stage, as her magnetic grin hardly left her face the entire set, and it appeared she was having as much fun performing for the crowd as they were having watching her. Towards the end of the band’s set, Sally bounded off stage and headed out into the crowd, mugging for the crowd the whole time. It was a great way to kick off the final day of the festival, and I’ll be on the lookout for the band’s next stop out here on the East Coast.
Next up was Oshawa’s own rock n’ roll two-piece Crown Lands. I was fortunate to catch the band in Halifax as part of Jack White’s Boarding House Reach tour; however, at that time the band was somewhat lost on me. That was certainly not the case on this evening, as the Rock n’ Roll Lorax Kevin Comeau and Drummer/Vocalist Cody Bowles, wowed with both their massive prog-rock sound and elaborately jewel encrusted suits (which would have made The Sadies, or Colin Cripps proud). Bowles spent the first two thirds behind the drum kit, handling vocals from his stool, eventually emerging to command center stage along the mysterious Comeau who deftly handled the bass work, and these scintillating solos on the guitar.
Holding down that middle slot of the day was an artist who was fresh off an opening stint for Pearl Jam across the pond in Hyde Park, something that came about in large part to the success of her debut album Ruthless which dropped back in 2020. To say that album, and her single “The Rush” was nothing short of life changing for JJ Wilde. From that first smash single to well-known singles such as “Off the Rails” and “Mercy” which are also in regular rotation at rock radio across Canada. Funny thing though, aside from knowing the music, I knew little else about JJ Wilde and her band, so much so that I was standing no less than 10ft from JJ Wilde and bandmate Steve Lavery as they took in the sets from MONOWHALES and Crown Lands. That lightbulb moment occurred when they hit the stage and I realized exactly who JJ Wilde is.
She and her band proved exactly why they have been invited to share stages with the likes of Pearl Jam, KISS, The Scorpions and headliners of the night Glorious Sons. Wilde and her bandmates (Steven Lavery, Jay Danza, Daniel Bossenberry and Mitch Milley) crushed their set, with their massive hit singles, to the way the band truly enjoys performing together. This act is a well-oiled machine, that is ready to make the leap to superstardom. Much like MONOWHALES earlier in the day, JJ Wilde’s energy on-stage would be comparable to that of Sally Shaar, as JJ worked the stage like the consummate pro, and took the air on more the one occasion showing off her glowing white kicks. I look forward to seeing where JJ Wilde’s trajectory will carry her.
It wasn’t long before the stage was set to welcome July Talk, a band that was no stranger to the East Coast, but this set marked the first time that Peter, Leah, Ian, Josh and Danny played Rock the Hub in Truro. Even with Covid considered, an East Coast romp from the Toronto based band was well overdue and the crowd in Truro was ready to sing their hearts out. On this night, the setlist was skewed heavily towards the sophomore LP Touch, featuring cuts such as “Picturing Love”, “Push + Pull” and “Beck + Call”. Hearing “Guns + Ammunition”, “Summer Dress” and “My Neck” was fun for many in the audience as it was clear there was a fair number of July Talk super fans in the crowd. The band also introduced us to a new track entitled “Roaming the Streets” which I would assume will be included on an upcoming album. You can also see the band’s penchant for stark and striking artwork manifesting on stage with an equally stark black, white and red palate, and a healthy dose of eyeliner to boot. With each release you get to see the band evolving into this an increasingly interesting and important act in the music industry, as we need more bands ready to challenge boundaries and expectations. Be sure that when the band ventures back to these parts, they will have a bigger fan base ready to welcome them with open arms.
As we were well into the evening when Hamilton’s The Glorious Sons (TGS) took to the Rock the Hub stage and took the crowd all the back to the band’s early days with the fan-favorite cut “Ruby”. It’s one of those numbers that starts out slowly and then ramps up into this rollicking number that is a perfect number to kick the set off with. They promptly followed it up with a track that also appeared on that initial “Shapeless Art” album, but also served as one of the first singles for the band’s breakthrough The Union. The set then moved on to the band’s latest two releases Young Beauties and Fools, and A War on Everything which featured “SOS”, “Josie”, “Everything is Alright” and “Panic Attack”. It’s safe to say that one of the big treats of the night was seeing the band take on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” on which guitarist Chris Koster played Keith to Brett’s Mick.
As the reality of a 45min drive set in, I took my cue in the middle of “Everything is Alright” to hit the road as the sound of the festival faded in the distance. This festival has made an indelible mark on many of the acts that have been lucky enough to grace its stage, on the fans who have made this and the Country Rocks the Hub festival possible. Can’t wait to see what the organizers have lined up for 2023, as this will now be an annual pilgrimage for me and the legions of other fans of live music. Enjoy some of the photos that I snapped throughout day 3 of Rock the Hub 2022.