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Dead Letter Circus at Ritual – Ottawa Live Review

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Who: Dead Letter Circus

From: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Where: Ritual Nightclub 

When: November 15th, 2013



Dead Letter Circus

Twelve Foot Ninja

Colour Me Crimson

Dead Letter Circus

Well, another show at Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa, and since my face had just healed from when Protest the Hero met the same stage the week before; I was more than ready for Periphery. In my preparation for Periphery to take Ottawa to the next level, however, I completely forgot to mentally prepare for opening band Dead Letter Circus of Brisbane, Australia. 

I was pretty surprised to hear that these guys were playing with headliners Periphery and fellow Australians Twelve Foot Ninja, as their style was on a different page. I was curious to see how the crowd would accept the more “poppy” vibe that DLC brought to the table.

As soon as the set started I could tell these guys would be tight as fuck. Guitarist Clint Vincent rocked a beautiful Telecaster, bringing a whole new dynamic to a metal show. You may have thought that the constant use of a delay pedal would get old, but his sound was surprisingly refreshing and complemented Kim Benzie’s clean cut vocals nicely.

Drummer Luke Williams had no shortage of confidence on the stage in front of a potentially biased crowd who had largely come to see Periphery. He tossed his shirt before the set even started, and his percussion performance was off-the-goddamn-walls perfect through all of DLC’s dynamically varying songs. The band certainly had no problem portraying themselves as a metal band, from bassist Stewart Hill’s beard to Benzie’s AFI-style haircut and sick tattoos. It wasn’t hard to see why at least half the abnormally large amount of girls ended up crowding the front of the stage barrier.

At the start of his performance, I was a little worried about Kim Benzie. The range of his vocals throughout Dead Letter Circus’s albums is fucking nuts, and his voice showed some signs of strain at the beginning of the first song. All was relieved, after about two minutes, when Benzie started slaying the vocals, making it pretty much impossible to tell what was falsetto and what wasn’t. I was particularly impressed by bassist Stewart Hill (and not just because of the beard). Not only was his bass tone absolutely gorgeous, but he nailed each part of every song whether it was loud, loud, quiet, or one of DLC’s skin-tingling build-ups. The band as a whole, to say the least, was tight as fuck.

Listening to Dead Letter Circus’s recently released album “The Catalyst Fire”, you find a fairly generic alternative rock sound, and might not expect much originality in their live performance. Although this assumption isn’t particularly far off, some aspects of their set were worth special attention, such as how drummer Luke Williams had his own mic to sing back up while rhythm guitarist Tom Skerlj rocked some keys to add to the band’s already amazing dynamics.

Dead Letter Circus followed Twelve Foot Ninja, and opened for metal gods Periphery. Considering how heavy the two surrounding bands are, I was not expecting a responsive crowd for DLC. I can admittedly say I fucked up on this presumption, because when Kim Benzie asked the crowd to jump, they said “how fucking high”. The first song was pretty chill other than some cheering, but it didn’t take long for the folks on the floor to cause some damage to each other. Dead Letter Circus’s style doesn’t exactly shout “MOSH!” to me, but that really didn’t matter to the crowd. Not only was I impressed by the vocalist’s ability to get a reaction, I was about ready to shit when he dived off the stage onto the 20 by 30 foot dance floor in Ritual Nightclub, putting a cherry on top of sick fucking performance.

Although they may not have been the band I paid to see, there was nothing short of a good impression for Dead Letter Circus in my mind, and would recommend them to anybody who wants a mosh-tastic time, or who just wants to listen to some solid and well-performed tunes.

Reviewed and written by Bryan Little

Photos by Matthew Clark


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