Originally scheduled to take place the Summit Music Hall, last night's Swollen Members show was moved to the Marquis Theater. The dichotomy of confused Christian rock fans hoping to see Red and the vodka-drunk, skull-faced soldiers of the Swollen Army made for some humorous awkward exchanges out front, namely a father scoffing at the scent of weed being smoked somewhere in the vicinity and then discovering that the show he had intended to be at had been moved. From a bum.
Despite a change in venues and a lineup change for Swollen Members -- a big scene attached to the ticket window advised: NOTICE: MADCHILD WILL NOT BE PERFORMING TONIGHT (a visa issue is evidently to blame) -- the show went on with Prime Element (formerly Three the Hardway), Vancouver's City Real and Saigon warming things up. City Real recently started touring with Swollen and Saigon, and he is a worthy addition. Brought out by A.V.I.U.S. of Prime Element, who tore up the stage, City Real took complete control and dropped his set, chin up the whole time.
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MTV News correspondent Sway, in town for the Get Schooled Event at George Washington High School on Friday, was on hand at the Marquis in support of Saigon. He took the stage to put a little hop in the step of some stragglers before Saigon took the stage. Handing out some posters to the front-line of girls swiping at Saigon's chest and hoping for a hand caress, Sway mainly just smiled and watched his homie destroy it. Saigon, meanwhile, smiled ear-to-ear for the whole set. Sweat pouring and towel spinning, he called for a "SAIGON" chant before he commanded the lights down. What appeared to be the close of his set actually was the opening for Prevail and Rob The Viking.
Aside from the stage lacking the other MC half of Swollen Members, Prevail and Rob the Viking owned the Marquis. Known for super high energy, jumping, fist-pumping, blunt-smoking, Heineken-sipping concerts, Prevail held true and jumped on the crowd at the first song, "Red Dragon." This scratched into Nelly Furtado's declaration of survival in "Breathe." Prevail made sure Canadian passport officials could hear the Marquis yelling "MADCHILD," on account of his absence.
A lot of the songs that were on Black Magic, an album released over four years ago, made the set list and Rob the Viking and City Real stood in for Madchild, additions that were well received and actually delivered with clean precision. Surprisingly, City Real covering Madchild made for a good show. Swollen has done this set for years, but with City covering half, it sounded fresh, revived and remixed.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK By The Way: No tour bus in sight Personal Bias: I will always go see Swollen Members. It's a reason to drink Red Bull and Vodka. Overheard: "MadChild IS Swollen Members." Wrong.