Live Review: Canning

StageIt  Chicago, IL

Contact: [email protected]

Web: canningmusic.net

Players: Fritz Armstrong, bass, vocals; Tom Miller, drums; Ricky Canning, guitar, vocals

Material: Guitarist Ricky Canning’s name obviously inspired the handle for this modernistic, psychedelic outfit. As such, he’s clearly the group’s mastermind and ultimate decider. Despite this, the contributions from the trio’s remaining two-thirds carry equal heft. Citing a wide range of influences that includes Phish, Aphex Twin, Black Sabbath, Allman Brothers, Frank Zappa, Tool and Cream, their sound is akin to heavy metal merged with today’s jam band scene set in the ‘60s.

Musicianship: Canning’s members possess considerable style. Watching them plunk away on their instruments remains a pleasure. Neon notes glow with ingenuity and wild abandon. Unfortunately, the group’s songwriting doesn’t rise to the same level as their playing abilities. It’s unlikely that audiences ever leave their shows singing a chorus, even if each and every attendee did, in fact, dance furiously during the set. Also, Ricky Canning’s vocals don’t offer enough heft to serve a meaningful emotional punch.

Performance: Canning excels when performing in front of a crowd. It’s challenging to translate that same electricity over the internet, yet the group did an admirable job compensating for the limits of the medium. Patterned lights swirled across the walls throughout the gig. Miller’s drums were illuminated with shifting colors. Best of all, multiple camera angles allowed viewers a clear perspective on all aspects of their playing. Though they took time to mention social media channels and merch availability, little else was said. They clearly prefer cutting to the chase and jamming out.

Summary: When it comes to virtual shows, presentation is key. In this regard, Canning has a major leg up over its competition. That being said, flash only goes so far. What truly counts is the music. While the band delivers a high-voltage flavor worthy of Mount Olympus, Canning’s material lacks stickiness. Still, the group appears eager to sharpen its voice. They perform online every few weeks and continually release songs on various platforms. In time, their efforts might unearth a unique sonic feel that captures the ears of a forward-thinking tribe. – Andy Kaufmann