With streaming as the new platform for musicians during this era of quarantine, Devin Townsend has stepped up, donating proceeds to various healthcare workers: #1 was in support of the Vancouver Hospital Foundation, #2 supported the National Health Service in the UK, and the final, planned for tonight (May 2nd, 2020), is going to the North Shore University Hospital (NY). The stream series started on April 18th, 2020, and we caught the second stream, which took place on April 25th, 2020.
The stream opened in pure silence as Townsend worked out some technical difficulties. After fumbling frantically (and amusingly) around with his home studio a moment, the sound came in and with no greeting (presumably he greeted the viewers before the sound came on) went straight into “Storm.” This proceeded quickly into “Hyperdrive,” which was great, if perhaps missing Anneke van Giersbergen‘s vocals.
The stream had (at least) three cameras: the main still camera, a cell phone cam attached to an oscillating fan, and a wobbly “headbang cam” attached to an electric mixer and had a psychedelic neon color filter on it. These allowed for a variety of angles for viewers and Townsend, naturally, made faces to all of them throughout the stream. He then played, surprisingly, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD‘s “Almost Again” for the third time live, followed by “Stormbending.” The former made a great impression and showed off a bit of Townsend‘s heavier side that is so rarely seen these days.
“I am Ziltoid the Omniscient. Together we are locked down in this fetid masturbatorium known as quarantine,” said Ziltoid the puppet before “ZTO,” leaving Townsend chuckling somewhat embarrassedly at his own sense of humor. “March of the Poozers” was an excellent treat and a reminder to re-listen to some of his other albums during the quarantine.
The way Townsend has arranged these streams feels a lot more natural/less awkward than the bands hyping up a crowd who isn’t there, as he merely says a thank you and continues onward, but doesn’t pretend there’s anyone in front of him. He gave us a fantastic treat with “Bastard” and admitted that the final song was very hard to do on his own, but “where there’s a will, there’s a thing!” This was for “Genesis,” of course. Flicking a pick at the camera at the end was a nice touch. He swapped lyrics out to sing along to something falling down in his studio and told viewers he was going to bed after the song, though it seemed he had extra time for one more song and darted around the studio, almost starting before the sound vanished again and he had to dart off once more. The set ended officially with “Kingdom,” a natural closer for the Canadian legend, which worked as a sort of encore to the show.
If watching Townsend ham it up and kick ass sounds like a good time to you, you’d better watch these streams. Having raised over $50,000 the first time and 65,000£ the second, fans the world round are more than willing to support his cause during these strange times. Stageit was a good platform for the stream as well, allowing supporters to buy extra tickets to “hitchhikers” who were short on funds. Overall, this was perhaps one of the best streams we’ve seen quality-wise; though there was some audio-sync trouble with this particular show when it streamed live, the overall fun that was had, the way Townsend interacts with the cams/audience, and the quality of the music was really fun and absolutely worth watching if you’re a fan of Townsend, or even curious about him.
3. Almost Again
6. March of the Poozers
8. Kingdom (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman
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