On the freezing cold night of Feb. 7, Winnipeg’s punks, metalheads and old-school headbangers gathered at the Park Theatre for Crowbar’s sold-out show to celebrate the still burning embers of hard metal and sludge.
It was the kind of show where shots were offered at the coat check and microphone tests were done with screams.n the freezing cold night of Feb. 7, Winnipeg’s punks, metalheads and old-school headbangers gathered at the Park Theatre for Crowbar’s sold-out show to celebrate the still burning embers of hard metal and sludge.
Crowbar stopped by Winnipeg on their Corrosion of Conformity tour, promoting the band’s 11th studio album The Serpent Only Lies. The metal icons were joined by the raging Weedeater and screaming Mothership.
The New Orleans band has been active since 1990 with veteran vocalist and guitarist Kirk Windstein at its core. While other bandmates have come and gone, Windstein is Crowbar’s only remaining original member.
Now looking akin to a punk Santa Claus, Kirk Windstein recalls the ennui of his early 20s when he began his career over 30 years ago.
“I really [didn’t] know what the fuck I wanted to do,” said Windstein.
“I said screw it, I got a full-time job, saved up, started buying gear […] I said, ‘If I don’t try now, I’ll hate myself for the rest of my life.’”
In the early 1970s, the first album Windstein owned was actually Elton John’s Greatest Hits Volume 1.
His biggest inspirations came shortly after.
“What really did it for me was KISS […] Ace Frehley is still one of my favourite guitarists ever, my biggest influence, and definitely the reason I picked up a guitar,” he said.
While Windstein was inspired by ’70s rock, he started his band with the intention of creating his own sound and style.
“Our original idea for Crowbar was just to do something that nobody else was doing,” said Windstein.
“People call [Crowbar’s music] ‘sludge,’ I don’t really call it that. It doesn’t have a genre. It’s just heavy music. It’s Crowbar. Love us or hate us, we don’t sound like anybody else.
“I’ve seen so many bands come and go because of lack of originality, or because they play a certain style of music, you know, one genre’s really hot for a couple years and then fades.”
According to Windstein, the key to Crowbar’s longevity was taking it slow and steady, developing a unique sound rather than hopping on trends.
Within its distinct style, Crowbar retains signature elements of New Orleans music.
“The biggest thing with New Orleans music is the riffs, number one, but really the drumming, the half-time groove stuff is what really moves,” Windstein said as the crew setting the stage shook the Park Theatre’s green room with heavy booming drumbeats.
New Orleans is renowned for its high-calibre musicians.
“None of the [New Orleans] bands sound like each other, but they all have something in common. It’s very strange.”
Crowbar’s Park Theatre show was packed wall-to-wall with the majority of attendees raising the sign of the horns. For this niche audience, it was a welcome reprieve from an especially cold winter.
Hidden from the cold, men with salt-and-pepper beards roared for the apocalypse, releasing the inner teenager that never really went away.