Sebastian at The Opera House on Friday, May 17,
-- by Joe Curtis --
I went to the Opera House on Queen St. E. near Broadview Ave. the night of Fri. May 17, 2002 to see the debut of the Sebastian Agnello Trio, featuring Sebastian (Seb) Agnello on guitar and vocals, Kim Doolittle, his long-time musical compatriot, playing bass, and Mike Van Steinberg, helping to rock it up on drums. They came on like blockbusters to the 20-something crowd , who ate it up. Sebastian's forceful vocals and Hendrix-like scorching guitar expertise on his black Les Paul, was incredible. Kim's bass playing was relaxed and professional all the way; as was Mike's heavy duty drumming, throughout the Seb Trio's entire five-tune set.
All the songs were Seb originals, and had lyrical stories and messages that were as highly intelligent in what they had to say, as they were in being great entertainment. The brains behind the tunes, and their performances, (Seb himself), is probably why Seb has survived decades as a performer of his original compositions, standing the test of time with at least two generations of music lovers.
The first great tune, "I'm A Criminal" (a Punk protest song if I ever heard one), is probably reflective of Seb's anti-establishment leanings due to socio-economic injustices and anti-artistic freedom which reigns supreme (and legal!). His powerful vocals and hard-drivin' guitar licks on " Criminal …", got the audience's attention and kept it there for the rest of the band's time on stage. (Which was all too short!) :Lyrics like "Your jokes are as funny as a kick in the ass!" in the second great tune, "Sharks, Professional Courtesy", is a simply put lyrical inventiveness in Seb tunes, which captures the listener's interest and keeps it there. "I Love My TV" initially reminded me of a story I heard about Alice Cooper having 20 TV's scattered all around his house, so he could watch TV wherever he was. The tempo changes, with accompanying mood swings in this one, was very imaginative.
I just remember "T.O. Girl Of My Youth" being a hard-drivin' tune, full of rebellious spirit. The fact that it was about reminiscences of a girl with purple hair and a tongue-stud, and the embarrassment of how to dump her, escaped me, until Seb's info later, illuminated it all for me. The last powerhouse tune that night, called "Tell It To The Big Man", was an intelligent, and insightful look at teenage prostitution, begging the question, "why does it have to go on?" Another awareness tune from the brilliant mind of Sebastian Agnello, who with Kim and Mike, played up a storm, and left the audience with a good feeling from being highly entertained throughout the entire all-too-short set. (It seemed like it was much longer!)
I can't leave off without a brief mention of the other fantastic bands at the Opera House that night. The group before Seb, had a singer whose expressive vocals and friendly audience rapport, reminded me of how harp player, Jerome Godboo handles a crowd. Virgin Pornstar who came on after Seb, organized the whole four-band event. I unfortunately missed their set, because I was down in the band room talking to Seb and Kim. From what I gather, they have a big following of die-hard fans, so it's too bad I missed their set. I just remember the girl who sang for them, being a good-looking blonde. Apparently there was at least one record rep from Sony there that night to see the headliners, Snowblind, which is why Seb said he cut his seven-song set to five, so there'd be more time to feature them.
Snowblind came on like seasoned pros and worked their major fans, assembled there, to the nth degree. The singer was very expressive in his vocals, and rhythm guitar playing. The high-energy pace of their set was creative and inventive too! Their great set ended with the lead guitarist calmly leaving his guitar in front of his amp, while he went to some controls at the front of the stage. He worked these controls in a lead rhythm beat, to get out some amazingly melodic lead guitar riffs electronically, while his guitar (whose feedback was used), was sitting idle behind him at his amp. The big turnout of music lovers that night, included the members of Hellz Kitchen Show. This reflected the quality of music there (where musicians like to hang out on their night off!)