For fans of: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators, Velvet Revolver, Royal Blood
“Born to burn on a wick of destruction, no I won’t burn out.” Ambition, magnetism, and resilience; all of these words could do Calgary hard rockers In/Vertigo justice. Their social media presence, their lyrics, as well as my experience watching and playing with them, clearly show four guys who want to do something they love that they can share with audiences big or small. In/Vertigo may be a name that is only a few years old, but this is certainly not the musicians’ first rodeo. Namely, guitarist Shaddy Elsaghir and bassist (as well as remarkable multi-instrumentalist) Duncan McCartney previously played together in Calgary heavy metal outfit Lucid Scream. What was born out of those Iron Maiden meets Guns N Roses roots is In/Vertigo: four hard rocking, and hard working, beating hearts.
The band’s sound is festooned with the tattered hangings of a grey denim vest, the alarming bite of a cold night in the city, and of course, the looming scent of Crown Royal. The band have too many influences to name, but apparent inspirations include Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators, Royal Tusk, and Royal Blood. The band’s self described “badass rock” includes being a “no BS, rock riffing, vocal screaming, groove machine playing rock n' roll the way it should be played.” Building off of the band’s aforementioned YouTube channel bio, vocalist Reed Alton establishes the band’s message: “The message I think we bring to people is we don't give a shit what sells. We do this for us, and if people dig it, then cool. We aren't asking for much, if you are on board we have room for whoever believes in our music.”
“We had always felt a little bit like outcasts, and didn’t quite fit in with our contemporaries” Alton expresses. “[In/Vertigo are] 4 different personalities, likes and dislikes, we found a common ground musically and set our sights on a sound and vision we all believe in.” Watching, but mostly listening to this shaggy quartet has a sonic impact that needs to be experienced to be believed. While “heavy” may be an unfaithful term to their sound, it certainly describes the feeling in the air when the band takes the stage. “When 4 people agree to get behind something, it gives it some weight” guitarist Shaddy Elsaghir explains. Elsaghir’s explanation definitely allows one to connect the dots on why the group is called In/Vertigo, as it allegorically justifies the magnitude of the experience, and of the brotherhood of the four musicians.
The band’s latest EP is called “Sex, Love & Chaos,” and was christened under such a title to denote that “we are real big fans of all three of those things!” as bassist Duncan McCartney humorously quips. “For real, each of those words is a central theme to the songs written for the EP” McCartney discusses. Song titles like “Chains,” “The Night,” and “Bad Enemy” all conjure up images that relate to the band’s titular rock n’ roll trinity. Track 2 of the record “The Night” exudes a sexy, red room strut with an infectious hook. “The story and idea behind ‘The Night’ is how people flip 180 during the evening, and namely the weekends. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and normal folk can become fiends and let out their dark side” Reed Alton explains. I recall being at the band’s release show for this EP in 2018, and once they went into this number, something came over the women around me. It is as if drummer Keaton Byfield loads his kick drum with pheromones that shower over the audience with every beat. The accompanying music video should create a similar sensation for all of us.
The music video for “The Night” takes a different approach than the band’s previous video for “Bad Enemy.” “We wanted the concept of “The Night” music video to be based mainly around the band, the things we do, and where any particular night might take us. We are the main characters in this video, and the story being told is the story of our lives as the members of In/Vertigo” Byfield illustrates. Duncan McCartney takes the torch from there, elaborating “our first video had multiple locations, actors, crowds, a storyline, and all sorts of craziness. This latest one is the complete opposite, where we boiled it down to just us and some very close friends involved.” Upon my first viewing of the video, not only was I seduced by the raw documentation of each band member’s vibe, but also by the outrageous and decadent use of the most rock n’ roll element of all: fire. Like a true spectacle, the flames being thrown about represent the internal feeling of In/Vertigo’s members onstage, as well as their audience at any show.
There has been much discussion of In/Vertigo’s live show, and not to be a broken record, but it is definitely something that needs to be experienced. The emphasis of their shows abandon theatrics in favour of something more saccharine to the ear, and concentrated on vibe over spectacle (despite the pyrotechnics in “The Night” video). The band have had many nights to hone this brand, which eventually scored them the cowtown dream of playing the Scotiabank Saddledome. The sequence of this show in the music video for “The Night” gets the goosebumps popping up. “It was a surreal experience to be where our heroes have performed before” Reed Alton reminices. “We felt so small in that massive of a venue, but we sounded huge and played our hearts out. It went by in a flash.” Despite the fast times at the Saddledome, in true In/Vertigo fashion, the party could not end there. They rushed off to another show at King’s Head Pub immediately after.
The band are no strangers to the road, which is so prominently depicted in the video for “The Night.” Shaddy Elsaghir describes the In/Vertigo tour essentials as green room prosecco, beer, and of course the rock star essential beverage, Jack Daniels. “There's nothing like the energy of a great rock n' roll show, and we try to bring that every time” Duncan McCartney says. “Each one is unpredictable and different; it's like lighting a fire and seeing what happens.” Perhaps the pyro in the music video for “The Night” has far deeper symbolism than I originally inferred?
As for future plans for the band, Shaddy Eslaghir is feeling rather imprecise about the future schedule. “With covid changing everything, we’re taking a step back right now. Plans of a US and European tour need to go on hold till the world is somewhat normal again. We have a ton of music to release, and this narrows our scope now. With 1980s gas prices, a full scale Canadian tour may be on the horizon.” It would be incredible to see the band’s new deal with Rockshots Records take them across the sea, but any Calgarian would be treating themselves majorly to catch the boys next time they play here in town.