By Ben Colver
After over a decade of existence, four albums and literally hundreds of live shows at an unknown number of diverse venues, the smalls are at the brink of retirement.
The final leg of their Goodbye Forever tour brought them full circle through Alberta, ending a Canadian hard core music era in the same cities where it began.
On Fri., Oct. 19, the smalls came to play the MacEwan Hall Ballroom. The fans jamming in knew the score–many of us had seen
the smalls in towns across the country or right here at any one of the many Calgary clubs they had filled before.
There was something different about this show, however. As we crowded in front of the stage, we could all feel the history hanging in the air, mixed with the sweat and humidity generated by the opening bands. Those moments before the smalls took the stage seemed long and introspective as we took time to appreciate the good times their music had given us and looked forward to the upcoming set.
The smalls are an unassuming band–they could be any hard working band you’ve ever seen. They were just four guys on a low stage looking almost self-conscious in front of their battered amps and Terry Johnson’s drum kit. Behind the band hung the only decoration, a small banner with the band’s simple logo on it.
After launching into their set, the smalls established their identity better than any banner or stage setup could. Chugging guitar riffs from Dug Bevans teamed with Corby Lund’s grinding bass create the smalls’ signature sound–an unclassifiable blend of rock, punk, country and speed metal. Mike Caldwell’s vocals ranged throughout the evening, weaving in and out between the riffs, while telling us stories about horse thieves, warriors, lovers, wizards, trappers and gunslingers.
For hours, the smalls rocked the ballroom and all the fans inside, playing song after song from their impressive repertoire. Returning to the stage for numerous encores, it was obvious that neither the band nor the fans wanted to call it a night. As with all good things, the show did come to an end, along with the
career of a band that always went their own way. In doing so, the smalls created their own legend.
It is one that will live on long after the last notes faded to silence on Friday night.