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My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Monster Rock Orchestra, Last Bullet and the Mississauga Pops rock Yonge-Dundas Square

by Drew Rowsome

Fusing the raw power of rock n roll with the sweep and majesty of symphonic music has been attempted many times. Metallica succeeded brilliantly with their S&M album, Kiss and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (and a grease-painted, costumed children's choir) hit the pinnacle of camp with Alive IV, and innumerable pop bands and singers have milked the added pathos of a string section to varying effect. Monster Rock Orchestra, 55 players strong, now brings its ambitious mash-up to Yonge-Dundas Square for the second time.

"The combination of the monstrous wind orchestra of the Mississauga Pops, riveting rock band Last Bullet, followed by the rock-orchestra love child that is Monster Rock Orchestra, collide with lasers and result in a face-melting experience," says Vikas Kohli, the artistic director of the Monster Rock Orchestra. Set list potentials include Prince, Journey, Lorde, Elvis and even Taylor Swift. Pharell's "Happy" is reserved for first opening act, the Mississauga Pops.

"It's really cool," says Bryan Fontez, the lead singer of Last Bullet. "It's a good mix of rock and pop, songs everyone knows, "Sweet Child of Mine," Bruno Mars, Michael Jackson . . . Dynamic and heavy but light and fun. I was enjoying it a lot. Vikas was an orchestral director with a dream of more than a rock band, more than a cover band. He added high-end lights, lasers and smoke to create an experience."

Last Bullet were so riveting and well-received in last year's opening slot that they've not only been invited back, Fontez is performing two numbers as part of the Monster Rock Orchestra extravaganza. He laughs, "I'm more of a rapper in this. There's a mash-up of "Under Pressure" with "Ice Ice Baby," I'm doing the Vanilla Ice verses. And in "Walk This Way" I'm doing the Run DMC parts."

Is he worried about his all-original band being blown away by a "face-melting" orchestra doing well-loved or at least familiar tunes? "Without trying to sound overconfident," he says, "We're the most entertaining band in the city, probably the country. Our energy can't be matched. We go for broke, go big or go home. We've played every venue there is to play in Toronto except for the ACC and the Molson Ampitheatre, it's helped us grow. If Bon Jovi came and asked us to open, we'd be prepared. This is a chance for us to play in front of so many people and we're comfortable in the spotlight."

Monster Rock Orchestra, Last Bullet and the Mississauga Pops perform on Fri, Oct 7 at Yonge-Dundas Square, 1 Dundas St E. monsterrockorchestra.com, lastbulletmusic.com, mississaugapops.com

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