by Mark Allard-Will
photos by Scott Roos and Mark Allard-Will
Your first gig before the waiting eyes of the public can be an experience to induce pre-show jitters in even the most confident of frontmen and, waiting to take the stage at the newly opened Vizzy Stage in Saskatoon, this was no different for Regina's ZAYD. "It's nerve-racking, because there's lots riding on it; such as reputation is a huge thing," said the up-and-coming rock frontman himself, "I told my band too, I don't care if there's going to be ten people, five people or even one person coming to the show, I want to make sure this is where we put up the show."
Zayd hyping the crowd
Our conversation with ZAYD came to a close, as he rushed off several minutes before showtime to make last minute preparations with his band. The time shot by in the blink of an eye, the house lights went down, the musicians took to the stage and, finally, Zayd came bouncing across the stage as the drums kicked in on his hit single "Father"; the polished music video directed and shot by Jared Robinson of Moose Jaw's Nebulus Entertainment playing on the projection screen behind them as they went.
With all the confidence of a seasoned Hard Rock band with regular slots at European summer festivals, you'd have been forgiven for believing that this was anything but Zayd and his backing band's first show as the ZAYD solo project; but it was. Supported by the talented band members responsible for Behind The Days, Zayd was lent extra credence to his top notch frontman persona by the drum solos, keyboard solos and bass solos of Andrew Kulcśar, Josh McDonald and Matthew Nadon, as well as the undeniable showmanship of guitarist Josh Daly. A talented band that brought their A-game for a waiting Saskatonian audience.
Josh Daly (guitar)
Andrew Kulcśar (drums)
As evidenced by ZAYD as a packaged product - between his music videos, head shots, singles and graphic design - he also felt like the full meal deal here on stage too; with polished computerized video assets created by Regina's Sean Xio He playing behind the band in set syncopation loops as they performed.
The setlist had a fair and even-handed split between original ZAYD material and covers performed as tributes to those elite rock stars (chiefly Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell) that inspired the young artist to pick up a guitar and microphone in the first place, book-ended with ZAYD tracks for the opening and closing thirds of the performance.
The audience was in to it, while timid to break away from the venue's table seating arrangement - almost certainly due to the very real concern of transmission during our current times with escalated delta variant case numbers, the crowd nonetheless avidly captured video on the cellphones and clapped and cheered along. Even in these uncertain times, Zayd showed himself true as a man with a dab-hand with an audience.
Matthew Nadon (bass) and Josh Daly
Josh McDonald (keyboard/guitar)
The concert had noble aspirations behind it too, as Zayd - himself both a survivor of mental health issues and a volunteer for the Canadian Mental Health Association - hosted a prize raffle at the show, from which 100% of proceeds went to CMHA's Saskatoon branch. The prize bundle for the raffle was supplied by local Saskatchewan businesses and Saskatchewan branches of national Canadian outfits, including Regina's Tall Grass Apparel and Dandy's Artisan Ice Cream, Outlook's Riverview Esthetic by Destiny and Saskatoon's The Old Spaghetti Factory.
Zayd, ever the showman
Ultimately, the raffle raised $180 for CMHA Saskatoon - which Zayd personally rounded up to $200 - and the concert provided an attractive first look at a fast-rising Saskatchewan rock talent to Saskatoon music fans.
With some exciting developments coming in the months to follow, and a full debut album coming in 2022, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled on both North Sask Music Zine and ZAYD's socials for big announcements as they break.