Pantychrist Rages On

by Bill Monahan

On Saturday, January 13, the H2O Lounge in Owen Sound will be blasting out Riot Grrrl power with a 4-act bill headlined by Hamilton’s legendary Pantychrist.  This veteran band has been making noises heard around the world off and on since their inception in 2003.  They’ve had more than one hiatus in their career, and a number of personnel changes, but they continue to return to peel the paint off the walls of any venue they play.

 

If Harvey Weinstein wasn’t already in hiding, Pantychrist band would send him there.  Raw and raucous as they are, the band has a history of supporting causes like Rock Against Rape, Breast Cancer Awareness, and Inasmuch Women’s Shelter.  Pantychrist songs typically focus on drug addiction, sexual freedom, manipulation and violence.   The take-no-prisoners attitude and the profanity laced lyrics roar off the stage.  The maelstrom centres around lead singer Danyell DeVille, described by Dixie TuckerMagazine as “a blustering fury tearing everyone and everything in her real or imagined way a new asshole,” while The Gate notes “she has the tonsils of a shrieking banshee”.

The focus of the band’s performance, Danyell DeVille is the one constant through many personnel changes over the years, with band members adopting names like Amy Hell, Patty Rotten (who became Patty Christ after the band settled on it moniker), Cari Corpse, and Jen O’Cyde.  For two years, after Patty Christ left the band in 2006, they had to resort to the expedient of a male drummer, Nick Tops from Toronto band The G-Men, but after two years with him in the lineup, unable to find a female replacement, the band temporarily called it quits.  They were back in business in 2010 when Cari Corpse took over the drums.  Other than that brief departure, the band has always been all-female. The latest incarnation of the band’s lineup includes guitarist Emma-O, bassist Lexxi La Roux and drummer Emma Sunstrum.

An interesting aspect of the band is the way it has been the focus of work by other artists over the years, particularly Danyell DeVille.  In 2010 she was included in a series of paintings by Halifax artist Jennie Philpott representing the contributions of underground female musicians.  In 2016, she was a focus of a book about the Hamilton music scene by Andrew Baulcomb, former senior arts editor at The Silhouette, McMaster’s student newspaper. In 2014, the band’s song, “Bitch” was included in the Hollywood stage production “Riot Grrrl Saves The World” by award winning playwright Louisa Hill.   In 2006, a DVD entitled “Skirting With Disaster” was released, the result of a documentary film crew that followed the band around for a month.

This clip from that DVD gives you an idea of what you can expect on Saturday night at H2O.

If her onstage persona is not enough to convince you of Danyell DeVille’s punk credentials, a murder charge a few years back should.  It wasn’t a publicity stunt.  It was also unsavoury, really a case of her entanglement in a disagreement between drug dealers.

It was this time of year in 2012 that DeVille, addicted at the time to opioids, was approached by a drug dealer and former roommate who was in search of his “business partner” who he felt had ripped him off.  She texted him with the address but had no further involvement.  When it turned out that the confrontation between drug dealers ended in the death of one of them, she was caught in the snare of the subsequent investigation.

The initial murder charge was downgraded to much lesser charges when the facts came to light.  At the victim’s apartment the argument escalated and he was left on the floor with his hands tied behind his back.  The idea of robbing him to even the score was fruitless because he had nothing worth robbing.  Neighbours ignored his cries for help, no one checked on him, and he passed away from diabetic complications.  In the end, the former roommate pled guilty to manslaughter and an accomplice pled guilty to robbery.

DeVille also pled guilty to a robbery charge and subsequently served three years in the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, where she used her talents to entertain her fellow inmates.  In the meantime, the band stuck by her, posting a message on Facebook that said “Danielle is the CURRENT and ONLY singer of Pantychrist.”

In early 2014 the track “No Gods No Masters” appeared on the “Assault & BATtery: A Benefit For Bat World Sanctuary” compilation. It became one of the top 5  most listened to and downloaded tracks on the album and was featured on radio and podcast year end Top 10 lists.  The band now has a 13-song album ready for release this year.

Rounding out the bill on Saturday is the Barrie punk band Beaver Slap, local songwriter Mary 5e, and Owen Sound based Rebecca and The Arcades.

Whatever the weather on Saturday night, chances are the snow and ice will be receding outside of the H2O lounge as a result of the heat blasting from the stage.

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