Over the years I’ve adamantly tried to distance myself from promulgating the concept of the “guilty pleasure,” in this instance referring to the bands and music which, based on your overall taste, don’t follow, or run opposite to, your expressed preferences. With that being said, there was a time when A Day To Remember would have been called my guilty pleasure, but fuck making excuses. The truth of the matter is they’re catchy as fuck, and have thrown down some amazing records over the course of their career. Even outside of that they deserve to be revered by all musicians for their business prowess and for breaking industry standards by self-financing and releasing their last two records. ADTR has commanded my love and respect since 2011 when I discovered their album What Separates Me From You, but unfortunately I’d never had the chance to properly see them live, so I was quite excited to cover their concert at Montreal’s M Telus theater with support from Wage War and Moose Blood.
Ocala Florida’s Wage War were first up, and it took exactly ten seconds for me to pretty much get the gist of their entire set. WW is the unfortunate example that there’s still a strong market for stagnant metalcore music, virtually unchanged since the early-to-mid 2000s aside from improved production, even worse fashion, and more bouncy breakdowns. Giving credit where credit is due, the group are all proficient musicians who can write decent songs. But for me, the only way this band was going to blow me away given the style of music was if they put on a spectacular live show, which unfortunately fell short as well. The most enjoyable moments of their music came exclusively from guitarist Cody Quistad, who’s singing melodies provided the only thing memorable about their set. I would actually enjoy the band far more if they exclusively stayed in the softer spectrum with Cody as the exclusive vocalist .
Hailing from Canterbury England, Moose Blood was quite distinctively different from the other bands on tour. Normally I love it when groups tour together who aren’t strictly of the same genre, so the show has a nice dynamic flow within it. But Moose Blood were far lighter musically than their tour couterparts, and probably would have served the night better as the opener seeing as they didn’t seem to be larger in status than Wage War. Stylistically falling into the archetypal emo vibe, the band’s music reminds me of old Further Seems Forever and Juliana Theory among others. Although I found them enjoyable, there was nothing particularly striking about the show, and it didn’t seem to particularly capture the audience either.
You know your fans are pumped for a show when mosh pits and singalongs start breaking out for the between-set music, to the point where the setlist seemed engineered for that very reason. Brilliant!
With a literal bang and confetti shower, A Day To Remember tookthe stage, opening with fan favourite “All I Want” from What Separates Me From You. I noticed rather immediately that singer Jeremy Mckinnon wasn’t hitting his lines directly on beat and was sort of sluggishly catching up after a word or two. This trend would continue for most of the show and frankly I found it incredibly off-putting. I couldn’t figure out if he was doing it on purpose, drunk, or maybe his in-ear monitoring was off. In any case, his vocals being off sync so often made enjoyably singing along almost impossible for a good portion of the show, which is sad because there’re so many great sing along opportunities.
Their set was a great balance between Homesick, What Separates Me From You, and their newest album Bad Vibrations. I wish they had played more from Common Courtesy, but what we got was still a win. The overall flow of the setlist was great, at the mid to ¾ mark slowing down to softer tracks and acoustic sections, giving everyone a little breathing room for the last spring to the finish line where the band ended with favorites “All Signs Point To Lauderdale” and “The Downfall Of Us All”.
Although I was expecting a bit more energy from the band, the show was pretty darn entertaining, and the fans certainly helped bring the whole experience together with their vigor.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Kate Erickson