South of us, there are rumours of a wall being constructed. Here in the North, with temperatures under 20 degrees Celsius, winter has come. I say this because you’d never be able to tell from the show that unfolded in front of me. The crowd was ripe and hyped, the bands were scorching. It was a blizzard of metalcore and this is what I saw.
The opening band, Ocean Grove from Australia, hit the stage and began their set with some pre-recorded track behind a jam before kicking into their song, “Beers.” The singer, Luke Holmes, slunk around the stage as he rattled off rap-like rhythmic vocals. Juxtaposed against Holmes’ heavy hitting hard notes, bassist Dale Tanner provided a subtle clean melody that floated above the rest of the mix. Tanner also rocked some slicked back hair and a set of aviators. He was essentially a poster-boy for a Top Gun remake.
My one beef with their set was that the kickdrum was very low in the mix. For their brand of energetic funk/rap/metal, it could have used more. At times, the sound would be bumped up to earth rattling proportions and then be quickly backed off. It was a shame that it was so wishy-washy through the set. Other than that, they were tight and played some good, groovy music.
ERRA came next and they were my favourite band of the night, if only for the way the totally devastated the venue with their second song of the night, “Drift.” It started with guitarist Sean Price tapping out an absurd melodic line; how he never missed a note throughout the song, I’ll never know. The crowd, already almost bursting at the seams, began clapping out their own rhythm. It surely pumped the band up because they destroyed the place from that point on. I loved the way that JT Cavey and Jesse Cash split vocal duties and styles, with the growls and the cleans respectively. It added a versatility to the band that made their complexity stand out. I was doubly impressed with the way Cash was able to carry his high notes, screaming into the mic with enough force to launch an F-18; too bad his mic was ear-splittingly loud for the majority of the show. It peaked a bit and almost blew my eardrums out of my head. Other than that, it was a perfect performance.
Three mini platforms were set up at the forefront of the stage and the lights began flashing between blue and red as the band, Born Of Osiris, stepped out from the wings, much to the crowds overwhelming delight. The first thing I noticed was the kickdrum was finally mic’d up properly, but the cymbals were lost in the punishing, pummelling wall of sound the band elicited. C’est la vie. The second thing I noticed was the relentlessness of bassist David DeRocha. When he wasn’t dancing in stationary circles or running to and fro across the stage, he was standing in a split stance, headbanging so hard I thought he was going to smash his head on the ground. I also got to see primary singer, Ronnie Canizaro interact with the crowd by highfiving a crowd surfer during “Follow The Signs.” Good times.
And then there was August Burns Red. My one question before the show was how many breakdowns could they fit into a set. The answer was, All The Breakdowns! Anyway, I loved their stage setup and light show. It was a non-stop onslaught of colour changes that fit the beat and were very visually satisfying. Most notably was the giant flame perched behind the drum kit that flowed and glowed to whatever mood the band saw fit. During “Frost,” the whole stage was awash in bitter blue, while during the previous two songs they swapped between yellow and red. Very fitting.
I guess the most impressive part of August Burns Red is how they could do these intricate stop/start chugging, double bass blasting beats with nary a musician missing a stroke. It was pure musical genius. I loved the way John Benjamin Brubaker was jammin’ through amazingly tight solos while lighting up the stage with his presence. I thoroughly lost my shit when, to open their encore, drummer Matt Greiner powered into and out of a dubious double kick encrusted drum solo before launching into their live debut of “Dangerous.”
All in all, it was a brutal night of delicious metal music that left goosebumps on my skin. What did you think, dear reader? Were you one of the many that raised a lighter to “Marianas Trench?” Or, were you content to just stand at the back, soak in the grooves, and occasionally throw your empty beer can into the unsuspecting crowd? (Spoilers, you’re a dickhead if you did that. Don’t be a dickhead.)
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy