I work as an elementary school teacher by day, and my last Wednesday of classes before summer vacation was the perfect night for a hardcore metal and punk show. I was ready to hear some crazy music and have my hearing become just a little worse. (Although, let’s be real; heavy metal or punk can’t really compete noise-wise with the screams of small children when they are mere days away from freedom.) Despite the fact that I firmly believe four similar-sounding bands in a row is a recipe for monotony, all four acts did a stellar job of keeping the night running and the crowd engaged. Everyone in that audience was clearly as ready as I was, and I’m sure they did not go home disappointed.
The opening act, The Vulgar Deli was an unexpected surprise. They weren’t listed on the event headline, so I didn’t even know they were slated to appear. I’m sure glad they did. Their set was marred by sound problems as I could barely hear Uncle Costa screaming, but they more than made up for it with pure energy, charisma, and humour. How could a band that has song titles like “Shit Rolls Up Hill” and who playfully calls the audience whiny little bitches be anything less than a shit ton of fun? Although they come from a hardcore background, there is a definite groove under their bluster. Even though there were still people trickling into Café Campus, everyone seemed to gravitate immediately to the stage as the band pummelled through each of their very short tunes (two minutes, maximum). Special shout-out to their drummer (simply known as Frank) who immediately stood out for his killer fills, which is all the more impressive considering how fucking fast these guys were playing.
INCITE felt like a bit of a step down after The Vulgar Deli’s memorable set, which is strange considering that they are easily a much bigger draw. People didn’t seem to be as keen or as enthusiastic, which was evident by lead vocalist’s Richie C’s near-constant attempts to pump up the crowd. I have to give him respect for giving everything he had to move the audience. He managed to earn their hoots and hollers by the end, but that wasn’t before having to endure one too many “MONTREAL!” screams and jokingly telling the crowd that he was going to kill us. Such taunting is the norm at these kinds of shows, so it wasn’t that anyone was offended, it just fell kind of flat. Musically their set was very solid and the most purely metal of the show, as there were no other genre influences that my ears could pick up. If one had been looking for a strictly heavy metal performance, INCITE would have been the act to see.
Canadian legends Dayglo Abortions were BATSHIT INSANE, and easily my favourite act of the night. Their combination of punk rock, heavy metal, and a genuine talent for not giving a fuck what you think makes them endlessly exciting. Based on the band energy and chemistry it’s easy to see why they have been underground favourites for almost four decades. The star of the show was easily Murray Acton AKA “The Cretin” who, with his long hair and half-naked aging body, looks like Iggy Pop and Angus Young’s love child. When the man sings he is somehow apathetic and full of rage, all at the same time. Despite his always hunched, disheveled appearance, he knows how to shred some killer solos.
The crowd was just as bonkers as the band was. It was like Where’s Waldo puzzle of drunken sloppiness or watching The Three Stooges for 45 minutes. In the blitzkrieg, there were countless people rushing the stage, numerous ass-first bails to the ground, a man who broke a beer bottle and then immediately fell in the puddle it produced, and the saddest attempt at a stage dive I’ve ever seen. It was a giant rock and roll mess and my god, was it glorious!
The mood of the night immediately shifted when Brujeria hit the stage. Gone was the sheer lunacy of Dayglo Abortions set, and in crept a sense of anger and frustration. This was not directed at the band but at the sense of the injustice that the band brought with them to the show. Brujeria is a Mexican grindcore band, and as such led the crowd in raising our middle fingers and yelling at the top of our lungs, “FUCK DONALD TRUMP!” In the week where the public learned of children being locked in cages due to a cruel and evil American immigration policy, it was incredibly cathartic to voice our frustrations. The crowd continued the moshpit, but there was a sense of urgency in the air. On stage, it was just as brutal. Brujeria is essentially an onslaught of down-tuned guitars and not just one, but two growling, screaming vocalists. I loved the way Juan Brujo and Fantasma’s vocal lines interweaved so perfectly and the way they finished each other sentences. It had an almost hip-hop-like quality that was slightly reminiscent of Beastie Boys or Run DMC except, you know, more gravelly and rage-filled. I couldn’t understand a word they said. (Not just because I don’t know Spanish, but because anytime a death metal vocalist growls their lyrics become unintelligible to me.) That didn’t matter, though, because whatever it was, they sure as hell meant it!
In the end, I walked out of the venue absolutely exhausted. After nearly four hours of a non-stop pummelling of the senses, I can safely safe that I got my fix. You may think that was a bad thing, but when I went to school the next day with ringing in my ears, dealing with my pent-up students ready to get the hell out for the summer seemed like an absolute breeze.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson