I had the pleasure of attending a sparsely attended pop-punk show at Piranha Bar featuring, Drink-182, Emborne Drive, We Were Sharks, By the Glory, and Harbour. There was little stylistic variation between any of the bands, but as a longtime fan of pop-punk, that was fine by me. In fact, one of my favourite things about the genre as a whole is its comforting, nostalgic predictability.
Drink-182 capitalized the most on nostalgia and predictability. A competent Blink-182 cover band, they stuck mostly to the band’s early career, reaching as far back as Cheshire Cat and only getting as close to the present as Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. They also included some goofy songs that Blink only performs live, displaying a knowledge of and love for the band that extends beyond that of the average, passive fan. Another more subtle nod to the band was their use of Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge’s signature bass and guitar models. While mostly tight and polished, they made some tempo change errors during “Josie,” which was disappointing on a personal level as it’s one of my favorite Blink songs and, in my opinion, one of the best loved songs the pop-punk genre has ever produced.
Emborne Drive is a band from the South Shore area of Montreal that I had seen once before at a Piranha Bar pop-punk show just like this one. By the Glory was on that bill as well, and I covered the show for a website called Bloody Underrated. I was much more impressed by Emborne Drive this time around. The skills and range of their lead singer Cameron Ramsey have improved, and the addition of a new member seems to have moved the band in a heavier direction. There’s a strong Wonder Years influence on their sound now, and the inclusion of a cover of a song by Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties, a Wonder Years side project, was an interesting choice that showcased their current interest in a darker and more diverse punk rock sound. Despite their energetic sound, the lead singer was the only member who really grabbed my attention; I would’ve liked to see more physical energy and enthusiasm from the rest of the band.
We Were Sharks played my favourite set of the night. Heavily influenced by Four Year Strong, their vibrant stage presence, delicate mix of pop-punk melodies, and hardcore influences made it feel like they were performing for a crowd of two hundred people rather than the twenty, at most, in attendance.
By the Glory‘s set was competent, but surprisingly not outstanding. Since I saw them last they’ve added a new guitar player, Romain Prugne, and his goofy charm matched with the occasional wicked scream makes him an exciting addition. His lead-guitar riffs stood out as something more technical and graceful than I’m used to hearing in pop-punk. The band is working on material for a new record, and I look forward to seeing how heavily his strengths, and possibly innovating influences, affect their sound.
Harbour closed the night, and at first seemed to drag the show out a little too much. As much as I love pop-punk, sometimes at shows like this the repetitive sound can be tiring once you’re five bands deep. Thankfully, Harbour infuses their version of pop-punk with technical playing more complicated than most bands of this kind. They also made prominent use of skillful vocal harmonies and vocal rounds that reminded me of Taking Back Sunday.
Overall it was a cool night, and I feel bad that so few people bothered to come out and witness the upbeat fun.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
Photography by Melissa Martella
*edited by Kate Erickson