With Toronto at the apex of Pan-Am Games, there was no shortage of special events in the Big Smoke. Wyclef Jean and Serena Ryder were performing to a crowd at Nathan Phillips Square, while gladiatorial deviations were in progress in various corners of our fair city, but true music fans from across southern Ontario flocked to the Hard Luck. This draw was for hometown boys, Hounds, who, with Montreal’s Barrasso, supported Crusades as they rocked the Hard Luck Bar in Toronto.
Barrasso opened the night, their heavy driving riffs and aggressively melodic vocals drew the listeners to the stage. The power behind their sounds came from the three guitars hammering harmonies. Lyrically the vocals were lost on some of us unilingual Neanderthals, but the raspy melodies added to the music. Though the crowd may have been sparse, Barrasso impressed and the night was just getting warmed up. As a first time listener, I would recommend checking them out; I can not wait to see them again.
The dirty hometown dogs came howling onto the stage next. Hounds tore into “Saps” first and blasted through their entire debut release, Wild Eyes. Those familiar with their EP were surprised to hear a new song, “Meat Market.” The hounds of Toronto rounded out their set with “Syncope” and “Sermons.”
If you have not heard of Hounds, it might be because they are a relatively new act but as individual musicians they are far from new to the scene. Vocalist Mike Rokos’ familiar roar can be heard fronting Dig It Up, while bassist, Brad Bentley, was a member of Rad Affair. Pat Mathers was a guitarist for Hostage Life and, more recently, The Victim Party, while drummer, Paul Ramirez, has been drumming for the Flatliners for over a decade. Despite the fact that lines of similarity can be drawn between all of their projects, Hounds have a sound all their own and are a great addition to the thriving array of young southern Ontario-based punk bands. Scott ‘Scoeb’ Middleton of the Cancer Bats produced their debut EP and, although it is not available on vinyl yet, it sounds great on cassette tape.
There could not have been a better way to close the night than Ottawa-based band, Crusades. Another act built off an accumulation of other bands including the Creeps, Buried Inside, the Sedatives, as well as many other Ottawa bands. Their style is melodic punk bordering on metal. The heavy sound is powered by the sharing of vocal duties between all members, most noticeably by guitarists, Emmanuel Sayer and Dave Williams, and bassist, Skottie Lobotomy.
It is a rare treat for Toronto to see such a stacked lineup. Anyone who was not there missed out on a great show, and better have a damn good excuse as to why. I was more than happy to see Barrasso, and Hounds for the first time. Crusades, as always, blew this writer away.
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple
*edited by Danielle Kenedy