I sometimes worry about the future of one of my favourite genres of music. Although ska is alive and well, the only bands that I find attract these sizeable audiences are ones that have been around since the 90s at the very least. That is until The Interrupters came along a few years ago. These guys are easily the frontrunners of the decade when it comes to cranking out fun, upbeat, ska-punk tunes, and I was more than stoked to catch them on their very first headlining tour when they played The Hard Luck with Bad Cop Bad Cop in Toronto.
Singer/songwriter Jennifer Fiorentino started things off, opening the night with just her voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a Cajon player. The Toronto musician had a charmingly awkward personality and a great voice. Despite the large crowd, Fiorentino did a solid job of keeping an intimate coffee shop setting to her half-hour set, playing a handful of originals, and a punk cover or two to win over whatever audience members she hadn’t. Her set was about as dynamic as the photos would suggest, but it was enjoyable nonetheless for people with an appreciation for stripped down, acoustically performed music. I finally put two and two together while writing this review and realized that I’m actually very familiar with Jenn’s YouTube channel. On top of that, I had no clue she is from my city, so that was my “holy shit, no way!” discovery of the week.
Orange County’s Bad Cop Bad Cop were up next, and within seconds of their set, they gave the crowd a solid idea of what they’re about. Pounding out song after song of fast, sloppy, three-chord punk rock with a positive attitude; a “freight train of fuck yeah,” as their guitarist so cheerfully described themselves. What made them stand out from your average local punk band had to have been their vocals. All three members at the front shared vocal duties and provided some awesome harmonies that fit behind the fast power chords almost in a Bad Religion sort of way, which helped fill up their sound. Despite some technical issues, they had a great set and proved that they could work an audience well between songs. A pit even broke out towards the end shortly after the Toronto crowd warmed up to the California punks.
The Interrupters closed out the night, and, believe me when I say that their live show is every bit as fun as their music would suggest. Their image is perfect, given the members that the band is made up of, and they have so much fun on stage, interacting with fans as much as they can between and during songs. They played a surprisingly lengthy set for a relatively new band, performing the better part of their existing catalogue. Surprisingly enough, guitarist Kevin Bivona took over frontman duties when the songs weren’t being played. He did a solid job addressing the crowd, and providing an appropriate sense of community between the band and the fans. They took a few requests, played a cover of Operation Ivy’s “Sound System,” (which the crowd went crazy for), and closed on their track “Family,” which, despite it being one of my least favourite songs by them, never fails to bring an audience together.
It was a great night full of unity via skank pits, crowd surfing, and good ol’ punk rock. Torontonians are always super appreciative when bands cross international borders just to play for them, so let’s hope The Interrupters can do it again before too long.
Written by Mathieu Perrier
Photography by Danielle Kenedy
*edited by Danielle Kenedy