Montreal has Pouzza FEST, Toronto has NXNE, and thanks to the hard work of Coady Pelka, Barrie has North by North North. Granted, much smaller than the mentioned festivals, it’s noteworthy none the less. This two-day festival had performances by a ton of great acts. Friday night saw Montreal’s Riot Porn tear it up at the DIY Arts Collective. Saturday afternoon the DIY hosted Bottle Kids among others. But Saturday night at the Foxx was the ‘all in’ show. Coady supported Dig It Up, Brutal Youth, Teenage Kicks, and The Flatliners with his band Stigmachine.
We arrived at the Foxx just in time to wish the Stigmachine boys a good set before the ripped it. The Wolf of Wall Street was playing on the big screen, a far cry from the usual B&W horror flicks. It was a weird addition to the atmosphere; having a massive nose snorting coke through a five foot tall rolled up bill, in the background of a punk show. But I digress. Having seen Stigmachine first about a year ago, it’s amazing how far they have come. Their politically-charged, melodic hardcore style could hold a candle to Propaghandi. Bassist Nate was fun to watch as his fingers crawled up the fretboard like spiders and lunged his wiry legs. They killed it and although playing first rarely garners much crowd movement, they had our attention.
Next was Dig It Up, some might say they played too early in the night but with a line up this good it would be a tough call. My attraction to this band, other than their catchy but heavy style, is vocalist Mike’s stage presence and facial expressions when he performs. I often find myself mesmerized by Andrea’s drumming; her fills and rolls are top notch. They opened the set with “Missing People”and played songs from Manners primarily. At one point Mike said, “We’re just here to play songs with friends, if you’re not here for songs and friends…I don’t know.” Their raucous set got the pit moving and we saw our first of many accidental bottle smashings of the evening. I’m only going to say this once, concert venues should serve cans.
Brutal Youth took the stage next and pummelled the crowd with their pop-punk hardcore set of minute to three minute long ragers. Like Dig It Up, I have always been impressed with singer Pat’s performance on stage. The way he hits his head with the microphone, wearing a Weird Al cut off tee, at one point he grabbed a glass of water and instead of taking a sip, he hit the side of his head with it (I should point out it was a plastic glass.) Not to take away from the rest of the band, who are fantastic musicians, they stayed fun and original while playing nearly twenty songs a set.
Up next, Toronto’s Teenage Kicks. These guys are definitely more laid back than the rest of the acts but it did give us old farts a nice break from fending off moshers. Rather than a punk band, these guys are rock and roll with a Canadian flare, Canadiana if you will. Although apologetic for losing his voice, singer/guitarist Pete ripped it. Halfway through the set, he thanked Chris (of the Flats) for the Fisherman’s Friend lozenges, a singer’s secret weapon. This being the first time this writer has seen TK, I was impressed with their use of guitar effects, and even more excited when they closed with their cover of “Helter Skelter.”
Which brings us to The Flatliners, their first time in Barrie in over two years. Although Chris was fighting a throat bug he sang well, kudos for stepping it up. They played everybody’s favourites, new and old, like “Casket’s Full” and “There’s a Problem,” the crowd filling in the vocals. The whole set was awesome, including The Tragically Hip’s, “Ahead by a Century.”
The crowd, although your usual rowdy gang of moshing kids that tend to buzz around Flats shows, were helpful lifting up dropped surfers and making sure the smaller girls didn’t get destroyed. But just one thing to keep in mind; dresses in the mosh pit, okay, but not for crowd surfing, thanks.
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple