Who doesn’t love a free show? Oftentimes, ticket prices can be a deal breaker for a concert. But Grosse Soirée doesn’t want your financial limitations to stop you from seeing big local acts or new up-and-coming talent. On Wednesday, May 8th, Club Soda opened up its doors, free of charge, to anyone with an interest in hardcore, from casual admirers to keepers of the faith.
The room was already packed when the first act, Sudden Waves, came onstage. The band has only existed for about a year, but they’ve been making waves (get it?) and have already played a handful of big stage shows around Quebec. Their music mixes fierceness and tenderness, with hard-hitting verses and melodic choruses. As the band jumped around onstage, who did I see sneaking around behind the amps but our very own Jean David Lafontant, filming their every move. Sudden Waves played songs fresh off their new EP All We Have Is Now. “1oak” pulled me in, with its ambient intro building to an emotional climax. Maxime Lacroix from Blind Witness made a surprise appearance, switching places with guitarist Dave Tremblay for the second to last song.
Being too close to the stage, I knew I was in the danger zone. Harriers were coming up next, and it was only a matter of time before someone would come at me with swinging fists. I’ve lost enough teeth getting knocked around the pit in the past. It’s a good thing I got out of the way when I did, because fans were already practicing their karate kicks before the first note was played. You can’t really blame their enthusiasm; it has been almost two years since Harriers last played in their hometown. Guitarists Chris Riopel and Eric Langlois-Gervais blend elements of thrash into the hardcore, while singer Bine Robusto never gave into melody. The pure aggression of their sound pairs perfectly with punching unsuspecting bystanders, and their breakdowns provide a predictable beat to two-step to. But it’s not all about violence. The band advertised that all the money they made from merch sales would be donated to Marie-Vincent Foundation, who help young survivors of sexual abuse.
Enthusiasm remained high when Boundaries took to the stage. Security occupied either side of the stage to discourage stage diving, but weren’t fast enough to stop any divers. Singer Maxime Maltais encouraged the audience: “Approchez-vous! Tout le monde bouge!” A few weeks ago, the Quebec City five-piece dropped their newest album Turning Point, and it was clear that many in the room had been listening to it on repeat since then. Those in the front row grabbed at Maltois’ microphone, crawling on top of each other, desperate to shout along. Closing with “Worth the Ride,” the audience, from the front to the back, echoed the words, “If you listen up close then I will tell you what’s what,” collectively jumping as the rest of the band kicked in.
Probably the only reason I went to this show was to see Sharptooth from Baltimore, MD play Montreal for the first time. Seeing them was a breath of fresh air after the bro fest I had experienced up to that point. Lauren Kashan captivated the room, channeling her inner velociraptor through her monstrous growls.
Sharptooth is very outspoken on matters of injustice. Between songs, Kashan ranted about mental illness stigma, sexual assault, and everyone’s favourite fascist, Donald Trump. “If you don’t think music should be ‘political,’” Kashan stated, “then maybe heavy music isn’t for you!” Before launching into their last song “Clever Girl,” Kashan surveyed the crowd, shouting “Where my girls at?” Leading into the final breakdown, she joined the rest of us on the ground. With one foot propped up on the head of a crouched mosher, she screamed the last lines, “Dead men tell no tales. Dead men talk no shit.”
I personally don’t understand the appeal of Obey the Brave. They might have attracted a few ears because vocalist Alex Erian was also in Despised Icon. Although Erian does go guttural on parts, the hooks are way too poppy for my taste, especially in their newest single “No Apologies.” But I was clearly in the minority, outnumbered by the hundreds of fans singing along to every word.
Trap beats played in the background to fill the silence between songs. At one point, guitarist Terrence McAuley admitted to breaking his hand that morning, but I don’t think anyone would have noticed or cared if his playing was slightly off. The one nice thing I can say about Obey the Brave is that they have power in their vocal delivery when all four members shout into the mic.
Written By Chris Aitkens
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Kate Erickson