The venue was packed AFuck! Of all the Metropolis shows I’ve attended, I couldn’t remember the last time the place was so populated during the first opening act. It’s a good thing people showed up early because Direct Hit! was fuckin’ lit and hot as shit! Their presence was vicious and their yelling was borderline frightening. The combination of the red lighting and Anti-Flag’s giant, upside down, U.S. flag (no surprise there) peeking out behind drummer Danny Walkowiak, made it feel like some kind of anarchistic, anti-governmental punk rally. The mood was dark though electric and highly energetic—it was understandable why these guys are touring with policy-hating Anti-Flag. Before quitting the stage, vocalist Nick Woods saluted us with a “Thank you, Montreal” which sounded dangerously close to “Fuck you, Montreal.” Did Direct Hit! tell us to fuck off?!? Probably.
Ballyhoo! started off their set by playing and dancing around to some pretty Kraft Dinner Extra Creamy cheese yet very catchy keyboard synth. This display definitely foreshadowed the mood for what was to follow throughout their set. I didn’t think their poppy Maroon 5-type performance was sitting too well with the crowd. They weren’t responding well to keyboardist Scott Vandrey’s crowd-engaging “hey hey heys” during their opener “Last Night.” As their set prevailed, however, the cheers at the end of their songs got progressively louder, so either the crowd was digging Ballyhoo! or this was simply the result of the travelling beer man doing a fantastic job. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much movement or showmanship coming from the frontman as much as there was from the keyboardist and bass player with his bowtie-high-bass. What has this world come to?! The audience was revved up, though, and after a few failed attempts Ballyhoo finally got the crowd to follow along in an Eminem-like side-to-side one-arm wave on their closing song.
By that point of the night if you were standing deep onto the floor you were staying there. We were so cramped it was like being in a tuna can (…right?). The crowd dynamics were so diverse. Some were dressed as Hawaiian surfers (Reel Big Fish fans) while others were dressed like they wanted to hurt me (Anti-Flag fans). RBF fans lightened the mood, however, by throwing around balloons as opposed to broken beer bottles. That is until Anti-Flag busted out onto the stage—the balloons popped and flying cans full of beer took their place. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Anti-Flag frontmen Justin Sane and Chris#2 tore up the stage, burning through Die for Your Government from cover to cover after of course giving their typical “brothers and sisters, take care of yourselves” speech. These guys are so hateful yet so loving and caring. Throughout their set, they would encourage mosh pits but also stress picking up anyone who fell down—like an anarchistic mother telling her son to play nice with his little brother: “you can fight, but NO uppercuts, okay?!!” From anti-Trump rants (duh) to saving the world together, these guys not only put on an explosive, scissor-kicking off the amps performance, but had so much influence on the crowd. This was definitely my first time ever seeing a band literally getting the entire audience on the floor to kneel down then charge back up into the air. Along with playing their kickass hits “Turncoat” and “Brandenburg Gate,” to top it off, they ended the show with their classic stunt of drummer Pat Thetic and Chris#2 performing inside the crowd.
The outspoken dark clouds of rebellion cleared up when Reel Big Fish frolicked onto the stage. They were so colourful and full of trombones, trumpets, and saxophones. It was as if Smash Mouth were cool and playing an indoor beach party infested with a bunch of sweaty, ripe punks. Also celebrating the 20th anniversary of one of their early day albums, RBF played Turn the Radio Off in its entirety, mashing up “Beer” with The Offspring’s “Self-Esteem,” and then, of course, closing their set with their hit cover of a-ha’s own hit “Take On Me.” Had RBF’s distributor not fucked up and sent out a thousand copies of the wrong album instead of the one being CELEBRATED that night, I may very well have purchased one of those gems–way to go, poop smeller! From the boys in the band running around in circles on stage to the whole audience dancing like goofs, the masses were in high spirits. Everyone on the main floor was moshing, dancing, and bumping into each other–no one was safe! RBF looked and sounded great. The fish didn’t fry in the kitchen that night, I tell you. They were just as hot as where the devil bangs his fat-ass wife.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy