I went to a hard core show. Yes, me. It was something else. I’ve been to a few before, but none of my previous ventures could have prepared me for the sights and sounds I witnessed at Le National on the 15th of September. Step through the looking glass with me, and I’ll regale you with a tale.
I got to the venue early, as the show was slated to start early; 6:30 PM to be precise. With five bands on the bill, I was happy with the early time. Kennedy was first up and hit the stage to bleeding guitar feedback from Luca Santilli. The feedback hit a pitch and the whole band launched into a slow, down trodden riff. The sound was immediately encompassing and ear splitting. Singer Matthew Savage used all the space provided by the stage, and even jumped into the empty pit for a good portion of their set, swinging his microphone around, narrowly missing folks. I was impressed with the way the band handled their sharp rhythm change-ups at breakneck speeds. I wasn’t a fan of guitarist Felix Legaults backing vocals, however, c’est la vie. They still put on a helluva show.
Next up was Gideon. These cats got the crowd rocking and moshing like pros. Their brand of metal consisted of some nasty, funky, disgusting breakdowns. I loved watching guitarist Tyler Riley chug his way through his guitar picks. The intensity with which he was shredding was unreal. The crowd matched it. I watched them all kung-fu their way across the open area of the pit, punching and kicking each other with determination. Singer Daniel McWhorter stalked across the stage like a serpent, slipping from foot to foot as he advanced toward the crowd. The band kept up a heart thudding volume their whole set, constantly crushing any hope of reprieve. Once again, the back vocals appeared to be a problem. Not because I didn’t enjoy Riley’s work, but rather because his mic was too low for the majority of his set. It’s a shame because the dude had some chops.
The following act was Winnipeg natives, Comeback Kid. I saw these cats sometime before 2010 when they were on tour with Madball and A Wilhelm Scream, and they have not lost a step. Between the flashing lights and eye grabbing movements of the band, I couldn’t help but be blinded by what I saw. They hammered through song after song, hyping the crowd up to near nuclear levels. The ninjas loved every minute of it, and around this time it began to get dangerous to be up front. I’m all for good moshing, but when someone nonchalantly cartwheels into a group of people, and kicks one of them in the face, shit starts to get out of hand. I saw scissor kicks that thumped into people’s thighs, large humans diving off the stage into tiny pockets of people again and again, and one poor kid suffered what I assume was a broken nose due to an errant limb. Shit got ultra violent at light speed. It’s hard to focus on the band when most of your energy is spent keeping your guard up against flying fists.
COUNTERPARTS were part number four. Their set felt like a high rolling train pumping through my veins. I was further back for their set, and was thus able to hear the true genius of drummer Kyle Brownlee as he manipulated his kick and toms with monstrous force. I was in the best spot (behind the sound guy) to truly appreciate the propulsion of Brendan Murphy’s vocals.
Lastly, Stray From The Path hit the stage. They opened their set with “Opening Move,” and it was mesmerizing to hear Craig Reynolds manhandle the high hat and snare during the opening stanza. There was not a single person standing still while they listened. There were no silent voices when they launched into “Goodnight Alt-Right.” The whole crowd screamed in unison, “You just got knocked the fuck out!” which sent chills up my spine. My favourite part of their set was the guitar work of Tom Williams during their encore, “Only Death Is Real.” A subtle approach behind the hardcore, and I thought he pulled it off very well during a live show.
What did you think of the show? Hit me up in the comments below as to who your favorite act was! I know which one made me giddy.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Stacy Basque
*edited by Lia Davis