Contrary to the night before (and in a fashion much more common to Montreal’s Olympia theatre) the line was huge to get in to catch Streetlight Manifesto perform their first album in its entirety in celebration of its fifteen-year release anniversary. Of course, the punks in question who were stuck waiting didn’t really seem to mind all that much, as they spent the time ingesting street beers and various other substances.
Because of the huge lineup and the molasses like speed with which people were being allowed entry into the venue, most people missed some or all of New York natives Mephiskapheles’ set, which is too bad because they’re really cool. Though their sound relies heavily on distorted guitar and traditional punk/ska, they also work in elements of Latin music, Caribbean music, and even heavy metal. Front man Andre Worrall wore white spikey earrings and commanded the stage with a voice that would probably make Satan himself terrified. Which might have come in handy at some point, if the story of the new song they played for us titled “Satan Stole my Weed” is to be believed at all. For the majority of the set, the band were awash in dark green light in front of their pentagram-shaped logo, which only added more mystique to their overall vibe.
The first big cheer happened even before Streetlight Manifesto took the stage; it happened when their backdrop was lifted. It was, of course, the cover art for Everything Goes Numb. About ten minutes later, the lights went out and the decidedly non-ska sound of Slayer’s “Raining Blood” began blaring from the house speakers. It was to this soundtrack that Streetlight walked onto the stage. Of course, the metal didn’t last, and before long the crowd as jumping and dancing along as the band ripped through “Everything Goes Numb.” They played the rest of the album more or less note perfect, with the exception of “Point/Counterpoint.” For this one, they worked in a fiery medley of the title track from their record Keasbey Nights. While this did highlight just how similar both of these songs really are, it was also a nice nod to the diehard fans in the crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, these guys were as lively as I’ve ever seen. The pulsating wave of the mosh pit seemingly never seceded, and if anything it only grew with each subsequent track. The seizure inducing lights couldn’t even keep up with the members of the band on the stage (and with four horn players as well as the usual rock and roll lineup of guitar, bass and drums, this is not a small band) let alone deter members of the crowd from rushing it. By the time they hit the slow moment that is “A Moment of Silence,” it was as if every single person in the entire venue was moving as one.
They weren’t content with just playing the record’s track list and leaving either, as they also hit us with an encore that included a cover of Catch 22’s “Dear Sergio.” (Ska fans, eat your heart out.) Considering the announcement of this very show ended up getting Streetlight Manifesto kicked off of Rockfest earlier this year, the evening couldn’t have gone any better.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy