There is a universal truth concerning smaller rock shows, which is that they will never start on time. If the event says that the show will start at 9pm, chances are it will actually be starting at 10pm, earliest. On Friday, I waited at the TRH-Bar for almost three hours to see these four bands play! I was told that it was all due to some behind the scenes bickering amongst bands about who should play first. Sorry, but I smell 100%, grade-A bullshit. There was no one there! Even after three hours, the venue was practically empty. If there was bickering, it was because no one wanted to pour their hearts out to a crowd that was more populated by stools than actual people. As you will read on, my main problem with this show was everything else besides the bands.
Thankfully, one band stepped up to end the monotony, and that was Summerled. They were supposed to go on last, but instead went on first. This easygoing attitude reflects both who they are as people and as performers. Led by charismatic, guitar-wielding front men Keenan Kerr and Pat Bernard, and anchored beautifully by drummer Jon Erskine, Summerled are a throwback to early 2000s pop-punk bands like Blink-182 and Sum-41. Their energetic, fun-loving performances are particularly contagious, although once again this would have been amplified by the presence of more people. Still, these guys played their asses off! I have seen them play two or three times already, and they have really become killer musicians and performers. Their hooks are bigger, their chemistry tighter, and their tongue-in-cheek attitude is even more evident.
Next up was Superlative, another band that was supposed to start later, thus making this line-up a rather disjointed and confusing one. Superlative were somewhat destroyed by the sound mixing. The bass was a bit too low, and singer Charles Lapointe was having a horrible time being heard. You know it’s bad when he had to block his left ear just so he could sing over his band. The worst part is that when I got home, I checked out their recordings and was blown away by how amazing his voice is! Despite such a mediocre environment, the band pushed through just the same with unbelievable tightness, with an alternative style reminiscent of The Mars Volta meets The Used that actually seemed to attract a fair amount of people to the stage.
Poor The Brieface though. They easily had the least amount of people during their set. I am not pointing fingers, but isn’t it the job of the show’s promoter to take care of that? This is all too bad, because they were quite good! I have a feeling that they are still a young band, because they seemed a little greener on stage than the rest of the acts. That said, they had quite a lot going for them. I loved how enthusiastic and on the money drummer Anthony Farina was, and they managed to really capture the spirit of classic punk bands like Black Flag, The Descendents and The Sex Pistols. Speaking of The Sex Pistols, they do a gloriously snotty cover of “Holiday in the Sun” that deserves to be heard. I hope they keep at it, because they have a lot of potential; all they need is a good crowd to feed off of.
By the time Ignition Riot came to the stage, I was feeling claustrophobic and exhausted. Five and a half hours in one place will certainly do that to a person! Even though I wanted to fall asleep, I have to say that Ignition Riot were my favourite act of the night. Sure, they sound like Nirvana, Sleater-Kinney, and a demented version of any surf band from the early 60s, but they make it their own. All the bands on Friday possessed this ability, but the difference for these guys is that they inject a greater air of excitement, vitality, and unpredictability into it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they became one of those bands that truly matter. They are certainly mesmerizing enough to deserve such a title. Drummer Kat Cordos’s octopus-like fills, Chris Poirier’s appropriately apathetic vocal styling, and Stephanie Lemieux’s agonizing howls sure as hell kept me on my feet, when really I felt like lying down and never getting back up.
When all is said and done, I was impressed by what these bands were able to accomplish. It seemed that everything that night was trying to prevent them from putting on an excellent show, but not one of them faltered. They all stood their ground. Shows like Friday night can make or break the best of bands. Here’s hoping that they keep doing what they’re doing, empty crowds and flawed sound mixing be damned!
Written by Shawn Thicke
*edited by Kate Erickson