It was with the fresh start mentality of the new year ahead of me that I ventured into Club Soda on a Thursday night to catch three bands that I had never seen live before. With one preliminary glance at the crowd gathered outside the venue, you could tell this was an emo show, few scenes wear their regalia more proudly.
The original bill had a fourth band scheduled to open, but Belmont was unfortunately not able to make it due to poor weather conditions and border issues. My 2019 shows were off to a sputtering start much like the entire year itself, as I zeroed in on a seat to kill two hours mostly by creeping you all on social media. There was quite a hype surrounding Belmont and so I was a little bummed out that they didn’t perform… they’ll be back in Montreal later this year.
So, by default Silent Planet officially opened the show right around 8:40 pm. The five-piece from Los Angeles, California took to delivering a brand of metalcore that fluctuated between extreme aggression and atmospheric forays. For a set that lasted only thirty minutes, I feel like lead vocalist Garrett Russell laid a bit too much into getting his multiple messages across between songs, causing the set to never gain a true momentum. While I understand that this may well be the bands MO, a thirty-minute set doesn’t give much breathing room, especially when fans have anxiously been waiting almost two hours for music. That said, the songs themselves seemed to get better as the set went on, and Silent Planet truly peaked with their last three numbers, “Panic Room” separating itself even further as a true highlight in the set. I’d love to see what Silent Planet could do with a longer set time/bigger slot.
Jersey-based Senses Fail filled out the meaty middle of the metalcore sandwich, though clearly the least metalcore of the three acts. Theirs is a more post-hardcore/emo disposition, but enough of genre talk! Opening song “Can’t Be Saved” off 2006’s Still Searching had the crowd in an uproar and foreshadowed what was to be a varied set spanning the bands fifteen plus years. Though the set was mired with poor sound and an inability to find a nice eq on the vocals, frontman James Nielson did an admirable job keeping the energy level on a consistent high. His antics, including cartwheels, mic twirls, and those forever satisfying high kicks saved the night from being a mediocre snooze fest. Though no amount of cartwheels will get you off the hook for shitty sound… Choosing to end the set on a nu-metal was also an odd move, though they did an admirable job of whipping through a few of the classics from a genre that I’ll always hold dear to my heart, fucking “Bulls on Parade!” god bless you Senses Fail.
Australia’s the Amity Affliction closed out the soiree and the sound issues continued to plague us all! Just a combination of choppy mic levels and a way to casual stage presence, had the set flowing in mediocrity. Also, after Nielson’s inspired stage presence frontman Joel Birch seemed to be phoning it in in comparison. Not that the set didn’t have some killer moments, “Ivy (Doomsday)” hit the pleasure zones early on, as did “Feels Like I’m Dying” towards the middle of the set. The Amity Affliction put a premium on songs from the latest album Misery, which is always nice to see, even more so because they seemed to get the biggest reaction out of the crowd.
Although the show may not have had much to offer the casual fan, the metalcore and emo lifers were clearly having a time. The turnout was more than respectable, the crowd vibes were electric. And for whatever reason, even if it’s not my favourite show of all time or a band I absolutely adore, I never have a bad time at Club Soda! It’s quaint, it has character, there’s just something in the air when you step past that marquee on St Laurent and see a line of beautiful people turning down ste Catherine.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Chris Carpenter
*edited by Danielle Kenedy