I’m allergic to clichés, but the overused “meteoric rise” describing rapid success perfectly applies to The Interrupters. In recent memory, the So-Cal ska-pop five-piece has played MTelus, Club Soda (twice), and ’77. Each one, up to the packed MTelus show, has been bigger than the last. Lead singer Aimee Interrupter even said it was their largest headlining show to date. What’s next? Bell Center, Jazz Fest…Belle et Bum? I’m kidding, they aren’t big enough for Belle et Bum.
While checking into MTelus for the latest episode of The Interrupters show I was expecting a lively crowd, but this was big. Really big. The venue was already rammed at 7:30 when Sharp Shock kicked off the show. As usual, I headed to the balcony to find a seat, but none were available, even at 7:30! Standing room only. But, what a polite crowd! At packed shows people normally spill beer everywhere, the cues are long, the bathrooms are toxic, and there’s an overwhelming body odour. Not here.
Sharp Shock opened with a brief set of Ramones-esqe punk rock. The show included a cover of “Pet Cemetery,” one of my favourite Ramones tracks. I hoped for a more energetic version, but since the Ramones also wrote “I Wanna Be Sedated,” this dreamy version was appropriate. The last song “Troublemaker” was from Sharp Shock’s debut album Unlearn Everything.
London’s Skinny Lister came on next with energetic and fast folk-punk and a hybrid Celtic sound that reminded me of Spirit of the West. Led by singer Lorna Thomas in a cool blue jumpsuit, the band played a lively folk sound that also borrowed heavily from The Clash, especially London Calling. The classic UK punk sounds rang through on “38 Minutes” and “Trouble on Oxford Street.” According to the band, “38 Minutes,” from the album The Story Is…, was inspired by a missile warning.
But the only explosion was the punk rock, and the only alarm was for the fire burning on stage. The British six-piece whipped the crowd into a frenzy, furiously playing acoustic instruments like accordion, guitar, and double bass. By the end of the set the venue had turned to an old-time pub atmosphere, and the band led the audience in rowdy sing-along versions of sea shanties.
Although it was a Sunday night, singer Daniel Heptinstall said it felt “like the middle of the weekend, so there’s no excuse but to party!” During the intermission outside I overheard someone say, “that was fucking great…very Irish!” It’s true, it did feel like a drunken sloppy Saturday night in Dublin. What fun!
After a long break, while the crowd clapped in unison to urge the headliners on, the lights went down and “Ghost Town” by The Specials came on. The reggae skank and sexy horns signalled the show was about to begin. This was my third time reviewing The Interrupters and I’m always shocked at the passion of their fans. As the last show of the Canadian tour, the energy in the building was palpable. But, what else would you expect with a Montreal crowd?
From “A Friend Like Me” to the anthem “Take Back the Power,” the band blasted through the set with poise and professionalism. Aimee charmed the people and her smile shined up to the balcony. She came down to the floor to be with her fans and high-fived tattooed punks like they were family. She even hugged the shy bouncers working crowd control. Now that’s class!
Written by Rob Coles
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito