To not have some battle scars is to never have lived

Sometimes I see an opening band and end up becoming just as obsessed (if not more) with them as I am/was with the headling band. Once was seeing You Me At Six open for The Academy Is…(and we ALL KNOW how much I love YMAS); and then it happened again when Paradise Fears opened for The Ready Set.

I’ve talked about PF before, when I saw them for the fifth time in August. Yesterday, I saw them again.

I like how boy-band-esque this picture is: Cole, Sam, Jordan, Marcus (standing), Lucas, and Michael.

The show was at the Hard Luck Bar. I have never been there before and – if Google Maps is to be believed – it technically doesn’t even exist. But I can tell you for a fact that it is a real place. It is also in the sketchiest part of Toronto known to man and I was so scared despite the fact that it was 5pm and still fairly bright outside.

The venue itself is small (probably about 200 people capacity) and has excellent acoustics which is probably why everyone and their brother announced acoustic shows there (I’ll be back there March 1 to see The Maine). Also of note: doors opened at exactly 6! Which was great, except they did a very thorough bag check which took a while to get through (as Ro said “could they have at least bought my purse a drink before violating it?”).

For their “Acoustic and In the Round” tour, Paradise Fears were specifically looking to play intimate venues and – rather than using the actual stage – had set themselves up in the middle of the room on an elevated platform so that they were playing in the middle of their audience.

Opening band, Sunderland, were pretty good: they had a similar vibe as Paradise Fears which made them a good fit. Plus Sam (PF’s lead singer) came bounding out for a guest verse on one of their songs!

PF came out around 7:40 and played straight until 9:20. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Sam Miller fangirl, but he is honestly is a charming frontman – in between songs, he joked with the crowd and explained that he was purposely trying to make eye contact with everyone and to please not look away even if it was creepy/awkward. Tons of audience interaction, including when they brought up a random fan to sing “Yours Truly”. Towards the end of the set, they played my favourite Battle Scars song, “Lullaby”, which is just as good acoustic as it is plugged-in:

If you’re sleeping alone tonight, let me be your lullaby.

They played a great mix of old and new songs, including a really new one that I don’t remember (though it’s possibly on the extended version of Battle Scars), plus a couple of covers: “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band, “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol (fans had to vote for a song at the merch table and this won with flying colours…much to my chagrin, since I was pushing for a PF original, “More Than Lust”) and “Photograph” by Nickleback which they referred to as the “Canadian National Anthem”. There was also a beautiful version of “Hallelujah” (featuring verses sung by Cole, Michael, and Jordan) which seamlessly segued into “Sanctuary” (cue the single tear rolling down almost everyone’s faces).

I mentioned this before: the Sanctuary speech – one of the defining moments of every PF show and made more poignant by the size of the room. At one point, Sam sort of leaned away from the mic and I imagine it was a proud moment for him to hear his words chanted back at him with just as much passion and enthusiasm as he usually shows.

After the show, the guys hung out – they called it a “gala” – meeting as many fans as possible. I’ve met Sam before, so this time I made sure to meet the other 5 before circling back to where he stood surrounded by fans. All 6 guys were pleasant and excited and you could see that connecting with fans is one of the things they love (unless they’re all exceptional actors).

I’m already looking forward to the next time they come to town.

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about:

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