Mini Show Reviews: May 2016

Since I’ve been to a couple (well, three) shows in the past week-and-a-half, I decided to write mini reviews rather than dedicate a full post to each one.

Pearl Jam – May 12


My sister and I bought these tickets for our dad (who really only goes to shows if one/both of us is with him) since he’s been listening to Pearl Jam for years. I have to admit that I only knew a handful of songs on the setlist, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time – you gotta love some nineties grunge/alternative. A personal highlight for me was “Daughter“, which I like warbling at my dad, and when they surprisingly played “Last Kiss” (if you ever want to feel sad, listen to that song). For a bunch of “old” dudes (the band has been around literally as long as I’ve been alive), they had a lot of energy and played for over two hours straight with maybe a five minute break before the encore. My dad also loves that Eddie Vedder swigs from a bottle of wine while on stage, but miraculously is still coherent (well, mostly – we had a hard time understanding him, but it could have been our nosebleed seats). They’re also some pretty stand-up guys: they mentioned a couple of benefits they’re working with, not to mention the fact that some of the proceeds from their show were going to Alberta to help for the Fort McMurray fires.

Enter Shikari – May 19


Admittedly, one of the reasons I was stoked for this show was the opening band – those wonderful Australian chaps, Hands Like Houses – but Enter Shikari were brilliant as well.

HLH’s set was short but tight, and I can only imagine how insane their headlining shows are. They’re so full of energy and the setlist – mostly tracks from their recent album, Dissonants, including the epic “I Am” – flows together really well.

I also found myself really getting into ES this time around. One thing I like about them is the combination of some of my favourite musical elements: a sick beat and some unclean vocals. They didn’t stop to chat too much (though there was one hilarious moment involving a crowd-surfer who lost his shoe), but powered their way through their set, playing some tracks off of The Mindsweep such as “Anaesthetist” and older tunes including “Solidarity“, plus their new single, “Redshift“. The crowds are always so wild during an ES show, so I tend to sit on the balcony if I can manage it, but I do think it’s about time for them to be ungraded to a bigger venue (it was hot as balls in the club because of all the people).

P.S. You can read my interview with front-man Rou Reynolds for idobi radio here!

The 1975 – May 201975This was our fourth time seeing these English gents, first time since they released their second album, and the show was, of course, amazing. Matty’s gotten a bit chattier since that first time they played in Canada, but they genuinely seemed to be having fun. Their drummer had been injured about a week or so ago, so they had a replacement – but you could barely tell he wasn’t an original member because they sounded so put-together. It’s also wonderful to see the way they’ve grown as a band, both in terms of their sound and the tightness of their set, but also their popularity: they went from playing to 600 people in 2013 to 5000 people in 2016, which is pretty impressive. Of course I loved the older songs – “Chocolate”, “Robbers”, and “Sex”, in particular – but the new songs were also beautiful – especially my faves off the album, “A Change of Heart“, and “UGH!“. They also paid a mini tribute to their original fans with “Fallingforyou“, a song off of one of their first EPs.

If you get a chance to see The 1975 live, do it! They’re completely worth the money (and the hype)!

Fetch the anaesthetist

Last Wednesday, we saw Enter Shikari and it was extra special because, for the first time in our nearly 13 year long friendship, my friend Sylvia joined us for a concert! (I don’t know how we haven’t gone to a show together before).

We took our time going in because the Mod Club is notorious for not opening doors when they say they’re going to open doors. And yet we still managed to walk in in time to see the first band – I the Mighty. They had the potential to be a band that I would enjoy (screaming, oddly danceable), but you know what I don’t enjoy? Being told what to do. In general, but also by the opening bands who yell at the crowd to be “livelier”.

I understand that it’s hard to perform when your audience looks bored, but as one of three opening bands, how many people do you think are there specifically to see you? Don’t waste your already limited stage time bossing me around, just play your songs and I’ll respect you.

The next band was A Lot Like Birds. More like “a lot like noise”, am I right?

I don’t usually like trash-talking bands. It takes a lot of work to put yourself out there in front of people and make music and heaven knows I’m neither talented nor courageous enough to try it myself…but these guys were not my cup of tea. I’ve found that, if I wasn’t previously familiar with their music, metal bands tend to sound chaotic. Most of the time, though, it’s organized chaos; you can start to pick out words or chords that make you nod your head and think, “yeah, I could maybe get behind this”.

But throughout their entire set, I felt just like the Dowager Countess of Grantham the first time she heard a jazz band:

“Do you think that any of them know what the others are playing?”

If you would like to hear them for yourself:

The next band was Stray From the Path. We actually saw them in September when they opened for Architects, and since Ro and I almost fell asleep during their set that time, we honestly couldn’t remember what they sounded like.

This is what they sound like:

They were your standard openers; they hyped the crowd up, barreled through their songs, and even threw in a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”. They weren’t too bad this time around; maybe I was more awake than the last time I saw them.

Finally, Enter Shikari…entered.

I’m not a hardcore fan; I know the words to maybe five songs. But ES is the most random assortment of genres, and it’s kinda hard not to find them catchy. This is how they’re described on Wikipedia:

…post-hardcore, electronicore (which they are considered to have pioneered),  alternative rock and experimental metal, fusing elements of various rock subgenres, such as punk rock, metalcore and hardcore punk, with elements of various electronic music genres, including drum and bass, dubstep, electronica, trance and industrial.

Basically, they’re a little bit of everything. And oddly, it works. You wouldn’t think they’d make sense with that many musical elements, but somehow it all blends together and you end up with amazing songs like “Sssnakepit” which was the first Enter Shikari song I ever heard and was also their show closer.

Some other highlights included “Anaesthetist” which is a song that I actually know the words to, and Sylvia’s favourite song, “Solidarity”.

Doctor…fetch the anaesthetist…

And now the flood gates will open

The band was full of energy and the crowd was super pumped, which is always a nice feeling. The one issue we had was the fact that the band tended to pause between songs to adjust their mics or move around the stage/lope through the crowd to stand on top of the bar. Yes, standing on top of the bar was cool (we were on the balcony so we had an awesome view), but it also meant that they had to stop playing music for a couple of minutes. Which is fine every so often, but there were moments where they could have literally fit an entire other song into the set, but chose to wander around aimlessly for a while instead.

There was also a speech hating on One Direction which, while funny (I don’t actually mind 1D, but most of the crowd agreed with Rou), ate up part of their post-encore stage time. And by that point, it was almost 11pm and I was all “I have to go to sleep”, so I wouldn’t have minded if they had just launched right into their songs.

But, downtime aside, they put on an excellent show and I would recommend seeing them if you’re in the mood to thrash around a room.