Mini Show Reviews: October 2016

Bastille – October 5

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I’ve seen Bastille twice before this (and have tickets to see them next March) and they never fail to put on a fun show. While their most recent album Wild World is fairly mellow, they’re so full of energy on stage. Singer Dan Smith was especially impressive this time – they’d cancelled their New York show the night before ours because he strained his voice, but he was still able to perform for us, hitting all the high notes with minimal effort. The first 3/4’s of the show was basically their album (minus a handful of songs), including “Send Them Off!” and “The Currents” (both of which I really like) and it was cool to hear because it gave me a better appreciation for their new material. Of course, my favourite part was when they broke into their last three songs,pulled from their debut album, Bad Blood, including my fave “Pompeii“.


This Wild Life – October 8

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I’ve seen This Wild Life before (briefly at Warped 2015 and then opening for Mayday Parade), and, while their songs (which are mostly acoustic) can be very mellow, they put on a really fun show. Lots of energy and sing-a-longs, and the band members seem like genuinely nice dudes (we saw them hanging out outside the venue before their set). Opening bands Movements and Have Mercy were pop punk-y fun (I realized belatedly that I actually know a Have Mercy song, “Two Years“). This Wild Life’s set was just over an hour long, during which they performed some of the new songs from their recent album, Low Tides (such as “Hit the Reset“), as well as fan favourites from previous releases like “Pink Tie” and “Concrete” (which is really good live). My sister compared them to an acoustic version of twenty one pilots, which is accurate, and I hope more people start paying attention to them.


Sum 41 – October 18

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Even though I JUST saw Sum 41 at Warped this summer, I was still pretty excited to see them headline. Opening band As It Is was as energetic as ever (I still can’t take Patty Walters and his constant tongue-sticking-out move seriously, but they were fun), and Senses Fail was also pretty good (their songs tend to blend together for me, but that’s just because I’m waiting impatiently for “Can’t Be Saved“). Sum 41 burst onto the stage and played for about an hour and forty minutes (longer than I expected), with a set that was a nice mix of new songs from their recent album, 13 Voices and “classics” from their 15+ years as a band (“Motivation“; the heart-breaking “Pieces“, which I forgot about but still love; opening with “The Hell Song“). Deryck Whibley has a surprising amount of stage presence which I didn’t really feel at Warped, probably because the stage was so far away, but in a sweaty venue, it was exactly what you want in a punk show. Obviously the highlight was “Fat Lip” (which they closed with) because MAN, that’s such a good song!


The Wonder Years – October 24

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Our last show of the month was super pop-punk – just the way I like it. Seaway opened the show, and, even though I just saw them at the end of July, they were still very entertaining. I had been looking forward to Knuckle Puck’s set, but, unfortunately, they couldn’t make it across the border after getting into a fender bender (with a DEER)…instead, I put all my energy into jamming the heck out to Moose Blood (they played my two favourite songs – “Gum” and “Knuckles” – back-to-back, which means I almost died). I don’t know what it is about RealFriends, but I just can’t get into them (I’ve tried like 4 times), so I didn’t really pay attention to their set.

The Wonder Years is the type of band that I forget I enjoy until I randomly hear a song or catch them live. They have such great lyrics – my fave off their recent album, No Closer to Home, is “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then” – and, especially now that I’m 26, I love screaming along to “Passing Through a Screen Door”. They put on a solid performance (not every band can get away with starting a set with an acoustic song), and their encore of “Came Out Swinging” was everything a pop-punk fan could want.

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Mini Show Reviews: August 2016

Warped Tour Chicago – July 23
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Even though Warped didn’t make a Toronto stop this year, I was in Chicago for their date and I truly feel like I finally experienced Warped the way it’s meant to be experienced. There were no delays from bands struggling to cross the border; all the merch was available instead of stuck in transit; and it was so hot, I broke into a sweat just by sitting still (rather than being rained on, which happens every year). We started the day with Young Guns (highly recommend) just after noon and ended the night around 7:30pm with Sum 41 (Canadians represent!) who drew a huge crowd. In between, we saw about a dozen bands total (including partial sets from bands we happened to be passing or who we caught while waiting for the next band), but the highlight for us was The Maine who ALWAYS puts on a stellar show. I’m so glad we got a chance to hit up Warped this year – the summer just isn’t the same without a day at pop punk camp!


Seaway – July 29
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I’ve seen Seaway a couple of times before, but this was their first headlining tour (and they sold out their final date in Toronto!). They’re pure pop punk and I love it: nothing like thrashing around to bangers like “Freak” or “Your Best Friend” on a Friday night. I missed the first two opening bands because I was eating dinner (sidenote: people rave about Sneaky Dee’s but I was quite unimpressed – their nachos weren’t as good as other people would have me believe), but Coldfront was decent. I like how Canadian this tour was!


Nothing But Thieves – August 2
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For something completely non-Canadian, we saw Nothing But Thieves play their first Toronto show ever at the Velvet Underground (I’ve never been there, so that was cool). Opening band Weathers was really good – catchy and decent performers – and the second band, The Unlikely Candidates, were okay, but the singer was greasy in an unpleasant way and it coloured my ability to enjoy them (you know in books when people go to shows and the band is made up of really sleazy dudes? That was this guy). Nothing But Thieves, however, was phenomenal. His voice is so impressive (and very Matt Bellamy) on the album and live he’s even more powerful – check out “Excuse Me” for an example of his range. The highlights, of course, were “Wake Up Call” and “Trip Switch“, but the whole thing was well done and I’d 100% see them again.


blink 182 – August 21
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I’ve always wanted to see blink-182 live, and I finally got my chance on the 21st. I was all sorts of stoked when I originally found out that All Time Low was opening for them, and I definitely lost my voice during their set – they played “Six Feet Under the Stars” (the song that made me an ATL fan) which I wasn’t expecting, plus Jack Barakat ran past me halfway through the opening song (“Lost in Stereo“), and I ALMOST touched him. I’ve also heard great things about a live A Day To Remember show, and let me tell you, they did NOT disappoint. They’re literally everything I want in a band (and a little more), and I’m kicking myself for not getting into them sooner, because they’re sooooo good (“2nd Sucks” might be my new favourite song/video/thing in general).

So I was already pretty hyped before blink even came on stage…and while they were good, they weren’t as magnificent as I imagined. I’ve always heard that All Time Low’s stage presence was greatly influenced by blink, but there was no banter, and barely any audience interaction, apart from a handful of sentences thrown out by Mark Hoppus. And while the hits were awesome to sing along to (the crowd was so boisterous, I couldn’t even hear myself during songs like “The Rock Show” and “All the Small Things“), they seemed to be playing them by rote and without any real passion. I also have to say that, while Matt Skiba did a decent job on vocals, it was weird hearing certain songs without Tom DeLonge’s nasally voice, especially that second verse of “I Miss You“. It was still worthwhile seeing pop punk royalty like them, but they were probably more exciting a few years ago. Travis Barker is a MACHINE, though, and watching him drum was definitely the highlight of their set.

I’ll be the empty canvas if you be the paint

Few things in this world make me feel more pop-punk than listening to Knuckle Puck (except for listening to Neck Deep. Or eating pizza while avoiding a circle pit, which is what I did at Warped).
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We’ve seen Knuckle Puck two other times, and I even reviewed their debut album, Copacetic for idobi this summer. When we saw them on Wednesday, it was on their first ever headlining tour, which they decided to kick off in Toronto (this rarely happens, so it’s exciting when it does!).

I felt bad for the first opening band, Head North, because the Blue Jays game was on at the same time and more than half the crowd was watching TV instead of listening to them (it was the game we actually won). The second band, Sorority Noise, was good. Honestly, I can’t really remember what they sounded like (I should have written this review earlier!), but they were sorta emo-meets-pop-punk, I think.

Next up was Seaway. The last time we saw them was when they opened for Bayside in March, and I know I enjoyed them. They’re Canadian (from Oakville!), which is awesome. And they’re super pop-punk, which is also awesome. I liked that they had their new album, Colour Blind, for sale, even though its official release date is this Friday.

Finally, Knuckle Puck came out. One of the best parts of being the first date on a tour is hearing certain songs live before anyone else. This show, they played “Ponder”, “In Your Crosshairs”, and “Untitled” (minus the 8 minute outro, which was good because it was so hot in the venue) live for the first time!

I was also glad they played some of my preferred songs early on in the evening, which got me pumped for the rest of the set, including the single, “Disdain”, and “Your Back Porch”.

Something about the Hard Luck Bar makes me sleepy (probably the extreme heat), so it was occasionally difficult to pay attention to them, but, watching Knuckle Puck go from an opening band to a headliner is really cool. I think they’re really starting to make a their mark in the scene – their friendship with Neck Deep probably doesn’t hurt – and I expect great things from them in the next few years.

If you’re looking for an up-and-coming band who plays unapologetic pop-punk, check out Knuckle Puck!

So when you lose your mind, you’ll find it at the bottom of the mess that’s your life

I think I’ve said this before, but Sunday concerts are weird, man. They throw off my entire weekend. But at the end of the day (literally), I’m at a show, and that’s all that matters!

Yesterday, we saw Bayside on their 15th anniversary tour!

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The opening band was Seaway; they’re from Oakville (Ontario), so they’re fairly local (and now I put the twenty one pilots song back in my head…). I quite enjoyed them; they’re like the Canadian Neck Deep- unabashedly pop-punk. There is something kinda funny about a dude in a button-down shirt and glasses calling for a circle pit, though.

Next up was Man Overboard. We saw them headline last May, and while we spent part of the time chuckling at Zac’s high pitched voice, I forgot how much I actually enjoy them. They’re the type of band where you either jump around practicing your scissor kicks or sit around feeling angsty about your life. It’s a broad spectrum, but they cover it really well.

The highlight for us was “Montrose”: DO YOU TAKE PICTURES OFF THE WALLS?

Senses Fail came on next; we thought this tour was odd because the last time we saw Bayside (October 2010), they had actually been opening for Sense Fail (what a role reversal!). Ro pointed out that they would have been the first really screamy band that I saw live (with the possible exception of Set Your Goals in November 2009, but since I griped through their whole set because I was bored, I don’t think they count).

Buddy, the singer, took the opportunity to have some heart-to-heart moments with the audience, mainly surrounding his own recent coming-out as queer (you can read/listen to his story here). You wouldn’t think so based on appearances, but the (pop)punk/metal community tends to be very tolerant of other people’s differences. Buddy’s point was that in a world full of fear, we should strive to see our neighbours with compassion, and his words were met with a roar of approval.

And, to punctuate his point, he segued into “Can’t Be Saved”, which is the song that introduced us to Sense Fail in the first place (because it was on Guitar Hero…).

Bayside came on to “Hedwig’s Theme” (you know you’re a Harry Potter fan when!) and kicked off their set with “Pigsty”, which I really like.

I have to admit: I haven’t listened to every Bayside song ever. If fact, I’ve really only heard a handful of them, and so has Ro. But how often do bands tour for anniversaries (and actually come to Toronto)? Of course we had to go to this show!

And, of course, it’s always nice to be surrounded by hardcore fans, though. You start to feed off their energy, even if you don’t recognize the song.

I also find that I often have a greater appreciation for a band after seeing them live, and that is definitely the case this time around. I’ll be looking up Bayside’s (extensive) discography in the next couple of weeks, because I genuinely enjoyed what I heard.