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2013: Year End Review by Lanny Bolger

ThePunkSite.com’s Best Of 2013

The Best of 2013Once again all of us here at ThePunkSite.com have taken the holidays to sit back and revisit all of our favourite albums of the year. Narrowing them down into easy-to-consume list forms – here’s what the people behind the website you’re currently browsing thought of this year’s music output.

 

Bobby Gorman | Cole Faulkner | Steven Farkas | Emily Thompson | Dustin Blumhagen | José Da Costa Cardo Solis | Lanny Bolger


2013: Year End Review by Lanny Bolger

I’m bloated, hungover,swollen glands, and my ass hurts (from snowboarding out west I swear) the Christmas holidaze must be over, which means it’s time to compile a best of 2013 list for ThePunkSIte.com. Honestly I feel like 2013 wasn’t the greatest year for music punk or not but there were some stand out that are worth mentioning. This list is not numerically sequential just some releases I listed to in the ear goggles. Here it is!

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Live Concert Review

Wakestock 2008

Live (July 26th, 2008)

Lake Ontario - Toronto, Ontario
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The often peaceful, quiet, and lazy demeanor of Toronto Island was ripped a muddy new one this past weekend as the 18th annual Wakestock and a barrage of furious storms rained down on Centre Island.

I could only attend day two of the three-day festival, jam packed with moto cross demos, skate demos, water sports, bikini competitions, vendor village,
And a main stage with a range of bands including Silverstein, Classified, Hot Water Music, and The Rza.

I boarded the ferry, which was full of beachy dressed people looking eager for a fun day in the sun. But the sun didn’t last long because right around 2:15pm the thunder rolled and the lightning struck. Everyone ran for cover under tents, and some under trees (not a smart idea!!!)

I found my self in a Telus tent with about 150 other people. There was a guy rapping in the corner trying to keep everyone entertained, and as we grew listless I heard a thunder crack louder than anything I have ever heard, and saw a giant red ball as a bolt of lightning hit a tree 20 feet away from our tent. The entire ground shook, and the tree had a bite taken out of it the size of a large kayak! It was crazy, but ten minutes later the sun came out, and it was time for some cliché mud sliding and live music.

The first band I watched was Toronto/New York act The Rebel Emergency. I heard good things about this band, so I wanted to check them out. I found their sound and stage presence very generic. A very typical rock reggae sound that failed to inspire or rock me. The crowd seemed to like them however, so good on the new band for building a solid fan base.

After an up to the shins walk in the muck around the festival I decided to check out the Maritime’s most famous MC Classified. I knew very little about the rapper, who had a huge fan base at Wakestock ‘08. I was most impressed with his intelligent, no nonsense, humorous, and up front delivery. Classified is a very talented artist who I would definitely want to see perform again.

It was now time to shift from rap to rock as Burlington’s finest Silverstein was passed the mic. This is another band I haven’t really heard or seen before, so it was fun to see them shred the hometown crowd as the sun slowly started to ascend into Lake Ontario.

Finally it was time for the band I had been excited to see since they went on hiatus. Gainesville Florida’s Hot Water Music took the stage and combusted into the song A Flight and a Crash. Chuck Ragan was playing like a man possessed, and the rest of the guys looked like they were having a pretty good time too. Vocalist/guitarist Chris Wollard mentioned that this was their first gig that they had to take a plane, a boat, and a van to get to.

I guess experimenting music styles with solo projects did Chuck some good because there looked to be a renewed passion in his face, and you could tell that Hot Water Music is still in his soul. There was NO mention of any new material, but the way they looked on stage, well I would be surprised if we do not hear anything new at some point.

And finally it was time for the fan favorite’s, the Hip Hop living legend’s, the chess master’s, bringing the mother-fucking ruckus The Rza and the Gza. Now apparently these American Rappers had a tough time at the boarder, but luckily the Wu Tang Killer Bee’s have wings, and they landed on Centre Island.

The RZA came out first smoking a two-paper joint dropping Wu Tang classics like Shadow Box’n, Tears, and Liquid swords. The fans went crazy and endured a hurricane like storms to see a five star performance that proved Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with!

I enjoyed my first ever day at Wakestock Toronto, and it was certainly electrifying (pun intended). The bands were equally dominating in their own special ways. There were also tones of action to see in the water/skate parks and the highflying Moto Cross demos. There was always something to see or do. The line up to the beer garden was complete BS though, but I guess I can’t have it all.

   
Live Concert Review

The Tom Fun Orchestra

The Dakato Tavern - Toronto, Ontario
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Seems nowadays there isn’t a whole lot you can count on. But if you live in Toronto in March, well you can count on two things. Totally shitty weather and a whole onslaught of amazing live music played in legendary bars or BYOB house parties for Canadian Music Week.

And with more than 500 bands playing at 44 venues you know there are going to be some diamonds in the rough. This year the diamond was found at the Dakota Tavern, and the band goes by the name of the Tom Fun Orchestra. A nine-piece fury from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Now the word must be out on TFO, because The Dakota was packed and it did not look promising that I would be getting in because of the lineup. Luckily Rebel Music Rob had my back, and got me in.

The TFO played as I rushed down the stairs, turned down a drink and got front and center for photographs. The room was swaying back and forth in unison with pint glasses in the air, as the Orchestra soulfully played their rootsy, rebel rousing, traditional, whiskey drenched east coast music.

There was definitely are large east coast presence in the room and everyone else seemed to be related to one of the nine on stage. I have no idea how long they have been around, but there performance was tight. This will be a band to watch for sure. They boldly wear their musical influences on their sleeves, but the way they interpret the music and make it their own is phenomenal as well as original.

By the end of their set I was an instant fan and was fully aware how special this band is. Shows like these are why you go out in blizzard conditions, stand in line, and stay out till 4am. If you here that The Tom Fun Orchestra are coming to town grab a rum and tequila, and make your way to the Cabaret.

Live Concert Review

Rancid

Live (December 10th, 2006)

The Kool Haus - Toronto, Ontario
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You could tell there was a punk show in Toronto near Front Street Sunday, because of all the 2-foot mowhawks milling around loud and proud. It was refreshing to see all the kids amongst the uppity shopper’s, drinking high priced coffee. And those kids, like me were on their way to go see Rancid at the Kool Haus.

I will you spare you on how much Rancid’s music means to me, but I have to say my hands where shaking, as the screen began to play the intro video, and the gents walked out with their instruments, and took position.

Rancid started out swinging belting out Radio, Roots and Radicals, and Nihilism. They were so tight, and didn’t seem to miss a beat. It was so genuine of them to make up the four dates they had to cancel, because of Lars Frederiksen’s collapse on stage in Montreal last fall.

They then went into jukebox mode, and belted through their entire discography, pulling out gems and classics. Their adversity live is quite incredible as they played as hardcore as they could in a song like “Dead Bodies”, and seamlessly move into a reggae influenced jam like “Hoover Street” as it was nothing at all, and I feel that takes a lot of talent. They even got nostalgic and played Operation Ivy’s ska sing along “Unity”.

I found it interesting at one point during a solo for “Black Derby Jacket”, Tim and Lars crowded their new drummer Brendan Steinekert’s kit and appeared to be testing to see if the new guy could keep up to the older rockers. Steinekert was up for the challenge as he pounded the skins like it was his business.

And I knew how this show was going to end, when I saw their roadie Big Jay Bastard tuning some acoustic guitars. The fella’s took centre stage for the encore with their acoustics, and did some old songs a little softer, and everybody loved it.

Seeing Rancid live is much like their song title seeing an “Old Friend”. Because in a way they really are. If you appreciate brilliant, honest, and retrospective lyrics delivered with highly intense, diverse, and soulful music then you probably love Rancid. 

   
Live Concert Review

Rancid, H20, The Flatliners

Live (Aug. 2nd, 2008)

The Kool Haus- Toronto, Ontario
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Do you remember 1995? It was an interesting year. It started off crazy when OJ’s trial began live broadcasts on American daytime television, Ace of Base ruled the charts, Blondisma hair product shares sky rocketed from a frosted tips hair phenomenon, and Rancid released arguably the best punk rock album of all time And Out Come The Wolves.

So you are asking yourself what does a Rancid show review have to do with the inception of the OJ trial on American TV? Because friends the spirit of 95 was alive and well as Rancid played at least three quarters of the legendary A.O.C.T.W album. They shared the stage with New York Hardcore Heroes H2O, and Toronto’s Flatliners.

The first band to stoke the fire were Toronto’s Flatliners who came out glowing based on the fact they were opening up for H2O and Rancid. Vocalist Chris Cresswell had a little extra adrenaline surging all night as they ripped through songs off their Fat release The Great Awake. Opening for bands like Rancid can be tough, but they got a great reception from the home crowd and set the stage nicely for H2O.

Finally after seven years, H2O stepped out of the shadows and wasted no time starting off the show with Nothing to Prove’s first track ironically titled “1995” a song about lead vocalist Toby Morse’s dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs with the music industry as we know it today.

Toronto gave H2O a great welcome back and the energy transfer between the crowd and the band was fantastic. H2O played music from all their albums and even got a little bit heavy metal as they started playing the intro to Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. But in true H20 fashion Toby fused the lyrics to 5 Year Plan, which inevitably started a circle pit. They ended the night with my favorite song on the Nothing to Prove album What Happened?

Well it was now time for what every punk in the Kool Haus wanted. The curtain was pulled and the screen projected grainy profile pictures of each Rancid member. I love this. It is cool to watch the tension build up in the crowds face. Seconds later they took the stage and instantly broke into Ruby Soho.

It was a hot humid Southern Ontario August night, but Tim Armstrong still wore an over sized black trench coat and fedora. And like I said before they put a lot of emphasis on 1995’s seminal A.O.C.T.W.

Rancid proved to be no one trick pony though, and weren’t afraid to play Operation Ivy’s Knowledge. Tim Armstrong also played a song off his solo album Into Action, and other old school staples like I Wanna Riot, Adina, Nihilism, and many, many more.

Some highlights for me were Matt Freeman’s driving bass solo in Maxwell Murder that in my opinion make Les Claypool look like he is sailing in a sea of cheese! Frederiksen and his guitar performed a touching rendition of At the Wars End. I enjoyed the contrasty monochromatic images of Travis Bickle, Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns, and other images of war and history projected behind them on a big screen as they played and watching the intensity in Lars’s face when they played The Other side – a song about Frederiksen’s passed brother Robert; It was truly amazing.

When it was all over even the greasiest liberty Mow hawk hung like a weeping willow in the sweaty air of the Kool Haus. Rancid played an incredible show and proved they have earned their cornerstone in punk rock music. Their ability to seamlessly transition songs in a hardcore vein to a rootsy reggae chord, and carry on to a smooth melody can’t be matched.

“This is the only life I want to live in 1995!
I’m not coming home there’s nothing there for me.
Time flies, it goes by and then you realize
I’m not coming home, this is where I want to be”

I completely related to those lyrics after this show. Much like a smell can trigger a feeling or memory Rancid’s songs brought me back to a time in my life that means a lot to me. And that is to me what music should always be about.

Live Concert Review

Protest The Hero, I Hate Sally

Live (December 9th, 2006)

The Phoenix - Toronto, Ontario
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It’s always a fun for me walking into a concert, and not knowing quite what to expect from the bands playing. This was the case for Toronto record label Underground Operation’s double assault “Bring Out Your Shred” show featuring I Hate Sally and Protest The Hero, at the Phoenix Concert Hall Saturday night.

As I say my experience with both bands was very limited. I heard nothing from I Hate Sally, and have had some brief experience with PTH, passing by stages at the Warped tour, and listening to Kezia briefly over the past couple of weeks.

An energetic I Hate Sally took the stage at 7pm, and showed Toronto that not just prisoners and university grad’s come out of Kingston! The band’s lead singer Dee did not let up. Leading the charge, while delivering ferocious ear shattering vocals, combined with the band’s rhythmic and driving metal core solos, and a little less powerful than Converge like break downs.

I Hate Sally were solid, and kept their energy similar to a three Red Bull buzz. My only complaint with the performance was singer Dee’s lack of vocal range, but just as I was thinking that, BOOM!!! Some kick ass pyro techniques from the guitar player, and an approximately seven minute instrumental break down of their final song.

All in all, a great show was put on by this intense band, and they are defiantly worth checking out if you see their name on a flyer downtown.

Next up was the band most of the predominantly young crowd was there to see, Whitby’s own Protest The Hero. There was an atmosphere of sweat, smoke, and spirit that filled the air, and you could just tell it was going to be a great show.

The stage was lit fantastically, and the band’s banners looked sharp. You could tell from their stage set up that they take rocking out very seriously.

After a healthy dose of synthetic smoke, some green light focused on the stage, and out walked the boy’s from PTH. After taking their positions, they bolstered out No Stars Over Bethlehem, followed byHeretics & Killers, and then they let the crowd know that they were playing “Kezia” in it’s entirety for them.

The crowd went nuts. There is a huge trend right now with bands playing entire albums live. I am not a huge fan of it, but when an albums kicks ass as much as Kezia, well I think I can accept it.

PTH pillaged Kezia into the night, and dolled out an incredible show! There are a lot of take it or leave it kind of bands for me in PTH’s genre right now, because this style of music can’t be faked. PTH is good because they are the real deal, and all you have to do is check them out live to see for yourself.

Live Concert Review

The NightWatchman

Live (May 16th, 2007)

The Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, Ontario
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The Horseshoe Tavern had a little extra security Wednesday night, as The NightWatchman AKA iconic guitar hero Tom Morello softly raged against the machine with songs from his new solo album One Man Revolution.

Toronto was the first official stop for Morello’s alias project, and it was very obvious that the kids in attendance were really, really, really excited to be that intimate with the legendary strummer.

And as the clock struck 11pm (they don’t call him The NightWatchman for nothing) dressed in black, and Irish Malt in his hand Tom Morello walked on stage introduced himself, and began to play California’s Dark to the capacity crowd at the Tavern.

One Man Revolution’s sound is heavily influenced by folk, protest, and country artists like Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, and Joe Strummer, and it translates live very well. Morello addressed the crowd by saying “ Even though I don’t see any mosh pits tonight, doesn’t mean that I don’t see the mosh pits going on in you minds.” This proved to be true as the crowd hung on every one of his words, as he chatted nonchalantly with the crowd between songs.

The NightWatchman played basically everything from his album plus Woody Guthrie’s this land is your land complete with the verses censored by the US government, and ended his set with the last song on his album Until the End.

All in all it was a great performance backed by true, soft, honest, and pissed off music. Morello is better known for playing aggressive music blaring out of Marshall Stacks, but his alter ego The NightWatchman makes noise in other ways that will probably bring him the same acclaim he has received with everything else the man gets involved with.

Live Concert Review

Motorhead

Live (Feb. 26th, 2011)

The Kool Haus - Toronto, ON
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Fresh off the heels of their latest release “The World is Yours,” Motorhead was in Toronto to showcase their latest work to a sold out crowd at the Kool Haus.
What I love about Motorhead’s music is that it crosses genres. And what I love about concerts is that their fans also cross genres. Punks, rockers, metal heads, and classic rockers always come out to show their support. This was no different.

Lemmy took the stage looking rock and roll as ever-said “Good Evening. We are Motorhead!”  and ripped into classic opener “We are Motorhead.”
The staple rock and rollers covered most of their discography and played only two off their latest release which I found strange but also appreciate when a classic band plays it’s classics!

I have seen Motorhead play quite a few times over the years and they were old when I first saw them. This time, Lemmy definitely looked his age and their songs were less crunchy and more slowed down rock and roll which was a change but sounded great.

Lemmy even dedicated a song to Shakespeare at one point in the night before they played “Inferno” classic “In the name of Tragedy”. Other highlights included “Ace of Spades” (of course), Neil Fallon from Clutch coming out to sing “Killed by Death”, and Mikkey Dee’s drum solo during “In the name of Tragedy”.
All in all it was just another great Motorhead show. It’s been happening now for thirty-five years. Enough said.

Set Lists: We Are Motorhead
Stay Clean
Get Back in Line
Metropolis
Over The Top
One Night 
Stand Rock OutGuitar Solo
The Thousand Names of God
I got mine
I Know How To Die
The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
In The Name of Tragedy (w/Drum Solo)
Just ‘Cos You Got The Power
Going To Brazil
Killed By Death
Ace Of Spades
Encore: Overkill

   
Live Concert Review

Iggy and the Stooges

Live (August 6th, 2008)

Massey Hall- Toronto, Ontario
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What a week for rock’n roll. I saw four shows in five days but this show in particular had me very excited. Legendary influential band Iggy and the Stooges were playing Massey Hall with rented equipment due to the robbery of their destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gear in Montreal. And just to make things even more interesting Toronto’s own Fucked Up were the opening act.

I really didn’t understand how Fucked Up was going to play Massey Hall. I mean designated seating. I have seen them play in record store basements, parking lots, skate shops, and other questionable joints on Queen Street, but Massy Hall! Come on how is this going to work?

Well it worked out just fine because Fucked Up’s front man Pink Eyes (Damian Abraham) used his big body presence to make their appearance at this legendary concert hall something to be remembered. Thanks to his wireless microphone he was able to leave his band mates on stage as he took his act to the second balcony singing as he hung off the railing and contemplated jumping off until he realized just how high he was.

It was crazy to see how the security was content to just watch and laugh as he screamed and hung off the balcony. If it would have been the steroid jock security force like at every other show, they would have shut it down for sure, so good on the Massey Hall security for letting punk rock thrive.

Once Pink Eyes got back down to the stage he invited Alexisonfire’s lead vocalist George Pettit to come out and sing a very charged version of Vivian Girls that got everyone up from the designated seating.

Fucked Up could have played it safe and low key, but in true punk form they pushed their show over the edge. Pink Eyes himself thanked security, and was genuinely floored for the fact they never got shut down. The crowd loved it except for a few New York Doll’s looking people who just didn’t get it, but you can’t impress everyone. Fucked Up proved to be an amazing opening act for the Stooges, and earned a deserved place in history at Massey Hall.

It was now time for the band of the hour to make an appearance. The crowd went insane as the foursome took the stage. Legendary bassist Mike Watt looked like he was ready to go to work with his one piece coverall’s on and the chiseled Iggy Pop grabbed the microphone and went absolutely crazy.

The Stooges opened with “Loose” from 1970’s Fun House album and the band started rocking like it was 1970 all over again. The sound was loud and intense with walls of feed back and crunchy guitars. With no banter between songs Iggy and the Stooges cranked out more classics like Be Your Dog, 1969, and TV Eye. An all star line up of Toronto rockers lined the side stage with guys like Ian from Billy Talent, Cone from Sum 41, Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green and George Pettit, and Fucked Up all watch the seminal act tear through their discography.

Now I know Iggy is 61, and you can say what you want, but that guy must have drank from the fountain of youth, He performed like a wild man throwing mic stands, doing stage dives, and screaming at the top of his lungs. I just can’t imagine what he must have been like when he was in his twenties. Aside from cutting himself with glass and rubbing meat on his body, his on stage demeanor was as outrageous as ever.

The highlight of the night was defiantly when Iggy invited everyone on stage to dance during “ A Real Cool Time”. Hundreds of people rushed the stage to dance and sing with the band. It was really beautiful to see everyone having such a good time. As the song ended Iggy wanted to keep the dance party going and instantly started playing “No Fun” which was a complete oxymoron, because more people rushed the stage to shake their Asses and rub their hands all over Iggy’s sweaty leathery skin. As the song ended Iggy chanted Fucked Up over and over as Pink Eyes threw his arms around him.

The Stooges continued to bring the noise with classics like Fun House, Skull Ring, Troll’n, I Got A Right, and an encore performance playing Electric Chair and I’m Fried. A limping Pop looked like he had enough and slithered off the stage a soaking wet mess.

Their van was found in Montreal last Wednesday, but no valuables were found. If this buzz saw aggressive performance was fueled by rage of being robbed, well then at least one good thing came out of this horrible heist.

Live Concert Review

The Good, The Bad, The Queen

Live (March 11th, 2007)

The Kool Haus - Toronto, Ontario
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“This band was just thrown together. They don’t even have any shirts for sale!” I overheard someone say, walking by me to smoke outside the Kool Haus, Sunday night before The Good, The Bad, and the Queen’s first gig outside of the UK. Being thrown together is usually how super groups come to be, but in this case it is the sound the makes TGTBTQ super. TGTBTQ member’s consists of Blur and Gorillaz front man Damon Albarn, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, former Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Afrobeat pioneer and Africa 70 drummer Tony Allen.

The Toronto crowd was as ranged and diverse as the band playing. Hipster’s, nerds, real estate agents, crusty punks who thought they were going to hear Guns of Brixton, and of course boys who like girls, who like girls, who like boys (and I think you get the picture).

The stage was dressed like an old London pub, with a piano in the corner draped by Union Jack, bottles of wine, and tiny red and blue flags. The backdrop was a painting of an old market setting in London. Nerves flared, as dub music played in the background. You could just tell something really special was about to go down.

As the lights came up a sexy string quartet began to play, but I couldn’t help but be in awe of iconic Paul Simonon. He walked onto the stage ignoring Toronto’s anti smoking bylaw looking as stylish as an Italian hand bag, grabbed his bass, and began plucking the intro to the “history song”. His bass echoed triumphantly through all 27,000 square feet of the Kool Haus.

The band sounded tight, and with drummer Tony Allen’s percussion skills they sound large. It was after they played the first four songs consecutively, I realized the band was performing the entire album top to bottom. The band’s front man Damon Albarn did most of the talking between songs, which also proved as informative as he gave us all a lesson about being fitted, caring, and steaming a top hat.

Despite the band’s dark, mellow, and moody balladry the live energy was there, mainly lead by Simonon who was never static, lurking and swinging hiss bass like it was 1977. Not to be outdone was Tony Allen’s drumming showcase during “Three Changes”. I have never heard beats being pounded like that, and the talent of this group was blatantly evident. Throughout the performance the band experimented with instruments and sounds and closed the show with it’s title track TGTBTQ complete with an intense six – minute instrumental that left the crowd speechless, the band sweaty, and everyone in the crowd wishing the album had a few more tracks.

Please don’t ask me to ever try to describe the sound of TGTBTQ. I am not sure anyone really can. These musicians came together for whatever reason, and created a beautiful, original, and eclectic piece of work that I think any music fan can appreciate, or take something from. But the real taker here is that they are amazing live, and I feel privileged to have seen them. I have no idea as to what capacity this band has planned for the future, but I can only hope for more albums, and more live shows. For this super group it is not that sound of egos scraping together, it’s the sound of a 100% original group effort resulting in beautiful music for all the right reasons.

Live Concert Review

Gogol Bordello, Dub Trio


By

Rating: The Kool Haus- Toronto, Ontario/5

 
 

 

 

There truly is nothing more satisfying than going to a concert knowing nothing about the headlining band, and walking away soaked in sweat, tapping your foot, and a brand new appreciation for a group that you have so far over looked. For me this was Gogol Bordello, who lambasted the Kool Haus with their self styled brand of gypsy punk rock.

Brooklyn, New York’s Dub Trio got things going with their metal fused dub rock. I really had no idea how this style would translate, but it was surprisingly amazing, and it just seemed to work. The trio reminded me at times of Helmet with its blazing heavily distorted, repetitive, guitar riffs with lots of feedback. The trio would then seamlessly break into a King Tubby style dub – definitely an original group with an original sound. If I were to see them again, I would hope for a smaller venue. Their music is so instrument driven that the guys don’t move around much, which made the huge Kool Haus stage seem a bit empty.

After a good twenty minutes of anticipation it was finally time to see what all the fuss was about with this Ukrainian sensation Gogol Bordello. The rag tag Gypsy’s took the stage an immediately dived into the opening track of their new Side One Dummy release Super Taranta’s Ultimate. Within two songs of their set list it was easy to see that this band was special. The gypsy punk’s punks packed a live punch equal to their label mates Flogging Molly. With very little banter between songs Gogol Bordello played songs from all their albums and had the entire crowd dancing on the spot.

It was a remarkable performance, and it is now easy to see why Madonna wanted the charismatic Gogol Bordello front man Eugene Hutz on stage with her at Live Earth. This band has a lot of different genres stuck to them, but after seeing them, I will call them a dance band, because that is what they make you do.

Live Concert Review

Fucked Up

Live (December 15th, 2007)

Sonic Boom /Adrif Skate Shop - Toronto, Ontario
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Just in case you haven’t had enough of Christmas, and refuse to get back into the swing of things in 2008, I bring you a review of Toronto hardcore annihilators Fucked Up’s in store performance at Sonic Boom which was followed by a surprise show at Adrift Skate Shop/park in the Kensington Market later that night.

Fucked Up’s throat Mr. Damian aka Pink Eyes dawned a Santa Claus suit and posed for photos for all who purchased the David Christmas 7 inch. Nearly all proceeds from the sale of the record were being donated to the George Herman House, which is a transitional housing and life skills program that supports women who are living with mental health issues. The B side to the seven inch has a remix to the title track, which has the band collaborating with artists such as James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), Cole (Black Lips), Davey Havok (AFI), Kevin Peterson (What’s Your Rupture?), Faris Rotter (The Horrors), Mike Fellows (Rites Of Spring), Matt Sweeney (Chavez/ Zwan), Dave One (Chromeo), Jacob Thiele (The Faint), Morag and Ursula, Jay Reatard, Dan Romano (Attack In Black), Trevor Keith (Face To Face), Jason Green (PanthersOrchid), Jerry A. (Poison Idea), Shenae Grimes (Degrassi: The Next Generation), Scott Vogel (Terror) and Nelly Furtado.

When Fucked Up took the stage with Pink Eyes still in his Santa outfit, and the band in elf costumes the holiday spirit filled Sonic Boom’s basement. The band instantly broke into Fear, and the crowd got crazy.

There were even guest appearances at the show by none other than Sloan’s Chris Murphy who showed the Fucked Up crowd that he could throw down with some punk rock. He screamed three songs with the band. The first I could not recognize over the mayhem, followed by Bad Religion’s Latch Keys Kids, and Black Flag’s Depression. Truly a unique moment at the show, for sure.

Pink Eyes returned to the stage and Fucked Up ripped out two more songs, and announced the secret show at Adrift Skate Shop/Park later that evening. In the end sweat poured, fake snow was thrown, Chris Murphy got hardcore, and money was raised for a good cause. Is that not what the holidays are all about?

Adrift Skate Shop was the scene of the next Fucked Up appearance of the day. The show took place in the back where the skate park is located. The beer was selling in the back and there was a positive energy among the crowd. This was my first show at the park, and felt like it was going to be a good one.

I walked in as Quest For Fire was playing. I was told they were made up of members from the Deadly Snakes (R.I.P). They had a real guitar driven sound, which reminded me of Sound Garden with more relaxed vocals.

The next band which played was from Detroit and was called TYVEK. They played a raw kind of Elvis Costello inspired punk rock. I was standing at the front and couldn’t really hear them well, so I will stop right there.

Next up was Fucked Up to perform for the second time that day. They did what they do best, and the entire floor turned into an ever-evolving circle pit. Fucked Up played through their set and left it up to the crowd to decide the final song. Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown was the winner and Pink Eyes handed over the mic to anyone who felt like being Keith Morris. What a show, and there is nothing like getting Fucked Up all day!

   
Live Concert Review

Flogging Molly, Street Dogs

Live (March 6th, 2007)

The Opera House- Toronto, Ontario
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St. Patrick’s Day came 11 days early this year for me, and a sold out Opera House crowd Tuesday night, as Flogging Molly’s annual Green 17 Tour rolled into a frigidly cold Toronto.

The doors couldn’t open up fast enough, as chilled to the bone punks hovered in line in anticipation to see the stellar line up, which featured solo act Twopointeight, Boston’s Street Dogs, and of course the tour headliners Flogging Molly.

After missing the opening act, because of interview scheduling I got into position to take photos of The Street Dogs. There was definitely a buzz in the air for this Boston street punk rock staple. The band took the stage, and immediately broke into Not Without a Purpose off the quintet’s Fading American Dream 2006 release. Mike McColgan showed the now sweaty crowd why he is one of the most prolific front men in punk rock. He spent more time in the crowd with the fans, than he did on stage. The Dogs played material from all their albums, and showed why they owned the opening spot on tour.

Next it was time for the big show Flogging Molly. The crowd was edgy and excited for the seven piece to take the stage. But they didn’t have to wait long, as Dave King sauntered on stage looking peppy and determined to rock this crowd into frenzy, and that’s what they did. I’m not sure if there is a live band out there that can create the energy and chaos that FM can. They opened with a new song, but it was as if everyone in the room heard it before. FM held their fans in their palms as they blasted through their discography leaving no one disappointed.

It was interesting to watch the inner dynamics of the band as they played. Singer Dave King seemed like the head coach encouraging the band to rock harder, and keep a pace. You couldn’t help but watch the new accordion player try to keep up with the band, reading the sheet music on the fly. I have never witnessed such busy instrument technicians, as they pulled double duty tuning guitars, topping up drinks, lighting cigarettes, and keeping the stage clear. The band kept up the party going for two solid hours, and left a mark on the crowd like a Guinness stain on a white shirt.

Flogging Molly is the real deal. They play hard, they drink hard, and they appreciate their audience just as much if not more, than the audience appreciates them. Even if you can’t see this band on the Green 17 Tour, do yourself a favor, and go put on a Flogging Molly record, crank it loud, grab a Guinness, and the band will be there in spirit, because that’s who they are ‘me son!

Live Concert Review

Dillinger Four, Frankie Stubbs, Fucked Up

Live (Oct. 9th, 2008)

Sneaky Dee’s - Toronto, ON
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One of the perks to doing interviews the night of the show can sometimes be what you overhear. Especially when you overhear Dillinger Four’s Tour Manager talking about a secret show at Sneaky Dee’s (best nachos in the world) with Toronto’s Fucked Up.

I hopped in a cab after NOFX/Dillinger Four completed their second show in as many nights at the Kool Haus and headed straight for Sneaky Dee’s. Local Hardcore group Career Suicide were warming up the stage, so I decided to head back to the bar to enjoy a couple of beers before Fucked Up hit the stage.

As I leaned on the bar watching Career Suicide, I couldn’t help but overhear a guy behind me telling a friend that Frankie Stubbs (vocalist of Leatherface) was in the house. My mouth dropped and I butted into the conversation demanding to know if he was being serious. He assured me that he was not lying and I became really excited because Leatherface are one of my all time favorite bands.

I searched the room looking for the Leatherface front man realizing that I wasn’t even sure if I would recognize him. Most pictures of Stubbs are grainy black and whites but I knew I could figure it out. And that became very easy to do when the members of D4 piled in and were completely surprised that their friend from Sunderland, England was in attendance for a very special show.

It was now time for Fucked Up to take the stage. I wasn’t sure how much energy they would have in the tank after their trail of destruction they left at the MTV building a mere six hours before. But as the chords to “Crusades” started to play the floor boards at Sneaky Dee’s shook as the crowd went aggro to one of the most fascinating bands in punk rock today.

Fucked Up played a mix of tracks from “Hidden World” and their brand new release “The Chemistry for Common Life”, and warmed out the crowd nicely with their aggressive on stage persona. Before they played their final song they assured the crowd that we were all in for a special performance.

I was pretty sure I knew what he was talking about but I just couldn’t imagine just what Mr. Stubbs had in store for us. As he took the stage everyone who knew what was going on gathered around and formed a circle. Everyone shouted out their favorite Leatherface song in hopes that they would hear their request. Frankie introduced himself and said that this was the first show in the past 15 years that he had to pay to get in and was demanding that D4’s Paddy would reimburse him for the price of admittance.

As the crowd settled Stubbs began to play the soft intro to “Not Superstitious” and dedicated it to a couple (Wally and Jennifer, I think if I remember correctly) who were recently married which was the reason Stubbs was in Toronto in the first place.

Some decided to wave lighters in the air, others smiled softly while singing along, and D4’s Paddy grabbed a beard and hair trimmer and decided to start shaving his beard as Stubbs strummed and sang on with his distinctive blistering voice.

After the last of the secret performances it was now time for Minnesota’s number one sons the Dillinger Four to take the stage. With half a beard and half a head of air Paddy began thumping his bass as they broke into “Noble Standings”.

Now not to say that I didn’t enjoy my first two previous D4 sets at the Kool Haus, but I walked away with the feeling that something was missing. It’s not that they didn’t play well but I had always read about how crazy D4 shows can be, but the NOFX opening shows just didn’t translate as well for me.

Well this feeling was tossed out quickly because D4 seemed more at home in the small confines of Sneaky Dees as they went on to perform a fantastic beer and whiskey soaked performance that lived up to all my expectations of what a D4 show should be.

D4 vocalist and bass player Paddy Costello proved he is one of the most entertaining performers in punk rock as he slowly shaved his beard and head throughout the entire performance. He even shaved a couple of fans, which were willing to part with their moustaches and beards. He also went on to shit talk some English Skin Heads, which resulted in one getting up on stage and confronting Paddy. He quickly diffused the situation with humor and punk rocked on into the night.

I almost didn’t make this show because there was a party down the street offering free drinks, but due to the fact D4 never tours and I rarely miss a Fucked Up show I chose to go to Sneaky Dees and pay for my drinks. And I am very glad I did because that was one of the best punk shows I have seen in a while. Plus add the fact I was able to share some hops and barley with legendary Frankie Stubbs, well let’s just say that my fourth show in two nights was legendary.

Live Concert Review

Darkest Hour, August Burns Red

Live (Oct. 23rd, 2007)

The Kool Haus - Toronto, ON
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I have always been one of those arrive fashionably late kind of people, which is cool for parties, but for reviewing concerts well it just isn’t all that effective. The show I am talking about was the Unearth, Darkest Hour, August Burns Red, and Suicide Silence.

I showed up three songs into August Burns Red’s set. Now I had never heard of, or heard a song by the band, but just by their name, I felt like I knew exactly what this band would sound like, and I was pretty much right. They had a very heavy metal core polished style, which got the faux hawks and Castro caps head banging at The Opera House. ABR had great energy, but I felt there was no separation in their music, and could not tell the difference from one song to the next. I will commend them for giving their fans a great show, and by doing so warming up the crowd like a good opener should. Just nothing new or refreshing about the band.

Next up was Richmond Virginia’s number one hardcore thrash metal (whatever you want to call them) sons Darkest Hour. As the band entered the stage I thought I was at a Cypress Hill show, so much green grass of freedom was blazing. After a brief hello they ripped into Doomsayer, and I buckled up for one of the most ferocious electrifying bands in the hardcore scene today. Darkest Hour play like a band possessed, and with that kind of energy the crowd definitely catched on. They played songs mostly from their last three albums, and because they weren’t headlining I don’t think any Darkest Hour fans got enough. They closed with Marching to a Killing Rhythm, which generated a circle pit that would make even the surliest Cro – Mags fan satisfied.

Now to really make the review incomplete, because of other commitments I had to leave, so I have no idea how the Unearth show went, but judging by all the people who were wearing their recently purchased Unearth t shirts they had a lot of fans, which usually makes for a great set.

Live Concert Review

Comeback Kid

Live (March 8th, 2007)

The Kathedral - Toronto, Ontario
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Fresh off a UK tour, Winnipeg’s hardcore hero’s Comeback Kid raged the stage of the Kathedral Thursday night in Toronto. The guys were in town to promote their third full length release “Broadcasting…”, produced by Blasting Room technician Bill Stevenson, so you know it’s going to be good!

And “Broadcasting…” translates very nicely live too, as the band shredded out songs featured on the album, but also played a lot of material from “Wake the Dead”, and a few samples from their first album “Turn it Around”.

The band wears their musical influences on their sleeves, and they pay homage well. Few hardcore bands today can capture the essence of old school spirit from bands like Sick of it All, Agnostic Front, or Hatebreed, and still able to put their own style to the sound without sounding redundant. I am not sure if there is a better, more intense, ravaging song to hear live than “Wake the Dead”! If you can’t get up for that song you don’t have a pulse.

All in all Comeback Kid gave everyone one in the club that rush you can only get from a good hardcore show. They closed it up with their last two songs, being the last two songs on their first two albums, Final Goodbye, and Lorelei. There were defiantly new members of the band playing, but sounded very tight and focused nonetheless. And that is a good thing because the band has a heavy touring schedule coming up.

   
Live Concert Review

Coliseum, Burning Love

Live (July 12th, 2010)

Parts & Labor - Toronto, Ontario
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Did you say fine dining, wine bar, and art gallery upstairs and punk rock in the basement?  Sold.  This was my response when a friend of mine asked me to go to Parts and Labour Monday night to see Burning Love and – oh ya – Coliseum are headlining.  “Cool beans” I thought as I grabbed my camera and headed out to Queen West.

I didn’t actually go into the restaurant but as I passed through it looked really beautiful.  I can’t wait to go back and check it out.  After walking down the stairs and opening a very thick door, which I will presume acts as a punk noise barrier to the dining area, and paying the man at the door, I took a look around a fair sized room with a long bar, a few couches and a bubble hockey table.  What else do you need at a punk show?

I missed the two openers but made it just in time for Toronto’s Burning Love who is fronted by Chris Colohan, lead vocalist of the now defunct Cursed.  Colohan is an amazing lyricist and singer; and I was really excited to see this band.  The Curse disbanded in ‘08 shortly after a robbery in Europe where all the band members lost their wallets, passports, and instruments.  What is so crazy about all this is that I overheard one of their band members talking to a friend while setting up and he told him they (Burning Love) were robbed last week in West Philadelphia (insert the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap here).  That is some seriously bad luck for seemingly really nice guy Chris Colohan.

Now to the show.  This is a music review right?  Burning Love was fucking unreal.  There are not a lot of new bands in this genre that impress me these days but this band is legit.  From the strike of the first chord and after Colohan let out his first blood-curdling scream I was hooked on Burning Love.

Burning Love’s passionate live performance blended well with the intimacy of the small setting.  Fans as well as Colohan got as close and personal with each other as they pleased.  It was an epic show for me and I didn’t know a single song but that has changed since I bought their new album and I will plug it because it’s amazing: “Songs for Burning Lovers”.

It seemed Burning Love couldn’t thank Coliseum enough for their help through the robbery, and it’s really cool to hear about bands helping each other out.  Anyway bottom line Burning Love is amazing and I wish them a lot of success with their music.

Next up was Coliseum.  I love this band and they are a tour de force live.  They have a fresh release titled “House with a Curse” and it is also amazing and gaining some attention right now.  Coliseum blend a Motorhead, Black Flag, Zeke, Misfits kind of sound but those are just influences because they definitely have own their sound.

After a brief sound check Coliseum burst into “Blind in one Eye” followed by “Everything to Everyone” then “Crime and the City” trailed by “Cloaked in Red” and that’s when it became clear to me that Coliseum was playing their entire new album.

I have to say I’m not a huge fan of this format.  I have seen Coliseum before so it wasn’t a huge deal to me but if this was my first experience with them I would feel slighted.  Their entire discography stands tall live and I wanted it all.  Maybe I am greedy.

Coliseum’s front man Ryan Patterson, Louisville Kentucky native, seems to have a real passion for Ontario as he pronounced his love for Toronto and the rest of the province.  He also gave a shout out to the Constantines saying they were one of his favorite bands and a huge inspiration.  I happened to notice theConstantines’ drummer was in the house so they must be road buddies.  Patterson also addressed his frustration with all the media mislabeling his band since the release of House with a Curse.  He went on to say “We are a punk band first and foremost.  We were a punk band when I started this thing and we are a punk band now.  Not a prog, metal, sludge, or whatever you want to call it!  We are a punk band!”

Upon finishing their House with a Curse set the guys took a brief interlude to wipe the sweat from their faces and came back for some more and they started out with their first song from their first album “Detached” followed by “Defeater” and “No Benefit”.  The momentum shift of energy from the crowd was night and day when they played their older material.  I then felt justified in my belief that playing an entire album live isn’t that cool.  It was still a great show and Coliseum is amazing live but I want to hear the old stuff because I’m an old guy!

All in all: a really awesome show.  Parts and Labour will have to promote a little better because I didn’t hear about the show until an hour before their doors opened and I consider myself to have an ear to the ground.  I look forward to more shows at this venue.

Live Concert Review

Bad Religion, The Bronx

Live (Sept. 24th, 2008)

The Sound Academy- Toronto, Ontario
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Kings of Punk Bad Religion have embarked on a cross Canada tour that would make Stomp’n Tom Connors smile touching down on cities like Saskatoon, Thunder Bay, Halifax and Moncton. I was in the house as the political protester’s stopped by the center of the universe (or so we sometime may think) Toronto for a nearly two hour spectacular last Wednesday at The Sound Academy.

Now, working late + traffic = no chance in hell that I was going to make it in time to see the Bronx. Going into the show this didn’t really bother me for I have seen The Bronx a number of times in the past couple of years. But as I entered the concert hall the band was thanking everybody in the crowd for a good night and announced the last song would be off their second self titled album, “Around the Horn”. They did an amazing job on this track and it had me now wishing I would have been there for the entire set. Oh well I guess you can’t see em’ all.

Next up was the band the entire crowd was there to see. The mighty Bad Religion. The diversity in ages at the show was incredible to see. I am really glad younger people are still catching on to these legends, and I am also glad that old schooler’s alike are still coming out to pay respect and support the seminal California five piece or six piece, whatever you want to call them.

Twenty First Century Digital Boy started off the charged set as the crowd went off to the sounds of the 1990 classic. And from there the hits kept coming like an infinite play list (hate me for using that reference) with classics like Big Bang, Anesthesia, You, Suffer, Stranger Than Fiction, and so on and so on.

I have to be honest around the firth song of the night I found myself thinking that maybe I was getting a little sick of seeing Bad Religion live. I was having a hard time getting that passionate live connection I used to get when I was being crushed against the barrier, as Graffin sang his songs while pointing his finger at you.

I soon realized I was harboring negative thoughts towards quite possibly one of my all time favorite bands. Maybe a change in position would help. I plowed my way through the crowd to stand back by the soundman. It was then from a distance I bitch slapped myself, and snapped out of it. I then realized I was watching by far the most consistent, the most powerful, the most thought provoking, and by far the most relevant punk rock band to carry the torch from an integral period in punk rock history 28 years ago.

BR wound down the night with a couple classics from seminal 1993 album Recipe For Hate. Classics “American Jesus” and the title track for that album on which Brian Baker’s extended solo cut like a Razor Wire.

There was no way that was enough for the packed Sound Academy Bad Religion faithful. The guys came back out and performed “Dearly Beloved” acoustically, followed by Like a fucking atom bomb “Generator”, and closed the curtain with “Sorrow”.

Once again Bad Religion delivered an unmatched flawless (Aside from Bentley’s throaty rap solo during “Let the Eat War”) performance. What was really amazing to see is just how much fun BR is having when they play. This is obviously what has kept the great and united for so many years.

Live Concert Review

Bad Religion

Live (January 27th, 2013)

Horseshoe Tavern - Toronto, Ontario
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Rolling Stones, Wilco, Willie Nelson, The Ramones, Etta James, The Tragically Hip, Teenage Head, The Police, Stomp’n Tom Connors, Frank Black, Neko Case, Ryan Adams, and now Bad Religion. What do all these bands have in common? They are all globally revered artists and groups equally imperative to their genres, which have played the legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In Bad Religion’s thirty-year tenure they have certainly played some larger venues than the shoe but this was an album release party of sorts for the punk veterans latest work “True North”. The show was put on by Toronto local radio station 102.1 The Edge. You had to win to get in to this very special engagement at a venue that has a capacity of less than 400 people. Unheard of right?

This was a show I had to see, I woke up the morning of the show with an excitement I haven’t felt in a long time. I just couldn’t fathom seeing a band that meant so much to me in a setting like the Horseshoe Tavern. I have seen the band at least a dozen times in the usual setting but as any avid concert – goer knows venue is everything and when you get a chance to see legends in an intimate setting you are undoubtedly in for a treat.

The excitement was running quite high at the shoe leading up to the 8:30pm start. The stage was decorated with golden tinsel. If that isn’t an obvious sign that we were in for a treat, well I don’t know what is? I maneuvered around until I could find a good nook and cranny to take a few pictures of this special occasion also to prove to my friends this actually happened.

As I stood there getting in a zone I noticed Rush’s Tom Sawyer playing on the house speakers. I thought to myself I can’t really stand Rush and this is terrible music to get the crowd pumped for a BR show. The next song to play was Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call me maybe”. Another odd choice I thought. Oh well as I looked at my feet. So what came up next? “Skater Boy” by Avril Lavigne, and then some bull shit Celine Dion song. It became glaringly obvious Bad Religion was going to make us pay for their free concert by forcing us to listen to stereotypical Canadian content crappiness. Dirty pool Bad Religion. Dirty pool.

After five minutes of Celine Dion the quintessential so cal punk veterans took the stage smirking while greeting the crowd, and then blazed head on into 1988’s “Suffer”.

I was happy they started with an oldie. I was slightly worried that they would play their new album from start to finish. But they didn’t. Seeing them so close and feeling their sonic energy from three feet away was an amazing experience.

I continued to photograph them for approximately 15 minutes before it struck me that I need to go grab a couple of Steam Whistle Pilsners and stand back so I can truly take this experience in. Getting out of the pit was tricky as nobody wanted to move an inch. The small bar was completely packed but my thirst for a beer and a sweet eye line was not going to stop me.

The crowd was interesting. I had no idea what to expect. There were definitely some hardcore fans, but with this being a show of contest winners there were also a lot of people who you could tell were not privy to how special of an engagement this truly was. After all I heard a guy on the radio two days before win tickets because he called in to a show called “What’s wrong with you?” This is where callers phone in and tell messed up stories about themselves and usually the most pathetic story wins a prize. This particular guy won tickets because he told a story about walking in on his wife of 17 years having sex with his 17 year old son’s best friend. I’m guessing this guy may have been one of the people selling his tickets for this show on Craigslist for $170 a piece. Who knows?

Anyway Bad Religion ripped through their vast discography playing classics from the 80’s, 90’s, the 2000’s, and whatever the hell you call the decade we are in now. Bangers like Only Gonna Die, Anastesia, You, Conquer the World, Modern Man, Sorrow, and American Jesus had never sounded so good to me live before this.

Front man Greg Graffin also displayed how hilarious he actually is. I guess the confined space put more pressure on between song banter as Graffin proved he has the moves like Jager as he danced while telling tales of playing the Rivoli (a few bars down the street) in ’87 the same night the Stones were playing the Horseshoe. He also cleverly mocked the inevitable drunk guy at every show who loves to continually yell out that one obscure song we all know the band has zero intention on playing.  The band also seemed to be having a genuinely good time performing in the small setting themselves. I’m sure it was quite a different experience for them as well but they looked totally comfortable and excitable during their hour and a half performance.

I have seen Bad Religion perform at a lot of venues in a lot of cities in my time but I have never seen them like this. It was truly epic. To hear those crispy-layered guitar riffs, Jay Bentley’s pounding bass, Brooks Wackerman’s furious drumming, the background staple ooooz’n aaaahs, and Graffin’s brilliant lyrics and crystal clear vocals in a setting like The Horseshoe Tavern will be something I’ll never forget.

If veteran bands are looking to reconnect with fans or break the mold of a regular gig from a fan’s perspective I highly recommend the big band in a small venue format. You really feel like you’re part of something special.

Every generation has that artist or band that they connect, identify, and grow up with. Bad Religion is my Springsteen, my Clash, my Public Enemy, my Jimi Hendrix, my Michael Jackson, my Beatles, my Elvis, or my Bob Dylan.

As I exited the concert hall and walked down the stairs past the long bar of the Tavern I thought to myself how cool it was to feel something so new and so exciting with a band I’ve been listening to over half of my existing life and that is a very special feeling or thing to experience. Before I walked out the door I quickly realized this was by far one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

   
Live Concert Review

The Aggrolites

Live (August 1st, 2007)

The Mod Club - Toronto, Ontario
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Reggae hit Toronto as Hell Cat Record’s roots, rocking; reggae outfit the Aggrolites played the Mod Club. I love shows at the Mod Club. Great lighting, great stage, and an unbelievable acoustics that I hoped would compliment the Aggrolites smooth clean sound.

The band stormed the stage uniformly dressed in a suit of Dickies, and I knew by their immediate energy that the non breathable 65% polyester, 35% cotton fabric combined with the Toronto heat, that the show was going to get sweaty.

As they broke into Dirty Reggae it was plain to see the Aggrolites were not here to mess around. For the mellow music they create their live show is anything but mellow. They blazed through tracks like a machine from all three of their albums. Leaving the sweaty fans wanting much more, and much more they got.

The band easily played the coolest encore I have ever seen. They blazed through cover songs from the likes of Toots and the Maytals, The Clash, Tim Armstrong, Symarip, and last but not least a heart wrenching version of the Beatle’s “Don’t let me down”.

Anytime I read press on this band, there are 1001 comparisons, and people trying their hardest to label this band. All you need to know is that they pour their heart and their souls into this band, which is more, like a machine live. I highly suggest checking them out live, and watching the progress this group will make throughout their career.

Live Concert Review

Against Me!, Mastodon

Live (May 15th, 2007)

The Kool Haus- Toronto, Ontario
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As torrential rains poured down on Toronto last Tuesday, you could tell there was something more in the air than just a storm. A fantastic tour was also raining down on the Kool Haus that involved These Arms are Snakes, Cursive, Against Me, and Mastodon. I couldn’t wait to see how this mixture of diverse bands was going to play out.

Now because of the intense rains, and the majority of people who can’t drive in the rain, I had to miss the first two bands on the bill due to traffic. But when I finally did arrive, the Kool Haus was filled with hardcore punks, coolest of the cool indie kids, and my favorite, the ass kicking metal heads. One group of fans would scream for Against Me, and the rival Mastodon faithful would chant for Mastadon. It was all in good fun and it kept the energy flowing.

Then our four favorite sons from Gainesville Florida came out, dressed in black, and as the intro drums from Pints of Guinness makes you Strong kicked in the Kool Haus went nuts. Once again I don’t know if it was the storm outside, but I have never seen a Toronto crowd with as much moxie as I did that night. Fists were thrown, and security did not mess around as a steady parade of punkers were marched out the front door, as Against Me ripped through their songs. It got so bad at one point, that front man Tom Gabel had to ask the security “What was going on”?

This is the second time I have seen Against Me playing recently with no noticeable bottles of Budweiser littering the stage. I am not sure if the boys are going alcohol free during their performances, but I have also never seen them as tight as they were that night. This band has been on the road constantly, and even though they haven’t been around all that long, they look like seasoned veteran road warriors up there, and they play like it too.

They focused heavily on their released material but also played three or four new songs that have me physically counting down the days until their latest release “New Wave” drops. There is a reason there is so much buzz around these guys, and they have to be seen live. I find it intriguing how they seem to close themselves off to the audience between songs, never speaking to the crowd, and then as soon as they strike the chords, and Tom begins to sing, it is all about delivering perfection to the audience.

After a short set change, and an exodus of happy pogo’rs, a sea of angry devil horns filled the Kool Haus, as it was now time for a little metal brought to us courtesy of Mastodon. Security was already uptight from the Against Me show, so their intensity was felt by the kids in the front row. Mastodon was touring in support of their latest release Blood Mountain.

Now I am not familiar with the band at all, but I really enjoyed their rootsy, thundering, technical, authentic metal sound, which they created, and the drummer’s kit was painted to tribute Randy Rhodes, which I thought was really cool.

I thought the show was really successful, and nothing was lost with the drastically different music styles the bands played.and gave music fans from all genres something to bang their heads to.

 

Bovine Sex Club

Bovine Sex Club

Darryl Fine

Club Owner
By on February 2011 at The Bovine Sex Club - Toronto, Ontario

 

 

So if you have ever partied in Toronto at some point in the last 20 years chances are you have partied at The Bovine Sex Club. The Bovine is probably my favorite bar of all time. It has stood the test of time and has watched the music scene change and waiver as The Bovine has just continued to change and evolve with it. It’s a great place to see live music and hang out with cool people. 

This Saturday The Bovine will celebrate 20 years with a bash that includes Hunter, The Flatliners, The Saint Alvia, and special guest DJ: Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman. I had a chance to chat withThe Bovine Sex Club’s owner/founder Darryl Fine to discuss the history as well as the future of the bar as he referred to as the punk rock Cheers. Read More…

Tim Barry

Tim Barry

Tim Barry

Suburban Home Records
By on February 6th, 2010 at Wrongbar - Toronto, Ontario

 

 

There are not a lot of musicians out there like Tim Barry. If you know him, you know his history as the front man for Avail who are, in my opinion, one of the greatest, most underrated, and highly influential punk rock bands around.  You probably also know his brilliant simple solo acoustic folk music that he puts his name on now. I was really looking forward to this interview and talking to Tim for 20 plus minutes was just like listening to one of his records. There were happy moments, educational moments, introspective moments, intelligent moments, and some sad moments. After our interview over a couple of Labatt 50’s, Tim took the stage with a broken hand and a five or six beer buzz and delivered a solo performance more powerful than most five man bands could ever give. Read More…

The Saint Catherines

The Saint Catherines

Hugo Mudie

Fat Wreck Chords
By on November 30th, 2009 at The Phoenix - Toronto, Ontario

 

 

The third and final interview of the day (the firsts being with Me First & The Gimme Gimmes and Dead To Me) took place with Quebec’s number one punk rock sons the Sainte Catherine’s who have been constantly touring their freshmen Fat wreck Chord’s release Dancing for Decadence. The band recently took home an award for “Best Independent Punk Album” at the Quebec Independent Music Awards.

I had a chance to chat with the group’s lead singer Hugo before their performance opening up for Me First and the Gimmee Gimmee’s at the Phoenix in Toronto. Read More…

The ReVolts

The ReVolts

Spike Slawson

Pirate Press Records
By on August 7th, 2009 at Sneaky Dee's - Toronto, Ontario

 

 

The Re Volts are an upstart punk band comprised of contributing members from seminal punk rock acts like the Swingin’ Utters, Me First and the Gimmee Gimmees, One Man Army, US Bombs,and The Forgotten. I almost forgot that last one. Anyway I had a chance to sit down for an interview with the busiest man in punk rock: Re Volt front man Spike Slawson. Also grab a note pad for a great omelet recipe that will be sure to please. Thanks to Melanie Kaye for setting up this interview and for having so many fresh ingredients for brunch at her house. Read More…

   
Youth Brigade

Youth Brigade

Shawn Stern

BYO Records
By on June 18, 2009 at Bovine Sex Club - Toronto, Onatrio

 

 

500 bands 50 venues. That is what Toronto’s North by North East is all about, and this year one of those 500 bands were Southern California Punk Rock pioneers The Youth Brigade. I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with the Youth Brigade’s singer and BYO head honcho Shawn Stern before their 2am performance at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto. Read More…

Strung Out and Pour Habit

Strung Out and Pour Habit

Jordan Burns and Chuck Green

Fat Wreck Chords
By on May 27th, 2009 at The Sound Academy - Toronto, ON

 

 

It was like a blast from the 90’s as punk rock’s staple record label Fat Wreck Chords showcased some new and old bands for this years Fat Tour, at the Sound Academy in Toronto. We decided to try something a little different and include two Fat bands in one interview as legendary Strung Out drummer Jordan Burns and Pour Habit vocalist Chuck squared off to interview each other. This is how it went down. Read More…

NoMeansNo

NoMeansNo

Tom Holliston

Wrong Records
By on April 18th, 2009 at Lee's Palace- Toronto, Ontario

 

 

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The Real McKenzies

The Real McKenzies

Paul McKenzie

Fat Wreck Chords
By on April 4th, 2009 at Horeshoe Tavern - Toronto, Ontario

 

 

With my ears still ringing due to the bag pipes from the Dropkick Murphy’s St. Patrick’s Week celebrations, it was time to hear some more pipes call because The Real Mckenzies were in Toronto to play the legendary Horseshoe Tavern.

I met with The Real McKenzie’s veteran vocalist Paul McKenzie in the what felt to be haunted dark basement green room at the Shoe. Thanks to Melanie Kaye for setting this interview up. Read More…

Street Dogs

Street Dogs

Mike McColgan

Hellcat Records
By on March 9th, 2006 at The Kathedral - Toronto, ON

 

 

In a day and age where many punk rock bands talk about being true to the roots of punk and hardcore, few bands embody the true spirit of bands that came before them like The Clash. I had an opportunity to interview The Street Dog’s prolific lead singer Mike McColgan in Toronto as the Crooked Drunken Sons Tour made it’s stop at the Kathedral. Thanks to Keith from Epitaph for setting this up. Read More…

Dillinger Four

Dillinger Four

Erik, Lane, Billy

Fat Wreck Chords
By on October 9th, 2008 at The Kool Haus - Toronton, Onatrio

 

 

As I get older and keep going to see shows, I can’t help but notice that there are not too many punk rock acts out there that I have yet to see. However there are a few and one of those bands are the elusive Dillinger Four from Minnesota. Many years can pass between albums and they rarely ever tour. So as you could tell I was very excited to sit down with the guys for an interview before their second show on tour opening for NOFX. Thanks to Melanie Kaye from Fat Wreck Chords Canada for setting it up. Read More…