Gig review and photos by Music Vice editor Brian Banks
Gig/Concert: Every Time I Die w/ The Bronx, Stick To Your Guns, Gone Hollywood
Venue: Opera House, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 4 November 2008
Headliners: Every Time I Die
In one word: Floored
Tuesday, 4 November, 2008, a historic night for America as the votes were being counted that would see Barack Obama win the Presedential Election. Meanwhile, north of the US border, a trio of American bands were their own kind of party at the Opera House in Toronto, with a pulsating night of hardcore punk rock.
If you are regular visitor to Music Vice then you’ll already know what drew me to this show: The Bronx. The last time I wrote about these guys, back in September, I mentioned about how they’d rid me of a bout of gig apathy which had left me in no hurry to see another average band play another average show. The Bronx is no average band. They were second on the bill tonight below Every Time I Die, but once again they stole the show.
“The fast and furious noise was broken up by predictable breakdowns which provided some head-space to stand and contemplate the band’s music, your life and the universe…“
The first band up were local Toronto hardcore rockers Gone Hollywood. Their set was a half-hour of power, as they brought their noise to a supporting local crowd. Muted guitars chugged along, accented with the occasional squeal of a string bend or pull-off, while the singer screamed out lyrics which were for the most part incomprehensible to me. The fast and furious noise was broken up by predictable breakdowns which provided some head-space to stand and contemplate the band’s music, your life and the universe or alternatively just let loose in the pit. During these breakdowns you can actually hear some words, even if they are only echoed shouts of “You, Me, Outside!” There were some good reactions to Gone Hollywood but I couldn’t get into it and soon their set just passed by as a blur of noise.
Stick To Your Guns, a band from Orange County, California, are part of this November Reign tour with Everytime I Die and The Bronx. STYG were much the same as Gone Hollywood – aggressive but forgettable. I heard nothing that made me want to investigate their music further. There was nothing to get me hooked, and this is the problem with so many current bands that get labelled by themselves or others as ‘hardcore’ punk. I’d much rather listen to some classic hardcore like the Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks or Black Flag; basically music with some decent lyrics and good tunes. Or better still, I’d rather listen to a band that are bringing something fresh to a tired genre, and rock music in general… yup, bring on The Bronx.
“People just get pulled in by the hairs-on-your-neck-erect intensity of the music.“
Now, it’s become apparent to me that a lot people have still yet to discover this band for themselves, and as I sat in behind the barrier in the photo pit I heard a girl say to her friends: “Oh the Bronx are on again? Didn’t they already play?” Oh sweet ignorance. Apparently this girl had been confused by the fact that the Bronx’s backdrop banner had been on display since the start of the night. Clearly she, and many others, knew nothing of The Bronx prior to their set, but then they took the stage and once again I witnessed the band win the crowd. People just get pulled in by the hairs-on-your-neck-erect intensity of the music.
Singer Matt Caughtran was on top form again, quickly winning the favour of those in the dark about the band as he screamed out established big hitters like “Heart Attack American” and “Shitty Future” with total aplomb. Some of the new material from the forthcoming Bronx III was also showcased, including the brilliant “Knifeman”. The music is accessible and extremely easy to get into and enjoy, especially when you hear it live. The kids in the crowd got their testosterone-fuelled kicks in the pit, with Matt joining them for one song. Oh yeah, don’t forget about all the lasses – once again Caughtran worked his charm and humour by dedicating “White Guilt” as a “song for all the ladies in the house.” I mean what girl wouldn’t want a song about a LA hooker dedicated to her?
“The Bronx are one of the most important bands around.“
Good tunes, good lyrics, good times. If there is any justice in the music industry then The Bronx will get mainstream success. Their music should be in your iPod, your CD player or whatever you use to listen to your music. You should be wearing their shirt. Get the message? The Bronx are one of the most important bands around.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the headliners. No matter how amazing The Bronx had been, there was no risk of them upstaging Every Time I Die – well at least not in the minds of the few hundred ETID fans that packed the Opera House. ETID had INCREDIBLE support for this show. The crowd were unrelenting in the noise that they threw back towards their idols. Honestly, I never even realised how popular these guys are, and the support they had in Toronto was tremendous. For once I even felt inclined to believe the singer, as Keith Buckley announced to the Toronto crowd that they were the best they’d played to – even saying were better than the band’s hometown of Buffalo.
“ I was floored by the noise of fans singing along to every song.“
The Opera House is a beautiful venue and tonight ETID made sure it was the only place to be. From the first song, “Ebolarama”, to the last, “We’rewolf”, Every Time I Die delivered a 50 minute set which was punctuated with frequent chants by the audience of “ETID, ETID, ETID, ETID!” It was a live-wire performance with the band pulling shapes and leaping around the stage non-stop. I was floored by the noise of fans singing along to every song. Later on, I was up on the balcony looking down and witnessed the awesome sight of a circle pit which had opened up almost as wide as the dance floor. By the end of the set, ETID departed to crys of “one more song!” but the band were done for the night, and the lights came on signalling for people to exit.
An awesome night, but in the aftermath of the gig I still find myself lukewarm to the music of ETID, while I really have to use a lot of restraint to stop myself from raving any more about The Bronx.
© Brian Banks