My work place is fairly close to the venue, so I camped out nice and early next to the door to the club as the bands loaded in and chatted with another show-goer about the Larry Arms / AK3 show I missed a few weeks prior. The doors opened promptly, but the venue went from Holy Joe’s upstairs to Kathedral on the main floor. I didn’t mind too much, except I have still yet to see a show there and it is supposed to be a rather intimate setting.
Around 9 the first band, the Dogs, set up. I didn’t know anything about them, but the singer was wearing a HWM shirt, so I figured they at least had good taste. After an intro by a drunken friend that was a bit too long for me (and judging by the crowd reaction, most other people too), they played a melodic but heavy style of punk with gruff vocals and “rock 'n' roll” style guitar parts, which reminded me a bit of a less enjoyable Grabass Charlestons. The only song they played that really stuck out was entitled something along the line of “I’m Only Happy When I’m Fucking You in the Ass.” This actually got the crowd going a bit and had a hilarious if a bit juvenile chorus. They closed their set by explaining the next song was going to be a cover that would appear on a Leatherface tribute album. I expected them to play something off of Mush or a song off of one of the post-reunion albums. To my surprise I was wrong; they played “Hops & Barley” off of the split with Wat Taylor. It was played respectably with a good amount of flair, much respect for that. They had some major flaws, such as banal stage banter, false starts and the lead singer lacking much stage presence. However, they had some strong points such as entertaining solos and a good choice of cover.
After a short period of time, Fifth Hour Hero took the stage. Let's get this out of the way: Genevieve is quite fetching. Regardless, I caught the end of their set at the Fat Tour last year and was looking to experience the full thing. Genevieve’s vocals have a great deal of power to them without resorting to a growl, and the vocals of Mathieu and Olivier compliment her very well. I wasn’t too familiar with their recorded material before going into the set, but one song that sticks out is “A Map Within.” It was played with an earnest fervour and is pretty darn catchy in its own right. No matter how she looks on stage, the real attraction in Genevieve is the same that lays in that of any good main vocalist and that is the ability to rock out and draw the audience’s attention.
Wasting no time, the Sainte Catherines got their gear ready and proceeded to melt all of our respective faces that night. Front-man Hugo proclaimed how excited he was to be in Toronto but that to him it didn’t look like we were having too much fun. He said that now the fun would begin, and begin it did. They started off with “Confessions of a Revolutionary Bourgeois Part III” and already had a good number of people singing along. During “Burn Guelph Burn,” Hugo stuck the mic into the crowd for the rousing gang vocals of “We’ll burn this place / We’ll burn this place down / We’ll burn it to the ground.” When they played “The Shape of Drunks to Come” (sans Tom Gabel) one of the guitarists took over vocal duties while Hugo jumped into the crowd, as the energy in the room escalated. Before starting one song, Hugo addressed the crowd on the issue of homophobia and basically said that love is love and people should get to marry whom they please. He knelt down to one of the guys in the audience, and though my view was obstructed there was some form of connection to which Hugo said, “that was beautiful” before ripping into the next song. I found this to be really important because society is rife with homophobia and one day I hope it is as unacceptable as racism. Other songs played were “Ring of Fire = 4 Points,” “Hau Weg Die Scheisse,” “Emo-Ti-Cons: Punk Rock Experts” and “I’d Rather Be Part of the Dying Bungee Scene.” They focused on their latest album Dancing for Decadence, which was fine by me since that was all I knew.
As the other bands on the bill, None More Black was fairly quick to set up. I wouldn’t say I’m the hugest NMB fan in the world. I enjoyed File Under Black and the new disc is growing on me, but they don’t find their way into heavy rotation. I must concede that the live setting has breathed new life into the material for me. The guitar playing was spirited, the vocals were passionate and the drums (for lack of an even worse description) were bombastic. The highlight of the set for me was “Banned from Teen Arts." The energy made me wish I had seen Jason in action with Kid Dynamite. Before the band went into “We Dance on the Ruins,” the guitarist made the observation that if the Sainte Catherines’ dancing was indicative of French Canadian dance steps we should just let them separate. This was pretty funny as was the dancing itself I was treated to right in front of me. Picture if you will, for a moment, a fast-paced log drivers dance. Another song that was done a great service live was one of the new ones, “My Wallpaper Looks Like Paint.” I don’t remember much of the rest of the set due to fatigue and French Canadian dancing. During the last or second to last song most of the members of Fifth Hour Hero and the Sainte Catherines got up on stage for a large dance dance-fest, keeping with a fun atmosphere. Colin thanked all the bands on the bill including the opener, which I thought was really classy since oftentimes the headliner won’t even know the name of the opener, let alone thank them.
All in all, the set was a healthy mix of old and new material. Rarely do you get a show where all the bands have at least one thing enjoyable to offer; this show was one of those rare occasions. I was made a fan of Fifth Hour Hero, everything I had heard about the Sainte Catherines’ live show was reaffirmed and None More Black receive my nomination to have a Live in a Dive installment. There was no barriers, no being manhandled by security or cops, virtually no jerks in the small crowd, no age restriction and no rock star attitudes, just the way a show should be. Fantastic show even for someone dead tired like I was.