Grade / the Reason

Grade / the Reason: live in Torontolive in Toronto (2006)
Victory Records

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: TheDudeTheDude
(others by this writer | submit your own)

My trip started out Friday morning as three of us packed into the car to head to Toronto to see a band we all grew up listening to and, for one reason or another, never got to see live. This was our chance: the Grade reunion show at The Opera House. Grade was an influential act in their day, as they.

My trip started out Friday morning as three of us packed into the car to head to Toronto to see a band we all grew up listening to and, for one reason or another, never got to see live. This was our chance: the Grade reunion show at The Opera House. Grade was an influential act in their day, as they practically started the whole "screamo" genre of blending hardcore screaming with melodic guitars and emotional singing all mixed into a great style of punk rock. To this day I consider Under the Radar to be a nearly flawless album that should be considered one of the greatest punk rock albums of the late `90s. They created a sound that no one else had at that time and so many bands try to copy now. Grade did it first and they did it best, and we were finally going to see them live. We arrived at the venue just after 8 P.M. to find out that there would be 3 opening bands, then the headliner.

Before any music started to be played, we checked out the merch area. I was surprised to see that Grade was selling anything at all considering they have been broken up for some time now. They were selling two t-shirts, buttons, stickers, all of their albums on CD, and two vinyls. One vinyl was a picture disc of their final album, Headfirst Straight to Hell, and the other was an LP version of their very first release, a split with Believe (these tracks were also included on The Embarrassing Beginning). The first band was finished setting up so we headed towards the front to see what they were all about.

The names of the first two bands eludes me, partly because they never mentioned their names on stage and also because I was semi-uninterested to hear their typical hardcore numbers. There were very few differences between these two bands: very heavy riffs, relatively no melody, and lots of indiscernible screaming. They were pretty good at doing the whole hardcore, almost metal thing, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.

The third band started setting up and we headed down to the main floor to get our blood pumping before the start of Grade. I noticed a keyboard was on the stage, which was a nice sight just because it meant that this next band probably wasn't going to be like the first two bands. I did catch the name of this band, the Reason, because they mentioned it multiple times during their set. They indicated once that some of their influences were Grade and Hot Water Music, but they were a little more emo than those bands mentioned. However, I thought that they had a pretty good sound, despite the whiny vocals. They played one song that they said was the first they ever wrote and you could tell it was heavily influenced by Grade; it could have easily been written by Kyle Bishop. They also mentioned more than once that they were huge fans of Grade and the whole idea of playing a show with the now defunct act was surreal to them. At the end of their set the lead singer told everyone that they better be psyched for Grade, and that he would see us all in the pit.

Next up was the almighty Grade. To give a quick background, they broke up right after the release of their last album, around 2002. Rumors have swirled about the reason for the breakup, many people blaming the lead singer and head songwriter Kyle Bishop for being bossy and difficult to work with. In any event, the band seemed pretty tight on this night; you'd think they had never taken a break. The lights dimmed and four of the members stepped onto the stage as the drummer began an extended intro to "Conceptualizing Theories in Motion," the first song off the album Separate the Magnets. Then Kyle Bishop, with his styled hair and lightning bolt sideburns, stepped up and the show was underway. Grade brought the rock with them and started out with a bang, not letting up for the entire show.

The show was billed as the original lineup from the Under the Radar album, so as you would expect, the set list included almost that entire album, minus a couple songs. I was surprised to hear so many songs from their early album Separate the Magnets as they played every single song off of that album, including the closing track "The Tie That Binds." Kyle even started that song off with the intro chant, "Brothers!! Brothers can you hear me?!" They also played a couple of songs off of Headfirst Straight to Hell and one of the guitarists mentioned that he wanted to thank the guys that played on that album for taking over the empty spots in Grade in order to keep the band going. Overall, I cannot imagine how the show could have been any better. They played nearly all of their best songs with great energy and flawless instrumentation. The entire show was played with the crowd in mind, as Kyle would often jump into the front row or hand off the mic to others to get in on the action. The entire band really seemed like they were enjoying themselves, which made me wonder why they even broke up in the first place. I thought that maybe with this show there would be some sort of rekindling of the flame and they might get back together, but those dreams were dashed with the closing song.

They ended the night by saying that there would be no encore, this was their last song, and then they ripped into the opening track on Under the Radar, "The Inefficiency of Emotion." Included in this closer was an extended bridge in the middle of the song where Kyle sings "Where do you start when you are already in the middle of things?" The crowd continued to chant with every repetition of the line, then they finally burst into the end of the song, with the crowd going absolutely nuts.

Grade then closed out the night by thanking everyone for coming out, and the last line out of Kyle Bishop's mouth was "We were Grade." This final phrase sent all of my hopes and dreams of a true Grade reunion down the tube. I guess there will not be a reunion tour, or even a new album. Maybe the band wanted an official last show that they never got with this lineup. Whatever the case may be, it was an unforgettable night and reassured me that Grade is a timeless band that were setting trends long before any other bands were combining elements of hardcore and emo into an unmatched style of music. They defined a genre and a generation of punk that I will always be proud to be a part of.

Set list (in order by album):

Separate the Magnets

  • Conceptualizing Theories in Motion (opener)
  • Symptoms of Simplifying the Simplistic
  • The Adaptation of Means
  • Life Gets in the Way of Living
  • To Illustrate and Design Parameters
  • The Joy of Stupidity
  • The Tie That Binds
Under the Radar
  • The Innefficiancy of Emotion (closer)
  • For the Memory of Love
  • Seamless
  • The Tension Between Stillness and Motion
  • Victims of Mathematics
  • The Worst Lies Are Told in Silence
  • Stolen Bikes Ride Faster
  • When Something Goes to Your Head
  • Triumph and Tragedy
Headfirst Straight to Hell
  • Little Satisfactions
  • *one other that I can't remember


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (August 3, 2006)

"grade are so overrated it hurts

and the reason sounds like panic! at the disco
it's pretty homosexual"

haha coming from someone who has INFLAMES in their name.

great show,glad i made the trip.

-bryan styles

Anonymous (July 31, 2006)

Grade are so underrated it hurts.


skolarx (July 31, 2006)

kind of hard to tell from the video, did greg taylor play with them? when they started playing detroit a ton it was just after he had left to play full time in jersey. would have been awesome to see him playing with them

mikeinflames (July 31, 2006)

grade are so overrated it hurts

and the reason sounds like panic! at the disco
it's pretty homosexual

Anonymous (July 30, 2006)

No mention of the Reason at all? kind of a weak review. Grade's done, The Reason are on the up and up depending on how their next record turns out.

blake88 (July 30, 2006)

If you like a band from southern ontario you have grade to thank because they are most likely an influence. whether it be silverstein, protest the hero, the reason, boys night out, alexisonfire, moneen, whatever it doesn't matter grade had an impact on them. they are a band that started a genre which even if you are not a band that plays post hardcore you sure as hell have toured with one. grade started it all and they should be commended.

Anonymous (July 29, 2006)

Good call Scott I was thinking the same thing.

ryanbolger (July 29, 2006)

it's a toss-up between grade and marilyn's vitamins as the most important band in the GTA during this era.

i wish i was at this show.

Icapped2pac (July 29, 2006)

God damnit, you made this show sound so good I really wish I would've made an attempt to get there for it. I apparently like "Headfirst..." a lot better than most people, though it was definitely no UTR.

Ever had a UTI? That shit burns.

Anonymous (July 29, 2006)

Haha. In the late 90's, there were so many better screamo bands than this.

maverick (July 29, 2006)

"Wow, if such amazing artists like Silverstein think these guys are worth wasting their money on expensive plane tickets, I should change my mind!"

You're such a fucking cockass, dude.

Nowhere did I say that Silverstein were "amazing." I was pointing out how important Grade were to the Canadian punk/indie scene, that a band currently headlining Warped Tour would go through all the trouble of flying internationally and across the country, probably costing them thousands of dollars, and potentially missing their set at Warped the next day, all for this one band.



Anonymous (July 29, 2006)

Right on man, This show was the tightest and greatest performance I've ever seen. I was able to make the other 'last show' a couple years back and never thought it seemed right. I mean c'mon, they were opening for GOB and the rest of the band was pretty much Somehow Hollow w/ Kyle Bishop fronting them. This time I must say, they did it right. This show was so great because you know that EVERY person in that crowd was a Grade fan and you could just feel the energy. The Under the Radar line-up playing a couple Headfirst songs (termites hollow was the other) was a bonus. Having gone to this show, I feel a sense of closure as a long time fan. Thanks guys

Anonymous (July 29, 2006)

I agree re: Under the Radar. Excellent and amazingly underrated.

Fuzzy (July 28, 2006)

Wow, if such amazing artists like Silverstein think these guys are worth wasting their money on expensive plane tickets, I should change my mind!

millman (July 28, 2006)

this show was amazing, and the other song from headfirst straight to hell was termites hollow, solid review!

homie (July 28, 2006)

Kyle was a bit much to take as a frontman, but Under The Radar continues to be one of my favourite albums ever. And I can't say that I have another "screamo" style album or ever want to hear another one.

I saw them with the Groovie Ghoulies and Mad Caddies in Edmonton. Kyle's prancing and posing took away from their performance but they were still pretty solid.

Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

Great band, even though I pretty much hate this genre of music... I was lucky enough to see them 4-5 times and it was always amaazing, small or big show. Wish I could have been there, I had no idea this was even happening...


Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

I have probably wasted about 2 hours of work today watching this video over and over today. This band is something special. Pleez work out your differences and come back because this is unfuckingreal. That show looked like it was something that u never wanted to wash your eyes again because u will never see anything like it. It looked like the entire crowd was on the stage at the end. So good!

Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

In late '98 my band was booked to play with Grade/Frodus/Refused in a church basement. Needless to say, two weeks before the show Refused broke up, and Frodus dropped out. Despite all this, Grade made the trip and played after us in front of about 40 kids. One of the best experiences/biggest regrets of my life. Funny how that can work out...

_911 (July 28, 2006)

wasn't that tour good riddance/grade/strike anywhere? when it came up to canada it had bane instead of grade. seeing grade open for gob was no way for them to end..

_911 (July 28, 2006)

this was a must see reunion show. it was just so good.

Oskurt_Redwall (July 28, 2006)

Grade, one of my favorite bands of all time, came to Florida shortly before they broke up. I‚??d seen one of their incredible shows in the previous six months or so (when Kyle was sick) but the energy this time was completely different and you could tell something was wrong. Kyle was alone at the merch table and the band was ignoring him. They played with Evergreen Terrace and Good Riddance, which drew a much larger crowd to the front. In fact, there were only a few people near the stage, but I still had to push through when Grade started. Most of the crowd was booing and telling them to get the fuck off the stage ‚?? Kyle‚??s swagger was way too much for this thug crowd. Kyle gave me the mic a bunch of times to belt out some the best lines, but the sound was so horrifically loud that I had a hard time following along. My girlfriend was in the back of the club and only she heard Kyle say, ‚??This song is for my friend Chris.‚?Ě Since I didn‚??t hear it, I couldn‚??t tell you what song it was.

I miss Grade.

Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

holy crap I would have given all the money I own to be at this that breakdown at the end would have been worth a lot of money in my opinion. I miss Grade.

adam (July 28, 2006)

I quite like this site for Canadian concert listings: http://clive.canoe.ca/


Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

Thanks alot man.
I'm there tomorrow night, and so far have only heard about Weakerthans for free at Harbourfront centre.

mikeinflames (July 28, 2006)

hob.ca, ticketmaster.ca, rotate.com, nowtoronto.com, eye.net, pollstar.com, distortent.com, emerge.ca

Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

What's a good site with Toronto show listings?

mikeinflames (July 28, 2006)

the first two bands were arise & ruin and the video dead

Cos (July 28, 2006)

I remember seeing them on tour with Good Clean Fun and Cave-In. I dug it but not enough to buy the CD. Oh well.


maverick (July 28, 2006)

I'm not really a fan of this band, but I saw that YouTube video you linked last week (a friend of mine shot it), and it's very, very impressive and passionate.

It's crazy how much of an impact this band had in the Canadian underground. For example, I know Silverstein had an off-day on Warped Tour the day of this show, and flew across the country to see it before flying straight back to play in Salt Lake City the next day. This band was that important. Kinda nuts.


Anonymous (July 28, 2006)

remember when the singer got dog shit shoved down his throat? and remember how he used to prance around on stage looking like a backstreet boy? that dude is lame as fuck.

chickswithdicks (July 28, 2006)

ahh ok, i read the whole review now.. still odd i never heard about this.

chickswithdicks (July 28, 2006)

what the hell? grade is back? how long was i asleep?

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