As luck would have it, similar to about 50% of the shows I go to, I was going to be attending this show alone. Thus, I got there a little early and decided to make the best of it. I went to the legendary Q Bar across from the Kathedral for a couple of pints with some of the colourful inhabitants of Queen Street. However, one of them kept wanting hugs so I decided I would make a hasty retreat.
There was a small crowd of at most 40 people in the Kathedral while the first band was playing. I didn't catch their name because I wasn't there for the whole set and then grabbed another tall boy and some merch. They played a duel guitar melodic punk style with vocal duties shared between members. From what I saw the playing was tight, they had good stage presence and their style seemed to fit well with the rest of the bill that night. This was a solid opener who I wouldn't mind seeing again if I knew their name.
Next up was Attack in Black, and the crowd swelled slightly. I had seen them a few weeks prior with Propagandhi and GFK and thought their somewhat Against Me!-ish sound was a little out of place. Whether it was their fitting in more on this bill or the fact they had played with the same group of bands the night prior, they seemed a lot more comfortable. Although they lack the stage banter of some of the more seasoned bands I've seen, they are still really good at what they do. These guys have a very proficient command of the stage, especially the bassist who I find extremely fun to watch (yes, I am a creep). They opened with "Broken Things;" although it lacks the nice touch of the trumpet live, they played it with so much intensity it didn't even matter. The band also played a new song from their forthcoming full-length entitled something along the lines of Young Leaves. If memory serves me (which it probably doesn't) it was mid-paced and highlighted the band's strengths of melody and vocal arrangements. AIB has found the perfect set-ender in "1950." It packs a lot of energy into the majority of the song but then fades out becoming very vocal dependent; the contrast works to leave quite the lasting impression once the set has long finished.
Soon after I took residence right up close to the stage because the band I mostly came to see was about to come on: Fifth Hour Hero. In my opinion these guys and girl released one of the best albums this year and their most cohesive material as a band. For my third time seeing them it also seemed to be their strongest performance, proving that cohesion. They started the set with "My Sympathies" and proceeded to rely heavily on songs from Not Revenge…Just a Vicious Crush. They had a great rapport with the crowd, due to some funny banter about their yellow shirts and looking for the sound guy only to find he had left partway through the set. The crowd also seemed to be at its height for the night with lots of folks rocking out and singing along. Also played were "Everything I Won't Miss" from the You Have Hurt My Business and My Reputation EP, and "A Map Within" from their split with the Sainte Catherines. It was really great that they played this material because after a band has a few full-lengths under their belt they sometimes tend to neglect their non-full-length material. The highlight of the set for me was "After All Is Said and Done" because it really exemplified the way Genevieve and Olivier have come to support each other with much more fluidity in the vocal department. Aside from some minor technical problems with the vocals being a little low, they gave the performance of the night.
I got somewhat lambasted on this very site for comparing New Mexican Disaster Squad's latest album to being in a similar vein to Strike Anywhere and Kid Dynamite. To this day the only other material I'm familiar with from NMDS is their split with Western Addiction. From witnessing them live I now have to say they are much more of a hardcore punk band with some melodic touches rather than a full on melodicore band. They are a force to be reckoned with live, especially their drummer who is a beast on the skins and as far as drummers go drew my attention a lot more than most. Like Fifth Hour Hero before them they relied heavily on their lastest album, Don't Believe. Either the first or second song they played was "Pulse" and I looked around me at a number of fists in the air and singing along with the lyrics and especially the "whoa-oh"s. It was one of those magical "ahhhhh this is punk" moments. While I enjoyed "Tightrope" on record, seeing and hearing it live transformed the song into something extraordinary and out of any single moment in the show I'd say that is where most of the fist-pumping and rocking out occurred. When they started playing "Bullshit Detector" I was even tempted to start throwing down some ridiculous floorpunches. Thankfully I declined that impulse because live the song translated into much more of a foot-stomping/head-bobbing good time than I expected. A few moments between songs were almost painful to watch for me because the crowd didn't seem to work off of Sam's comments at all. I think you could tell that the band wasn't feeling the vibe of the club (the crowd seemed to get a little smaller during their set even) but the guys gave it their piss n' vinegar all during the songs. The prior bands weren't exactly pit-inducing type of music but NMDS most assuredly were. Although the crowd was gracious with "fuck yea!"s and things of that ilk, no pits were to be had that night. Guess I can't blame people, even I had an excuse that I was alone and therefore wasn't my usual drunken self (I may be a drunk but I'm no alcoholic) and I didn't have anyone to hold my merch. I have many a horror story of trying to bring merch into a pit. It was all just kinds of surprising considering that if Toronto is anything it is these two things: a hockey town and hardcore town.
I was a little upset at first because we didn't get No Trigger on our date but was used to Canadian tour dates having different lineups than advertised. Seeing Attack in Black made up for this by being one of my favourite new discoveries of the year both live and on record. Also, AIB carry on the fine tradition of bands with black in their name. I support the idea more so now than ever of seeing Fifth Hour Hero live if they come to your town because they are a taught, finely oiled machine (plus Dave, Mathieu and Olivier are sexy as all hell). Or if you are thirsting for a real hardcore punk band and your town is in a shortage, definitely check out New Mexican Disaster Squad when they blow through. Now for my attempt at set lists, because I know many a knee will be bruised and tear will be shed if I don't...
Attack in Black's set list (not in order/incomplete):
- Broken Things
- (not sure, I was taking a leak)
- The Love Between You and I
- new song
- Cut and Run
Fifth Hour Hero's set list
(in order and complete):
- My Sympathies
- After All Is Said and Done
- A Map Within
- Everything I Won't Miss
- Playing Politics
- Bruce, Oh My Bruce
New Mexican Disaster Squad's set list
(not in order/incomplete):
- The Piggy Bank's Gone, Nick
- I Don't Believe
- Coughing Up Blood
- The Killing Machine
- Wasting Matches
- Bullshit Detector
- 9 Kinds of Hell (maybe? I know they played a few more)