Are you trying to tell me you don’t want to hear my main beef about the Kathedral? Well, here it is anyways: They only serve Guinness in a can (what kind of person does that?). So I had to get there early to go down the street a buy a few pints so I could taste the good stuff before the improperly tasting, canned disappointments to follow.
The show started rather early (around 6:30) and Hostage Life was the first band to play. They have become sort of the local go-to band for opening melodic punk shows with their nifty `77-inspired sound. By this time the Kathedral had filled nicely, at least a lot better than it usually does for most touring bands. The band rocked through their set, and they had a decent following with the crowd. Last time I saw them I recall Colin flipping off the crowd and being a little nasty. While being nasty is well and good (I like it nasty), seeing them slightly more upbeat was a treat with them all playing off of each other nicely. Since I first reviewed their debut full-length here it has grown on me a lot more, some highlights of the set including “Sons of Hostage Life” and “This Song Was Written by a Committee” off of that album.
In between the sets I was in the pisser and who should I run into but every young lad's wet dream: Dr. Dan Yemin! I’ve heard he was a super nice fellow and I must say he really was, chatting with a geeked-out fan about Toronto hardcore and Lifetime’s latest release whilst in the company of urine-soaked floors.
After I regrouped with my companions I decided to move to the front of the stage for the Draft’s set. I sadly had never seen Hot Water Music play live even though they were touring fiends so I was particularly stoked to see most of them perform. The band opened up with my personal favourite off of their debut, “New Eyes Open.” The strange thing was the crowd response in general. Although there was a bunch of other voices rising with my own it was a rather small denomination of people, and often time my fist was in the air was by itself…lonesome, lonesome fist. I could see in these guys why HWM was such a cherished band in a live setting. Chris was dripping with sweat as he belted out the tunes, Jason’s basslines sounded better than ever as he used his stage space like a true showman, George was pounding the skins harder than a guy named Bubba with a cherry brown-eye staring at him in Kingston penitentiary and Todd sounded great live on the backups. Something did eventually get a more enthusiastic response from that crowd and that was the announcement they were unexpectedly going to play their Replacements cover of “Little Mascara.” Gotta say it made me kinda hard, gotta say. The crowd was filling up even more and cheered and clapped graciously and the band thanked them for this because it was their first Canadian show. Since I’ve had some time with In a Million Pieces, it has really developed a special place for me. I think through their live show the Draft will continue to carve out such spaces in people's hearts, even those that are still wimpering about HWM. Personally, I was expecting them to be more drunk, but other than that expectations were met, although I would have liked to catch up with one of them to find out if that fabled Samiam split is ever goning to happen.
Lifetime? More like Live-time, amirite? Wow. Anyways, by the time Lifetime were setting up it was the most packed I had seen the venue without a ska band in sight. I’ll admit right now I’m a fanboy and have been waiting years to see Lifetime but because of this fact I had a lot of expectations riding on this set. The band opened up with “Northbound Breakdown” from their self-titled album. With its contagious chorus it is as perfect a set opener as I could imagine. The crowd was all fists and shouting along from the first note. The next song they played was a crowd favourite and one of their best, “Turnpike Gates.” This got the crowd into a frenzy of stage dives and broken bottles, and I was singing along to every word. I’m pretty sure at this point Ari got knocked to the ground and was singing on the floor and bounced back up. I’ve heard slanderous tales that Ari Katz is a boring frontman, but on this night, my friends, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. The show-stealer had to be Dan though as he jumped around everywhere and sang into the crowd. The rest of the band was all smiles and charisma, coming up and engaging the throws of finger-pointers. The songs they played had a nice, even distribution throughout their last three full-lengths (I’m still absorbing the new one), the highlight to me being “(The Gym Is) Neutral Territory.” The band closed their set with “Ostrichsized” as I think they often do, which is fitting because it is perhaps their best sing-along and a great way to leave the crowd wanting more. And more we did want as they returned to our eager chants to play “Cut the Tension” and “25 Cent Giraffes.” I stumbled onto the stage to give hugs and farewells but the crowd still hadn’t had enough so they returned to play one more song. I tend to fall all awkward and fast like a clump of semen when I try to jump so I didn’t stage dive and instead just crouched down at the front of the stage with another lad. Ari asked the crowd what they wanted to hear; I asked him to play “Isae Aldy Beausoleil” and he gave me a funny look and laughed and shook his head. I was so dejected that he didn’t want to play it I damn well forgot what they did end up playing, I think it was “Bringing It Backwards”(anyone who was there help me out?).
Sure, there would have been songs I would have rather heard than others (“Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey,” “Isae Aldy Beausoleil,” “All Night Long” would have all hit the spot) but all in all it was one of the best shows I’ve been to. Sure, you could try saying Lifetime isn’t important or that they suck and are only in it for the money. However, the room full of Canadian kids shouting along with me to the short, broken and beautiful songs from this little band from New Brunswick, New Jersey begs to differ.
The Draft’s set list (not in order, might be missing a song or two):
New Eyes Open
Let It Go
song from 7”, I don’t know which brah
Little Mascara [Replacements cover]
Not What I Wanna Do
Lo Zee Rose
Lifetime’s set list (per album):
Rodeo Clown (4th song)
Daneurysm (7th song)
Irony Is for Suckers (11th song)
(The Gym Is) Neutral Territory (13th song)
Knives, Bats, New Tats (15th song)
Ostrichsized (17th song)
Jersey’s Best Dancers
Turnpike Gates (2nd song)
The Boys No Good (3rd song)
The Verona Kings (5th song)
The Truth About Lars (8th song)
Young, Loud, and Scotty (10th song)
Cut the Tension [1st encore]
25 Cent Giraffes [1st encore]
Bringing It Backwards (?) [2nd encore]
Northbound Breakdown (1st song)
Just a Quiet Evening (6th song)
Haircuts & T-Shirts (9th song)
12th song I don’t remember (either "Song for Mel," "Spiders in a Garden," or "Yeems Song")