The Gothic Arches have to be one of the most interesting places to see live music in Atlantic Canada, if not the country. The old church, situated in downtown Saint John has been turned into a venue with amazing acoustics, tones of beauty, and plenty of old-school charm. A large number of bands are swinging through Saint John to play all-ages shows, the latest being Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats and Attack in Black.
Attack in Black got things started, taking the stage to a crowd that actually showed up early enough to take in the openers. Each of the bands on the bill were different from one another, but Attack in Black are certainly a large stretch from the headliners. Nevertheless, the kids were into the Welland, Ontario four-piece. They played the bulk of their upcoming Dine Alone Records debut, Marriage. Attack in Black have grown exceptionally since their demo days. No longer relying on hardcore by the numbers, the band has come into their own playing music much like the Constantines with a bit more swagger. Highlights of their set included "Young Leaves" and "Northern Town." While people who hadn't heard the band since they first poked their heads out of their small Ontario town might have been dissapointed with the change the band has undertaken, they weren't present at the show. Attack in Black managed to get the most jaded scene kids clapping their hands, and you couldn't hope for much more than that.
Ever since the Cancer Bats swung through New Brunswick on the heels of their demo playing 15-minute sets that included two covers, they've been coming back to increasingly larger crowds. While Alexisonfire was headlining the show, there was no question that the Bats had more than their fair share of fans coming out. As can be expected, they put on one of the most energetic shows the Arches' stage has held with lead singer Liam Cormier taking plenty of time to engage the crowd and keep people amped. As big as the Cancer Bats sound on a stereo, they've simply massive live. Watching them play, it's hard to believe they've only got one guitar player as Scott Middleton lets out his metal roots and simply shreds. Cancer Bats mostly focused on thier debut album, Birthing the Giant, but brought out one new song. Songs that got the biggest reaction from the crowd were "100 Grand Canyon," "Grenades" and "Shillelagh," all of which encourage a ton of singing along.
Alexisonfire are easily Canada's darlings of post-hardcore. They hadn't been to the east coast in some time and the response they got from the crowd suggested they were dearly missed. The last few times they came through, Dallas Green's vocal chords were in disrepair, forcing the band to leave out his parts of the songs. This time, however, he was in full health and the 12-15-year-old girls loved it. Say what you will about the band's image or fanbase, though, and you're still left with one of the best Canadian post-hardcore bands playing music today. The songs from their latest album, Crisis sound as though they were made for a large stage and huge stacks of speakers. While Crisis and the band's second album Watch Out! got the most attention, Alexis did play ".44 Love Letter" from their self-titled debut. During the last song of the night, "Accidents," white lights filled the room as streamers were thrown through the air. While it sounds cheesy as hell, it was a fantastic experience to take part in.
It's refreshing to see a tour with three homegrown acts come through and stir up as much excitement as any other bands could.