Photographs by Angelo Marchini.
There’s a Seinfeld episode where George does the opposite of what his first instinct dictates with surprisingly positive results. It’s a mantra I might run with for 2015 as it worked for me on New Year’s Eve and it worked for me January 8, 2015.
On a blustery winter night, my first instinct would be to curl up on the couch under some blankets and watch mindless television in the warmth and relatively safe confines of my home. Or, I could brave the elements and take a walk to the Opera House to soak in some punk rock from bands I’m not familiar with.
Yours truly ended up opting for the latter and thankful he did. I arrived at the venue just as Harrisburg, PA pop-punk band Handguns were closing out their set. They reminded me of New Found Glory and their energy was like they were performing for a much bigger audience.
I wandered down to the floor in anticipation of the next band, again no idea of their name. I may have even stood in front of this band’s guitarist for Handguns’ final track. I ventured closer to the stage once I spotted the eye candy setting up their gear on stage. In the midst of composing a test, Milwaukee hardcore band Expire exploded and I found myself in the eye of a slam-dancing hurricane!
First instinct was to start crying and hope Superman would swoop in and fly me out of the place, but there was no time to think and I knocked out of the circle pit express to the floor bar. To be honest, this was the most thrilled I’ve been at a gig in ages. Shaken out of the jaded gig goer doldrums, I felt like a teenager again. The band sounded awesome, had immense energy and the brave, sparse crowd on the floor ran with it, whether it be in a swirl or stage-diving, although most had little to break their fall to the floor.
It was hard to decide where to look, whether it be the band on stage, the poor souls hitting the floor or the bodies flying towards you, so I did my best to check out all three.
I’d heard of Winnipeg’s Comeback Kid but never actively listened to them before, but wisely I made my way off the floor. If Expire was a bomb going off in the Opera House, then Comeback Kid was the atom bomb to annihilate the place. Instantly the band and crowd combusted into one aggressive ball of energy. A homecoming of sorts for the band (while now scattered across the country, a couple of members call Toronto home now) the guys unleashed ferocious highlights “False Idols Fall”, “Talk Is Cheap” and even “Wasted Arrows” off of Die Knowing released last year.
Kudos to Worcester, MA’s Four Year Strong for booking such intense openers which would be hard acts to follow for most bands. The most melodic of the three bands, Four Year Strong didn’t seem daunted by the task of following up Comeback Kid and while they were on the anti-climactic side for me, they packed the floor the most. The crowd offered up a choral Happy Birthday to guitarist Dan O’Connor and one immense circle pit toward the end of the set. Otherwise, the band delivered a solid and melodic 50 minutes for their faithful.
Lessons learned from last night: The kids are alright. Sometimes I fear for the future and how anti-social we are becoming, but I can count on three fingers the number of phones I saw raised at any point last night. These kids lived in the moment and had no need to capture it on a device. Aside from one fight, everyone looked after each other and are waking up today happy and bruised. And if the olds can channel that period of George Costanza’s life, they too can have a blast and be impressed that this scene is still going strong.
Thanks to Collective Concerts for media access.