Concert Reviews

Parkway Drive with August Burns Red at REBEL

Photos by Katrina Wong Shue

 Polson Street Toronto, right on Lake Ontario, has a real feeling of “the docks” or “the warehouse district” or any other general misnomer for a lakeside/seaside city industrial district. There’s big cranes, lots of water something akin to open spaces (for a city like Toronto anyways), and this upmarket warehouse-esque building with a veranda and a marquee stating “Rebel”. Usually a club for large dance parties, EDM shows and sister club to Cabana, one of Toronto’s beach style waterfront clubs, one would usually expect limos, douchebags, high heels, and egos None were in evidence tonight, however, instead there was a long lineup of black-clad and bootstrapped individuals looking out of place amongst the boats and cranes, but unified in their excitement none the less. (However, none of the aforementioned delights were evident. Instead, there was a long line up of black-clad and bootstrapped individuals looking out of place amongst the boats and cranes, standing unified in their excitement.) Why were these wayward individuals congregating in this asinine location? One reason: Metal. Or to be more specific; The Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red, and Parkway Drive.

Walking in, is totally immersive if slightly disorienting moment. Instead of facing the constant thrum and heartbeat of heavy beats and the usual accompanying club sounds, the user is slapped in the face with a brutal bass accompanied by soul rendering screams and guitars tuned so low they make your whole body vibrate. Standing in line for an overpriced beer, an impassioned, pitched scream cuts through the morass of noise and humanity. This is The Devil Wears Prada. Their pitched screams, interspersed with heavily rhythmic sound, punches from the guitars provide an experience of mind hammering joy. The entire room sways and rocks in sympathetic passion. Audience and band committed to the weight of their passion and the joyfully exquisite power of this gathering of like-minded souls. This was Devil Wears Prada, playing numbers from albums ranging from Transit Blues (Their latest) their earliest works and EP’s.


A brief respite during which,

Drinks were bought

Darts were hacked

Friends were made

Hearing returned (sort of)

August Burns Red

After a brief respite, August Burns Red took the stage, blasting us with the lead track on their newest, possibly heaviest album to date. King of Sorrow assaulted our ears in a beatific confusion of volatility and melodic instrumental wondering, that carried us from powerful and brutal verse to verse. Protesting the world and demanding to be heard in a take no prisoners attitude, with a sound to back it up. Jake Luhrs repeats the phrase I Am The King of Sorrow, I am the King of Sorrow in a manner so urgent and forcefully, you are forced to lean in, repeat back and sing with him in unspoken but echoed agreeance. Despite some sound level issues, the band that wrote Levellers had no issues stunning and even leveling any expectations. Rocking us nearly to death with their trademark raw anger and wistfully poetic guitar-based melodies. August Burns Red carefully shepherded the rapt audience both to the point of rage and back again. Leaving the stage with no trace, other than a buzz in our ears, a smile on our faces and the breathtaking experiences found in angry music for happy people.

-Second Intermission-

Fewer darts, more excitement

Park Way drive

The stage was dark, fog abounded out of which appeared a lone figure softly growling;

“I spoke a vow today and asked if God would come and play
I’ve dug a shallow hole for him to sleep
But I swear he just won’t answer me
I call on out, is he afraid?

I’ll bury him down with the ones he keeps
And if the devil is listening, I’ll come for him as well
If I suspect he had a hand to play
And if I see his face in town, there’s room for two down underground
Nothing’s gonna stop me till I’m done”

A brief pause, a blinding white light and a sonic assault like the first blast of the trumpet at Jericho before he blew down our personal walls screaming Until I’m Done! With vicious abandon, Winston McCall lambasts us with a grief of such power it shakes the very heavens. Following this plaintiff grief-stricken verbal assault he pulls us immediately into a visceral rock and roll near spoken word cry sharing with us his anger and desperate need to wrestle with inner demons in Prey. “I Got an axe to grind a crooked mind” pulls the audience in with its bare bones honesty before throwing them back in a whiplash of motion as the ruckus, devil may care chorus leaves the audience teetering on the edge between these two chasms of emotion. Having (temporarily) had enough of their newer work Parkway Drive takes us back to 2007 with the deeply powerful Carion from Horizons. A piece that successfully captures the anger of our youths while successfully forcing it to appear as more adult concerns the epic swinging guitar motif swings us across a vast divide between the heavier and heavier verses only driven forwards by secondary melodies offered up by the guitarists. Throughout this set the audience is repeatedly blasted with blinding white light, a visual refrain to accompany the unrelenting frankness of emotion and power with which their words and music exemplify again and again.

That was Parkway Drive. That was Devil Wears Prada, August Burns Red and Parkway Drive, quite possibly the most perfectly passionate yet raw Metalcore tour of today’s remarkable bands. The Audience streamed out of Rebel with a remarkably buoyant air given the emotional depths of the recent show having just partaken in “Angry Music for Happy People”.