You know you’re in for a treat when the amount of between-song banter is coming more from the crowd than it is the actual performer. Case in point: without uttering so much as a few random song titles, our danger-filled Danes held the wild-eyed audience in the collective palms of their hands (or as was the case with one lucky lady, her face at the end of singer Elias Ronnenfelt’s fist, blood streaming down into her faux-fur top thus turning her into a walking PETA ad). It was incredible to watch Ronnenfelt sway back and forth across the stage, pinball-like, as guitarist Johan Wieth and bassist Jakob Pless served as towering bumpers pushing him back into the fray and drummer Dan Nielsen’s propulsive backbeat being the catalyst for the catharsis unfolding. Granted, they covered plenty of ground off You’re Nothing, from the lumbering set opener “Ecstasy” to the swirling whirlwind of “Coalition”, the death march dirge of “Morals” and the punch-to-the-gut “Everything Drifts,” but also took time to pepper the set-list with a slowed down version of “Remember” that took the rhythm of the song’s bridge to new Fall-inspired heights as well as the lightning fast blast of “Count Me In” from their caustic debut disc New Brigade. It would have been nice to have a bit more back-and-forth with our visiting punk rock pontiff, but he was too busy making a mess of people’s hair and prowling the stage to care. So it goes.
The big surprise was Spectres, local doom ‘n’ gloomers who usually tend to keep a fairly low profile on the scene but blew open the doors on this night with a post-punk powder keg which had more than a few heads bopping including yours truly’s. Singer Brian Gustavson gripped the mic tighter than the noose around the neck of a condemned man as he belted out highlights from their recently released Nothing to Nowhere LP including “Remote Viewing,” “Maison Gris” and “Amnesia”; meanwhile, guitarists Zach Batalden and Tyler Pilling damned the torpedoes and shot salvos of chorus-heavy riffs straight at us as bassist Nathan Szilagyi and an unnamed Sherman tank-built drummer finished us off slow and steady. Where they really struck gold was with a tune that turned the already frenetic pace to a syncopated shuffle that set the dance floor on its ear (as Gustavson bellowed something about searchlights) and ended with a call-to-arms closer called “Our Time” that for me certainly cemented Spectres as a group to keep a eye on more often.
Clown princes of KBD punk B-Lines kicked off the festivities (and kicked beer cans in the faces of patrons) in fine form, churning out some newer material as well as tracks from their self-titled LP like fan favourite and current dance craze “Hastings Strut”, warp speed sound-off “World War Four” and personal pick about the pill-poppin’ pupils of “Psychedelic High School,” which saw lanky bandleader Ryan Dyck pull down the video screen at the front of the stage and proceed to put on a punk rock puppet show for the assembled masses. Unlike the headliners, with the scant amount of pleasantries exchanged between tunes, at least with B-Lines they were well timed and packed a comedic punch. I’ll take my sides splitting over a bloody nose any day, thank you very much.
By Bryce Dunn
Photos: tiina liimu