By Brendan Lee
July 29th, 2017
VANCOUVER – When you’re twelve thousand kilometres from home, at the acidic end of a three-month long string of tours that spanned four continents and forty plus shows, and a quick peak into the future foresees much of the same for as far as your bloodshot eyes can muster, it may, possibly, be understandable to, you know, take one measly night off.
Come on, Northlane. It must have been tempting.
On Saturday, July 29th at Vogue Theatre, for a final night together, progressive metalcore acts Invent Animate, Intervals, and Northlane, bombarded the stage with a show nothing short of pure energy.
The night was the final Canadian date for the Aussies in Northlane, and just another step ahead in an ongoing, world domination tour supporting the band’s transcendental new album, Mesmer – a collection of songs that showcase a sort of musicianship vibrating with the ability to entrance in melody and, at the same time, shatter bones with raw heaviness.
Co-headlining the show with Northlane was the Toronto-based, instrumental groove-meisters, Intervals, preceded by Invent Animate, a longhair fronted wall of sound out of Port Neches, Texas. After an hour or so of anticipation, the wooden floor sticky with spilt Pilsner and the room beginning to fill but nowhere close to capacity, Invent Animate emerged from the dark and began the night’s sonic debauchery. The band bounced heavy guitar riffs that weaved singer, Ben English’s, soul-scraping screams and strained clean vocals up and down in a way that made the whole set seem unified. The songs may have all sounded similar, but the dreamlike guitar interludes matched with the riotous energy and passionate stage presence of English, kept the audience bobbing their heads and slamming bodies into one another for the duration.
Intervals brought forth a reprieve from the heaviness that preceded them and followed with a set that was about as technical as it was fun to dance to. The band played a mix of old and new songs that had the mosh pit going at times, while, at others, left no option but to raise hands and shake hips like mom and dad at a Santana concert. The set culminated in a skin tingling rendition of what might be the band’s most complete song, ‘Libra’, that ended with the theatre of people in recovery mode after a final guitar solo lifted the place from its foundation.
After a brief thirty minutes of downtime, lights dimmed once more to frenetic cheers and, finally, the five silhouettes of Northlane emerged veiled under blue-tinted darkness. With the force and outright presence of what could have been the premiere show on the first night of a brand new tour, the band managed to tear a tiny hole in the fabric of time and space, and for the next 45 minutes, the crowd lost themselves in there.
The set began with ‘Paragon,’ a new song that builds from ambient electronic static to a breathless drop of low, heavy guitar that swings and circles beneath singer, Marcus Bridge’s, blood evaporating screams. With each subsequent song, the band showed off an unmatched diversity, smashing through old heavy jams like ‘Dream Awake’ and ‘Dispossession,’ and then changing pace with the lighter, more radio-friendly but equally technical song, ‘Solar.’
Above the smash of bodies and behind the flashing strobe of yellows, reds and blues, the group of five wailed on their instruments and screamed each beat with a godlike perfection. It would be overly critical to say that Bridge missed a single note.
11 songs later and a mosh pit full of missing hats and shoes, bruised bodies and sweat soaked t-shirts, the band played one last song. With a life spent on tour, sleeping in vans, surviving off fast-food diets while seemingly stranded in a country thousands of miles from home, it might be easy to forget the reasons why you take the stage each night. To take a day off, to walk out beneath the bright lights and give the crowd a fraction less than your everything.
But for many of the bruised and battered diehards who screamed each word from the bottom of the pit, the concert means so much more than a simple night spent out with friends. For some, the concert could be the best night of a shitty week or the light at the end of a pitch-black month. Heck, it might even be the best night of their lives.
The guys in Invent Animate know this. The wizards in Intervals certainly get the picture. And if the weary but goofy smiles of relief at the end of the set on Bridge and the rest of the band’s sweat-sheened faces is any indication, no matter how hard the grind pushes back, they won’t forget the reasons they stand where they stand for one show, one song, not even one single shining moment.
Next up for Northlane? Mexico. Europe. The rest of the world.
Better rest up.Intervals, Northlane, The Vogue Theatre