After everyone stumbles back to their tents, Air bnb’s or hotels to get some sleep and recharge a bit, it’s time for day two. Of course, not without the help some good ol’ poutine and egg breakfasts, and maybe a couple Gatorades.
This year’s second day may not have been quite as invigorating and intense as the first, but with the heat being upwards of 30 degrees throughout the day, the rest was needed- not to say that it didn’t compare sonically and energetically. Although the day was tamer, the energy in the crowd didn’t change for a second, nor that Montebello vibe that you can’t really put into words. Festival-goers lined the streets as early as 8 a.m. in search of food and drinks, listening to distant sound checks in anticipation of the day to come. After breakfasts and recoveries were had, the festival grounds once again flooded with hundreds of thousands of music lovers.
Guttermouth and Streetlight Manifesto opened up the Budweiser stage. Streetlight’s energy powered vocals, upbeat horns, and all around feel-good ska music got the crowd fueled up, throwing their legs around and dancing their hearts out. The seven-piece band hit the same stage two years ago and came back with the same big smiles, wicked attitudes and a performance full of fun.
While the day was untouched by disappointing performances, the Budweiser stage did have its own letdowns to offer. Lamb of God always puts on an unreal performance, but the headbanging came to a 10-15 minute halt about midway through their first song. The stage’s technical difficulties did the opposite of losing the crowd’s attention though, and it had Randy Blythe even more amped up after the issues were resolved. Triumphantly going straight back into their set, Lamb of God was without a dull moment. Shaking speakers, crowd surfers galore, a mosh pit not to be reckoned with, and Blythe’s dreads going every which way. Being one of the only metal acts this year, with a name to match their status in the metal community, Lamb of God had fists pumping front to back, left to right, with a crowd packed up almost all the way back to the festival entrance. Blythe is a phenomenal performer, with a stage presence that continuously blows my mind. Beginning to end, the seasoned metal rockers had the crowd completely involved and did not let their set run short because of the technical difficulties. Fans were actually graced with an extended set, seemingly in protest of the machines robbing them of the beginnings of their performance.
Ice Cube was a highly anticipated name this year, and while it was an absolute nightmare to try and get an even relatively nice picture of the set, it was epic to see Ice Cube live. Smoke clouding the air and lyrics being chanted aloud, it would not come as a surprise to see his name reoccur in years to come.
In the three years that I’ve been attending Rockfest, not once have I heard the festival tell the crowd to calm down. Limp Bizkit has been around for 20 plus years, but they still have such a strong following that even the security guards were getting themselves extra prepared for the show. It was so packed that people were lined up behind the fences of the entrance gates trying to get a view of
the stage. Fred Durst has quite the distinct look to him, even some photographers were flinching as he threw water bottles to the crowd. Durst threw himself around the stage, toured left to right across the front row, and went into the crowd a few times to give the fans an up close and personal performance. At one point Durst was actually atop the crowd, held up by screaming fans.
Headlining such an enthralling festival with so much energy and so many anticipated acts is a large spot to fill. While the organizers have a lot to do with ever so perfectly scheduling Rise Against as the headlining act on closing night, the band filled the slot in a way that could not have been foreseen.
Through weathered voices and tired fists, the size of the crowd for Rise Against did not simmer. Their message is clear, their music is beloved, and the only real way to describe their stage presence with the utmost diligence is to say that it’s almost a live version of when you spend that moment alone, with your headphones in, or in your car, searching to find bliss in their music.
Rockfest 2016 was somewhat of a reflection, or even a live reminiscence of the past 20 years. The outcome of which tremendously represented belief, courage, standing together, and remaining strong through the fiercest struggles.
Another year of Amnesia Rockfest shenanigans has come and passed, and what a year it was. The 11th edition of Montebello, Quebec’s two day festival was jam packed with hugs, tears, fights, and couriously enough, a panda suit here and there.
This year was especially a treat for anyone who identifies with the music of the 90s. Bands like Sum 41, who most never (like myself) thought they’d ever get to see on stage again, and The Used, treated fans to energy filled sets that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
The first day was a force to be reckoned with. A day that I can honestly say, only had a couple disappointments, which unfortunately, both go to the members of Blink 182. Travis Barker having to cancel his solo set was quite disappointing, but seeing such a beloved band (Blink 182) put on such a disappointing set in the headlining slot, was far more dispiriting. While many Blink fans are accepting of Matt Skiba of Akaline Trio taking the place of Tom Delonge, supporters still expect to see a lively set when they head out to one of their shows. This was nothing of the sorts. Skiba was not charismatic with the crowd on any level, and the connection between him and Mark Hoppus was non-existent. Although Barker put on his usual high-powered performance, it did not pull away from the lack of emphasis put forth by the frontmen. Despite the lack of energy and enthusiasm, it’s always great to hear Blink 182 play live, and there were just as many pleased crowd members as there were disappointed, if not more.
The amount of bands to see on the first day of Rockfest 2016 had people running from one stage to the next, not wanting to miss a moment. The day started off with an astoundingly dynamic set by the Creepshow. The crowd was just as involved with the set as the band was with the crowd, and what else could you really ask for to kick off such an electric festival?
Other highlights of the day were sets from Against Me!, The Used, Mustard Plug, Sum 41, Billy Talent, and Korn. Laura Jane Grace brought a unique, wild, and incomparable performance to the Budweiser stage mid-day, with a presence to match the scorching heat. Against Me! has a way with their fans, and there is no mistaking the chemistry between bandmates there. Thrashing through their hits, old and new, they connected with the crowd to the point where you could see tears running down faces from left to right.
Unsurprisingly, the only band to leave the stage in shambles, throwing instruments array and jumping around like crazy, was The Used. Celebrating 15 years, the band was clearly ecstatic to be in the presence of so many loyal fans. A circle pit competition was inevitable, but they also stopped mid-way through their set to tell the crowd to be thankful for what they’ve got, take care of each other, and give the person beside them a hug. Looking out onto a crowd of drunk, sweaty music fans hugging it out after throwing each other around in a mosh pit is almost descriptive of the festival itself.
Of course, Brampton’s Billy Talent, never disappoints. The band is known for getting the crowd wild, and who could be surprised with Benjamin Kowalewicz’s energizer bunny-esque live persona.
Another Canadian favourite, Ajax’s Sum 41, came back with a vengeance. After years apart the band came to the stage with a couple new members, but the same outstanding, adrenaline fueled act. Die-hard fans were lined up long before the show, and the crowd was seemingly entranced. With all of the trials and tribulations that the band has faced over the past few years, people could not have been happier to welcome them back to the stage, and it was more than evident that the band was just as ecstatic to be back. Deryck Whibley overcame a serious addiction to alcohol, survived organ failure, and came back to give us his all on stage. What a recovery it was too, it’s quite the inspiration to see such a miraculous turn around for a man who had such a heavy influence on a generation.
All in all, day one of Rockfest 2016 was a blast from the past, a nostalgia filled trip through the sounds of an extremely angsty generation. Crowd surfers were a plenty, fists were pumping, and the screaming fans must have been audible from three towns away.
Thankfully, a band named LETDOWN makes music that most certainly isn’t a letdown. And for music lovers that miss the punk rock of the early millennium, LETDOWN’s sound is comparable to that from Sum 41, The Offspring, and Blink-182.
Blasting into the eardrums of audiences across Canada comes The Bottom, the second EP from Oshawa natives Matt Wilson, Jake Otto, and Ryan McMaster. Released earlier this year, The Bottom is filled with loud and energetic music, and the heavy-hitting lyrics crash unapologetically into listeners’ eardrums.
Although the tracks are rather short, each of the four songs showcases the overwhelming musical talent that Matt, Jake, and Ryan each possess. Similar to the music on their previous, and debut, EP Skin + Bones, fans can expect the typical speaker-blowing guitar and drums. However, underlying the usual punk rock sound, some influence of metal occasionally bleeds through, creating a dynamic and interesting sound.
Beginning with “Deficiency” the album explodes to life. The infectious rhythms and melodies will worm their way into your mind. And featuring oddly insightful lyrics, “Deficiency” feel like an anthem for those who have learned to accept their shortcomings and ignore the harsh critics in the world, both external and internal. “Placement” and the title track “The Bottom” are similar to “Deficiency” in their melodies and themes, but by doing so LETDOWN created a unifying message of hope and perseverance throughout the album.
However, “I’m Not Complex, I’m Just From One” stands alone and is heavy on the punk influence. This track breaks away from the melodies featured in the others. Not without the occasional F-bomb, the lyrics are full of encouragement and wisdom. Appealing to those who work hard to better themselves and toil everyday on the road dream fulfilment, “I’m Not Complex, I’m Just From One” is a punk song that we can all relate to.
After already having completed an American tour in January and with many other dates on the horizon this year is promising to be busy for LETDOWN. Check out their social media pages for updates and live shows near you. In the meantime, be sure to listen to The Bottom.
Heart Attack Kids at Handlebar – CMW 2016 Live Review
When: CMW May 6, 2016
Where: Handlebar (159 Augusta Ave)
Total Score: 7.6
Visual/Sound Presentation: 8
Stage Presence: 7
Music Ability: 8
Crowd Reception: 8
Wow Factor: 7
Every CMW, there are a handful of gems you wish you didn’t miss, and Heart Attack Kids release party at Kensington Market’s favourite hole in the wall tops this year’s edition. The London based garage punk duo is the latest pride and joy of Toronto punk rock label Underground Operations for good reason. The barely legal pair being an outstanding example of a beloved genre reincarnated in a new generation of music that stands as tall on its own as it is true to its roots. Goodbye 2000s pussy punk; hello Heart Attack Kids.
With more amps on stage than there are members in the band, the midnight set was a perfect blend of pedal fueled guitar wizardry and headbanger hooks that stick for days. The immediate and relentless buildup of energy quickly carved out a small stage-front mosh pit with at least one diehard occasionally stepping up to scream lyrics nose to nose with singer/guitarist Jared Ellul. Behind Jared, sweat soaked drummer Nathan Stock was a legit beast on the kit, holding the crowd’s attention by the balls from start to finish.
There really are no words that could justify this band better than hearing and seeing it for yourself. Check out their freshly released debut record No Future (personal favourites: “Platonic Love Bomb” and “Eh Ok”) on Spotify and grab a sexy blue vinyl at www.undergroundoperations.com.
By: Lisa Granger
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Three-piece Letdown released their second EP titled The Bottom yesterday. The four tracks fall somewhere between grime and pop punk with upbeat melodies and occasional breakdowns, building on a sound laid down by the band’s first release in March of 2015, Skin+Bones. The boys are currently leaving a little bit of Oshawa all over North America as they tour through the U.S. with the final two dates closing out the run in Montreal and Ottawa. Listen to the album above and check out the full list of tour dates below!