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COUNTERPARTS at UNITE & IGNITE FEST ’13 – Ottawa Live Review

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Who: Counterparts

From: Hamilton, ON

Where: Unite & Ignite Fest 2013 at the Montgomery Legion, Ottawa

When: Saturday, December 7th, 2013

Total Score: 9.5/10

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Style:  Hardcore that leaves you two-stepping for more. With melodic riffs, explosive drumbeats and raw vocals, Counterparts are a force to be reckoned with in the heavy music scene.  Because of profound, relevant lyrics, their following is staggering; relatable hardships that let listeners channel anger through the music.  In a genre that is being done by a myriad of bands, Counterparts has a sound that stands out among the others. Complex song writing, riffs and transitions flow into a masterpiece of the melodic hardcore sound.

Crowd:  With a diverse crowd on hand for the variety of bands on day two of UNITE & IGNITE, anticipation fostered until the time had come for headliners Counterparts to jam.  Even while the band was setting up fans were trying to get as close to the stage as possible to get a spot in the middle of the chaos that was sure to ensue, also trying to peek at the prominent band’s gear and setup.  As the band got ready to play vocalist Brendan Murphy grabbed the microphone and did his sound check. A murmur from the crowd rippled throughout the venue, the tension of the building excitement was about to reach its tipping point.  Murphy addressed the crowd then announced that the band would be playing the single of their new album The Difference Between Hell and Home titled “Witness”.  The hard-hitting tune starts off with Murphy screaming the lyric, “Expose me for all that I am,” and as soon as those words left his mouth pandemonium broke out in the crowd.  Arms and legs flailing everywhere, kids bouncing off the walls going side to side, circle pits, hardcore dancing, pushing and moving bodies shook the basement room of the Montgomery Legion.  The energy was contagious and the band used it to fuel the intimate performance as they are used to playing much bigger venues. The energy was upheld throughout the entire set with a multitude of hits that Counterparts has to offer keeping the crowd rowdy and emotional until the end of the night.

Technicalities: The five-piece band from Hamilton, Ontario had been through an emotional rollercoaster over the past few nights. The remaining members had heavy hearts because of the recent departure of guitarist Alex Re. The Friday before Re had played his last show with the band in their hometown. Moving forward, Adrian Lee is temporarily filling in for Re. Unknown if he is to be the permanent replacement; Lee was a perfect fit, as he did not miss a beat and kept up with the high energy the band brings to the stage. Other guitarist Jesse Doreen and bassist Eric Bazinet accompanied Lee to shred the unique heavy melodic tone into the welcoming ears of the crowd. Kelly Bilan kept up the high pace and energy of the set with his impressive impulsive drumbeats and super loud snare, while Murphy did his thing: owning the stage and interacting with the crowd as the audience screamed his lyrics right back in his face. Counterparts are a tight technical band that brings a new element to melodic hardcore.

Image/Sex Appeal:  Laid back, hockey loving, music playing, funny individuals who are sure to show you a good time. Counterparts portray an image that fits right into the hardcore scene, tattoos and band merchandise a-plenty. The band’s stand out factor is their approachability. Interacting with the many fans that showed up to the venue, it was easy to see how appreciative Counterparts are of their fan base, as well as avoiding the pitfalls a rock star personality. With the vibe that they were no better then the people that watch them play, Counterparts humbly make their presence known in the music scene.

Memorable Moment:  During “Only Anchors” there was a special guest vocalist that definitely caught the crowd by surprise. Due to the nature of the show being more intimate than Counterparts are used to playing, they decided to have a little fun with their set. Their big burly merch guy motioned to Murphy for the microphone and to his surprised grin he received what was asked for. He belted a few lines of the song to the crowd before returning the microphone back to Murphy to continue the set.  A gimmick that brought a little humor and light heartedness to their performance was well received by the band and the crowd alike.

Overall:  Counterparts definitely live up to the hype that follows their name.  In a genre that is currently dominating the music scene, Counterparts has a sound that separates them from getting grouped together as “just another melodic hardcore band.” With a fan friendly attitude, this band is very relatable with their music and lyrics but also through personal experiences.  Their live set is absolutely phenomenal with crowds following them wherever they choose to play a show.  If Counterparts are coming through your town soon don’t sleep on grabbing a ticket, you will not be disappointed.  With three full length albums under their belt, as well as a split EP, an ever loyal fan base and a talent and love for the music they play, it seems evident that Counterparts has no where to go but up.

Reviewed and written by Jonathan (Jono) Del Pozo

Photos by Matthew Clark

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