Hello again! Tonight was the second night of North by Northeast; let’s get right into it shall we?
I got to the main stage at Yonge and Dundas Square just in time to see the first band I wanted to see, Fucked Up, and man, these guys put on a crazy show. Frontman and vocalist Damian Abraham (AKA Pink Eyes) steals the show; he’s like a giant bear. Overweight, hairy, bald, and with these insane eyes that dart around maniacally, he’s an intimidating figure, and yet whenever he opens his mouth to talk, he seems like the nicest guy in the world. He spent the first half of the show singing from within the audience, and he wasn’t merely staying close to the stage – he was walking around the entire floor, a stream of moshers following him wherever he went, singing along and even so much as jumping on his back. It’s pretty thrilling. Aside from this, Fucked Up are still the kings of modern punk, with really interesting, intense, and most importantly, intelligent hardcore punk. With only a 40 minute set, they mostly played songs from their latest album, David Comes to Life, with a few older songs mixed in. The band was in great form for their short set, and I wish I could have gone to their headlining set later on in the night at Wrongbar.
Following them was punk supergroup OFF! containing members from Black Flag, Burning Brides and Rocket From the Krypt. These guys are a really energetic hardcore band, but following on Fucked Up is a pretty tall order; I got the impression that OFF! should have been before them, not after. Regardless, it was a fun set.
Finally, the band that I was really going to see, hardcore/pop-punk legends Descendents, took to the stage. I’m not exactly a fan of all of Descendents’ material, but as a punk music enthusiast, I am a fan of their first record Milo Goes to College, which is still one of the best punk albums of all time more than 25 years after the fact. These guys have been around for a long time, breaking up and reforming quite a lot over the years, but the age doesn’t really show all that much. Vocalist Milo Aukerman doesn’t quite sound like he used to; as a man now pushing his 50, it’s no wonder that he doesn’t have the same youthful yell that he did in the 80s. He sort of sounds like Greg Gaffin of Bad Religion now – other than that though, the band was in top form. They played a lot of material spanning pretty much all of their albums, with a bit of a focus on the new material. It was solid; their newer stuff is more like pop-punk than hardcore, so it’s a little bit same-y, and at times a little boring, but not bad by any means. Descendents are a huge influence on modern pop-punk, so it’s no wonder that it’s what they grew into. It’s not terrible, but I prefer their hardcore stuff. They sounded really energetic, but even more so when they were doing Milo Goes to College material, a change that you could see pretty heavily in the audience, who sang along to most everything they played but really went crazy on the older songs. All I’m saying is that with a 40 minute set, they could have played literally all of Milo Goes to College, and still had 20 minutes of newer stuff. Just sayin’. Overall though, the show was great, if not exactly what I was hoping for.
Tomorrow night I won’t be going to any shows, as I’m playing one of my own with my band New Stems (plug: www.facebook.com/newstems). Check back here Sunday morning for a report on Day 4!