After the announcement of this year’s Polaris Prize short-list (mediocrity incarnate save for Fucked Up and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan), I was hurting for some real, honest punk fuggin’ rock. Thankfully, the Refused/Off! show at Metropolis on Saturday night provided more than enough ballast to knock that dog-and-pony show out of my noggin.
Although it was obvious that the younger crowd was there for the headliners, Off! put in an electrifying set that covered most of their new self-titled record and their stack of seven-inches.
The punker-than-thou set may scoff at their “hipster hardcore,” but this was just perfect punk rock played with teeth-gnashing intensity. Given that Black Flag’s 1979 classic, “Nervous Breakdown,” may be punk’s most shining moment — featuring the caterwaul of Off!’s Keith Morris, natch — I couldn’t help but get chills as he proved that though his dreadlocks may be greying, the icon is still brimming with piss and vinegar.
The recently reunited Refused made up for lost time and absolutely killed with a set-list that didn’t veer too far from their 1998 classic, The Shape of Punk to Come. After a 12-year hiatus, the band was hardly going through the motions here, coming at you right from the heart. Sure, their obvious influences (Fugazi, Snapcase, Quicksand) were still showing through, but if you didn’t get goosebumps during “New Noise” in their second encore, you’d better check your pulse. Promising to disband once again at the end of their current tour, this pack of Swedes can rest assured that their legacy will remain ironclad.
If you missed this night of punk rock history, fear not. There are some great shows happening this week that will put the sweat on the walls of your favourite watering holes.
Monday – Tonight, you’re definitely going to want to try and snatch up the few remaining tickets for Liars, with Montreal’s adopted son Cadence Weapon at la Sala Rossa. Although Liars’ new electronic direction on WIXIW leaves me a little cold, the band’s penchant to challenge even their most ardent fans — while perpetually lunging forward and pushing boundaries — still wins a place in my charred and callous heart.
Thursday – Don’t miss Montreal’s unsung stars of sludge, Squalor, at Casa del Popolo on with TuffCookie and the aptly titled Rockhard. Squalor’s instrumental beat-down would easily go large in any U.S. metropolis, but is treading water in Montreal’s tepid pop pool. Show up and support these bold bands that chose to swim against the current of local tastemaker!
It’s a stacked Thursday indeed for those who dig the heaviosity, with what could turn out to be the doom show of the year at Il Motore: Hammers of Misfortune and Gates of Slumber, with local support from Xothogua.
Saturday – The debut of ex-U.S. Bombs/L.E.S. Stitches/Jerk Appeal guitarist Curt Gove’s new band, Walk of Shame, happens at Barfly, with support from the Lovely Haze and DJ Colt 45. After years of delivering the low-slung Gibson barrage for a plethora of punk bands, Gove is finally stepping up to the mic for the first time. If their recent demos are any indication, expect Nils-level songwriting skills topped with some Johnny Thunders sleaze.
Current obsession: Father John Misty, Fear Fun