By Natalie Zed
I spent the vast majority of Canadian Music Week indulging my misanthropic side, sitting around my apartment in my underwear watching Batman: The Animated Series. By Sunday, it was time to emerge from my cocoon of grumpiness, put on some eyeliner and see what was happening out in the world. I arrived at The Opera House still feeling somewhat sluggish after several days of shunning human contact; I left feeling as re-energized as if I had put my hand on a live wire. If there was a way to replace my morning coffee with the distilled essence of IWRESTLEDABEARONCE, DARKEST HOUR, and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, I would be the most productive (or most horrifyingly manic) person on a planet.
As soon as Krysta Cameron walked on stage wearing a dress designed to look like an enormous furbie, I knew this was going to be awesome. IWRESTLEDABEARONCE has been described as “spastic,” and I can certainly understand how their whiplash-inducing shifts in genre earned them that adjective. Their performance was incredibly high-energy, a quality that characterized all three bands’ performances. Krysta contorted her body on stage with the same merciless ferocity that she contorted her voice. Guitars were flung around bodies like hula-hoops. No song, however viciously intense, was safe from a sudden lounge-attack. IWRESTLEDABEARONCE was fun and fearless and combined a great sense of humour with their avant-garde aesthetic. Any band that performs a song titled “Alaskan Flounder Basket” and sells a t-shirt with the image of a dude in corpsepaint freaking out about breaking a nail on it is alright in my books.
My most-anticipated band of the evening was definitely DARKEST HOUR, as The Eternal Return has been a key component of my early-spring soundtrack. The crowd was buzzing before they took the stage and ecstatic when the lights finally went down. As a long-time admirer of the band, I was pleased as punch by their live performance. DARKEST HOUR is one of those bands that makes me feel as though I am losing control of my body in the very best way possible. Whether they were playing something from their newest album, like “The Tides” or “No God,” or drawing from their impressive catalogue, it felt as though their instruments were plugged directly into my central nervous system. It wasn’t me banging my head or throwing my shoulders into the people around me; it was merely DARKEST HOUR moving through me like an electrical storm.
DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN certainly know a thing or two about theatricality. They took the stage in complete darkness, raising the feeling of excitement in the room from “barely tolerable” to “hyperventilation.” They played their set with the stage sparsely lit by a few harsh white lights, which allowed the band members to step forward and suddenly be starkly illuminated, or step back and disappear. Their sound filled every inch of The Opera House with an intensity that seemed to set my entire skull vibrating. DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN were merciless performers, never letting the audience relax for a moment. Not only did their wicked on-stage energy hold everyone rapt, but so did the possibility that at any moment Greg Puciato might dive directly into the crowd and continue to perform while crowd-surfing.
I woke up the day after this show feeling like I’d been worked over with a pipe. I was sore as hell, nearly deaf, and had been kicked in the head by the headliner’s frontman – all signs of a highly successful night.