By Natalie Zed, Photos by Laina Dawes
Autumn changes my tastes. The air cools and suddenly I find myself craving richer foods, warmer clothes and more complex metal. My auditory palate becomes tuned for something sludgier, dirtier — grimed with hardcore — music that conjures colder nights and wood smoke. This line-up — Weedeater, Saviours, Bison B.C and Fight Amp — suited that mood perfectly.
Fight Amp were very much aware of their position as an opening band, which served as both a benefit and detriment. They were definitely more subdued than at their last Toronto performance, and I found I missed their manic, angry energy. They were respectful and charming, however, and had plenty of self-deprecating banter, informing the crowd that, “as the opening band, it is our fucking duty to make you listen to us tune.” They did retain their impressive presence on stage while keeping their set relatively light and fresh. They played a new song, “Thankless,” which was quite good and stood out. I also really enjoyed hearing “Shallow Grave” live, but their aesthetic is more suited to small, hot, dirty rooms than Lee’s.
Bison B.C. played what was unquestionably my favourite set of the night. They gave a heavy, stomping, thunderous performance that got my heart rate up and held me rapt. Their sound translated beautifully to a live setting, retaining all its energy and palpable gravity. Their set was definitely positive, in terms of energy, but also seemed agitated, restless and querulous. Bison B.C. got under the skin of the audience, making us irritable and punchy, but still grinning and having a good time; it was a set that made me whiskey-angry. They ended with “Stressed Elephant,” which was defined by its weight and cacophonous, collapsing rhythm. This was a great, well-constructed set and they played the hell out of it.
Saviours filled the role of direct support and played well despite cooling the room down considerably. They have a much cleaner sound and were the most distant act, with minimal banter and engagement. Their set drew heavily from their latest EP, Death’s Procession. These longer format songs are very liner, almost narrative, in their construction, and it turned out that this made them challenging to follow live. Saviours are a good band that play very engaging music, but it’s also music that presents specific challenges in a live setting.
When headliners Weedeater began to play, I was immediately struck by how much effort they put into differentiating their sound from every other group on the bill. Their tone was harsh, ugly, abrasive and super-filthy, the guitars and bass drenched in feedback. Vocalist Dixie Dave Collins matched this perfectly, sounding like he’d been gargling with hot rocks and thumbtacks. Their songs are generally on the short side, and this translated into blasts of super-distorted guitar that washed over you like waves of shrapnel. They played heavily from Jason, the Dragon, and also incorporated some older material. I particularly enjoyed their ode to cheap bourbon, “For Evan’s Sake,” as well as “Wizard Fight.” Their set was ugly, soaked in distortion and great fun from start to finish.