Soilwork, Jeff Loomis, Bonded by Blood, Blackguard, Toronto, ON, 03/20/13

In some of the coldest moments in recent “spring” memory, fans lined up outside of the Opera House in Toronto, ON for what was to be one hell of a show. Now, it may not sound like much to you, but let’s just say that it was unseasonably cold. This having been the second day of spring, most people were expecting a nice day. At worse, maybe a little brisk wind here and there, but instead living up to its native name meaning “bad weather” Toronto experienced yet another snowfall and some more cold wind. But, being the hardy bunch that they are, droves of fans had already lined up outside of the Opera house hours before the gig began, hoping to catch a good spot up front. I don’t know how hardy Beliebers are, but this was yet another testament of how dedicated some of these fans are.

The good thing about a crowd that eager to get in from the cold is that they a lot more  receptive to bands they wouldn’t have been otherwise. I’m not saying Bonded By Blood style wise doesn’t fit one, but out of all the bands, they did seem like the odd ones out. When the frost had melted away thanks to our new cozy interior (about 800 person venue) the lights died down as they usually do and the music went up to near deafening proportions and the night was off. The opening bands always have the the toughest parts to live up to and my heart really goes out to them. It’s like electing someone to be the first to step onto a minefield.

But regardless, Blackguard, and Bonded by Blood I’m sure gave it their all. I just can’t say that I’m that into what they do, the watered down Exodus worship of Bonded by Blood does little for me and little more for Blackguard and their brand of epic melodic death metal. But, I’m sure others enjoyed it.

However, whatever division there was beforehand quickly dissipated when Jeff Loomis hit the stage. I’m not saying that he stole the show, but Jeff and his luxurious blond locks absolutely killed it. At times you hesitate to see some bands live; we’ve all heard people say “They sound much better on the album” and while that may be true in some instances, it simply isn’t here.  It simply boggles my mind that Jeff Loomis could not only reproduce, but improve upon the tracks on Plains of Oblivion and Zero Order Phase. The sheer musicianship is nothing short of awesome, simply put Jeff Loomis and his band are beasts. I’m surprised the crowd had anything left after his performance. Unfortunately, there were a few sound problems that would intermittently interfere and go on to effect Soilwork‘s entrance.

But, much like a junkie waiting for their next fix, the fans stuck around for Soilwork, who (eventually ) hit the stage. Yet another example of bands that are better live than in studio Soilwork cranked out every song better than I could’ve imagined; blasting through their old tunes with a new freshness and solidifying the fact that The Living Infinite is an instant classic, Soilwork simply turned it up to 11 and let it go. Having so many albums to play though, I was afraid that the new tracks might barely get featured, but not only did they play tracks from Stabbing the Drama, Panic Broadcast, Figure Number Five, but they played some of the best tracks off The Living Infinite.  All in all, I can’t imagine that any person could walk away disappointed with such a solid performance. The only thing that seemed to be a half miss was a Possesed cover that seemed to fall on blank faces. Though, I think that some people pretended to sing along.

In the end, while there were some technical problems, all the bands played to their fullest. And though it’s not the most solid lineup in all of concert memory, it was a thoroughly satisfying show. Though we constantly hear about declining album sales and all the other problems ailing the music industry, the one thing I haven’t seen a drop in is live performances. That’s something that you simply can’t get even if it were a pirated copy of the live performance; the raw energy, the roar of the crowd and the smell of the bozo next to you are all amongst the things that add to the night. Also, the motely crew that you’ll meet in the lineup, don’t forget that. There’s always interesting people in those situations.

That’s when you realize that it may be that there are two different industries; the music and the other that simply sells you the music. If we were to believe what we are told, then the “death of the music industry” would signal about an apocalyptic end to all things that carry a tempo, but it simply isn’t true; having been part of the Canadian Music Week (a week long concert extravaganza in Toronto) I can assure you that there are more people going to live shows now, than ever before. It seems that there are more people finding out about music and enjoying in a form where the artist gains much more than traditional media, which equals better concerts, better albums and better bands. Well, all except maybe the last one.

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I remember staying up past my bedtime when I was a kid, I had been flipping through radio stations aimlessly until my finger just stopped on Q107. I was instantly hooked by the drums, guitar and sheer heavyness of the song. I really didn’t know what music could be that heavy. Ever since then I’ve been hooked and attended shows in the seediest of dives to the most expensive arenas, met my share of rock stars, even won a few awesome pieces of memorabilia. But I’ll never forget the time an 8 year old me thrashed out on my bed at 2am to “Master of Puppets”.