Published Jun 04, 2014With four bands on an all-ages bill, there were bound to be a series of highs, lows and surprises on Tuesday night at the Opera House. Each act occupies their own territory within the melodic punk realm and, perhaps most importantly for those who had to get up early the next day, each act was incredibly punctual.
Philadelphia's Cayetana, yet another rising punk act from the home of the Flyers (Is there something in the water?), warmed the crowd with a scrappy, spunky but altogether short set. Debuting songs from their forthcoming debut LP on Tiny Engines, the three-piece looked relatively at ease filling a stage larger than they likely usually play.
Hometown heroes PUP capitalized on the comfort of being in familiar surroundings after having spent most of the last few months on tour and let loose with an emphatic set. Small pockets of loyal fans were scattered up front and quickly, the Opera House floor was nearly full. Easily the most talkative act of the night, the road has been kind to PUP: their songs were less aggressive than past gigs, but no less penetrating. If anything, constant gigging has given the band a chance to let their sweaty punk jams have space to breathe. It suits them.
Before "Reservoir," the last song of their set, lead singer Stefan Babcock told the crowd they had a pair of Riot Fest tickets to give away to the first person to do a front-flip off the stage. Naturally, chaos ensued and PUP's basement punk roots showed themselves. It wasn't immediately clear who took first prize, but there were dozens of fans happy to take a consolation prize and launch themselves off the stage throughout the burning closer.
Lemuria has long been a reliable act in their own right, crafting smart and melody-driven songs best suited for Saturday afternoons. Theirs is a discography that is easy to lose yourself in, and their live approach is equally as engrossing. There were few pauses and a cohesive vibe permeated the set, held afloat by the natural chemistry of guitarist/vocalist Sheena Ozzella and bassist Max Gregor. Unfortunately, the airtight melodies did little to win over a crowd still hungry for more energy after PUP's set. Re-arranging the line-up in honour of PUP playing their hometown might've served the entire crowd much better.
When the Menzingers hit the stage promptly at 10:30 p.m. for their first headlining show in Canada, they quickly begin an opening assault of hits including "I Don't Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore," (they didn't even need to ask the crowd to sing the chorus to it) "Good Things" and "In Remission."
If PUP was the sound of young punks living every night as if it was their last, the Menzingers are the kind of guys advising you to drink water before bed: their recorded output continues to improve and lyrically, the band seems to welcome adult problems. Stopping only briefly to rep Montreal's Pouzza Fest and mispronounce "Ontarians," the Menzingers crashed and banged their way through a barrage of hits. The crowd regularly sang along, including during a rousing "Ava House." Their charm is an inviting one: there were more than enough fists in the air and the band's appreciation was palpable.
Even the Flatliners' Chris Cresswell appeared onstage late in the set to throw himself into the crowd. Perhaps overwhelmed with responsibility, he didn't receive the support needed from the crowd and quickly crashed to the floor. It was but a minor misstep in an enjoyable night for punks of all ages.
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