As promised, the following recounts two exhausting (after the fact) days of musical awesomeness in a not-quite-garbageless1 Toronto.
Now, I haven't been to an awful lot of concerts - I maybe average two per year - but I've been lucky enough that every one I've been to has been excellent. Yes, it's a weird list, from Phil Collins at SkyDome to Marilyn's Vitamins in Alton; Jimmy Eat World at Arrow Hall to Hawksley Workman and friends at The Phoenix. There has been Barenaked Ladies, John Mayer, Thornley, Hedley (sorry Megs), and a few others, many of which I experienced from behind glass at Georgian.
Anyhow, I'm often a hard sell on concerts - the tickets are usually quite expensive, and I have to really like a band to want to see them. I think I'm far too clinical when it comes to music - I get far too involved in the history of bands, who's played where and with whom, who their influences were, that I forget I'm just going to enjoy the music. But, then, of course, I go to a concert and have an absolutely brilliant time.
So, without further adieu, Thursday, July 30, and Friday, July 31.
Meaghan bought us tickets to see Incubus at the Amphitheatre2 for my birthday. I've been a fan of Incubus for years and years, after having been introduced to them by Nad.
The show was fabulous, and the openers, The Duke Spirit, were quite good themselves. It really was a stand-up concert all the way, we had excellent seats, and they played a wide range of their songs - some of their funky Dirk Lance era stuff, to their newer hip-hop-inspired Ben Kenney stuff. Brandon Boyd has a unique stage presence - equal parts funk and punk.
Of course, we saw our share of concert clichés. There were the girls in front of us that became incredibly enamoured with one another after two beers, the girls to our right that "pulled it down" à la Nick Carter during the particularly soulful verses, and the guys next to us that apparently smoked3 themselves into paralysis - even as they sang along (with often ad-libbed verses) at the top of their lungs and voiced their approval with several "Wooo!"s, their faces remained expressionless and their hands mostly just flailed. But, that's to be expected, I suppose.
The following day, we had tickets to see St. Alvia, Rancid, and Rise Against, again at the Amphitheatre. During the day, though, Rise Against (well, Tim McIlrath and Zach Blair) were performing at The Edge, so we left early and figured out how to get from Ontario Place to the Eaton Centre via streetcar. We got there a little behind schedule, and only saw about half of their last song, but we stuck around and scored some pictures and autographs.
We booted around the Eaton Centre and Yonge & Dundas Square for a while, and went and saw Away We Go - not entirely what we were expecting, but pretty good, and filled with very lovable and very hateable characters. Finally, it was back to the Amphitheatre for some punk rock awesomeness and a significantly different crowd than the night before.
We missed St. Alvia, but we were seated in time for Rancid, who, I'm not going to lie, I was probably more amped to see than Rise Against.4 I was actually kinda surprised - and felt very old while being surprised by this - by the number of people having no idea who Rancid were. This is part of the music I grew up with, so it was kinda weird to hear people say they hadn't heard of them. Odd. Odd indeed.
They played very hard and very fast, and were a treat to see. It was interesting to see how they've changed over the years, as they were flashing pictures up on the screens from when they first began. I'm very happy to say I've seen Rancid play live, and I've got Meaghan to thank.
Next, we moved on to the highlight of the evening - Rise Against.
There really aren't words to justify the power and intensity with which these guys play. They spoke a lot to the audience, but never for such an amount of time that the atmosphere lost any of its pop. Everyone was all over the stage, the crowd was into it - I only got slammed into only once; I can't imagine what Andrew was dealing with - and, most importantly, you could tell the band was into it. There was nothing pretentious about them, they seemed to be performing not so much for the audience but with the audience.
Completely awesome show. There's not much more to say. Oh, well, except this - if you wear a Chicago Cubs jersey to a Rise Against concert in Toronto, you run the very real risk of having, "Hey! Chicago! You love James Blunt!" yelled at you. Be advised.
1 - Garbage pickup was set to resume that weekend
2 - Ben apparently "spoiled" the surprise by asking who was opening for them before I actually knew we were going, but I didn't catch on
3 - Which is something that bothers me. If people were smoking cigarettes you know people would have been giving them dirty looks and asking them to put it out. However, since they were smoking pot - a smoke with a much more pungent and cloying nature - no one says a word. But, as Marnie said in regards to Green Day fans waiting for the lights to go out before they lit up, "What kind of concert is this?" - maybe I'm just not "with it"
4 - Although Rise Against's performance has vaulted them very near the top of my favourite bands to see in concert