Maybe it was because it's only been a little over a year since we last saw Alexisonfire, or maybe because their fans were just in a celebratory mode, but there has been nothing funereal about the St. Catharines punks' slew of goodbye shows.
After announcing the band's breakup in the summer of 2011, the group suffered a knee-jerk reaction to their awestruck fans. Giving no proper farewell other than a blog post, the five-piece, who ushered screamo music into a melodic revolution, owed it to their devoted to give them one last thank-you tour, just in time to mark Alexisonfire's 10-year anniversary.
The string of tour dates that followed — taking the band from the UK to Australia and back home to Canada for one last round — is the grand finale for many young fans who were shaped by George Pettit and Wade MacNeil's aggressive growls, Dallas Green's soft melodies, and Chris Steele and Jordan "Ratbeard" Hastings' bulldozing rhythms and sounds. This is, in some ways, the event that will trump any graduation or prom those high-schoolers ever had. As Pettit reiterates in the encore "This Could Be Anywhere in the World," "This is our celebration! Come join the lost souls!"
Mere minutes before the band took the stage for the first of four sold-out shows at Toronto's Sound Academy — their second last stop of the tour — the crowd was already summoning them, in anticipation. "A-O-F! A-O-F! A-O-F!"
And AOF didn't disappoint. Tearing through a lengthy setlist of greatest hits, the show just clocked in under two hours and delivered practically every song an Alexinsonfire fan could have hoped for. Openers and old friends Moneen instructed fans to sing their hearts out and surely, ever last word was thrown right back at Alexisonfire. This was a no-holds-barred, "leave everything in the mosh pit" occasion, where perhaps both the band and the audience felt as if they owed it to each other to go all out.
Alexisonfire themselves have never sounded better. Rejuvenated, bursting with energy and boasting the same charismatic charm that shot them to success, they came across sharpened and triumphant, taking us back to reality as we realized this magic will not be utilized for future releases.
Much like those dreaded proms and graduations, this show marked the joyous end of a musical era in Canadian and hardcore music. And as we all collect our things and step back out into the world, we are forced to assess our next steps without Alexisonfire. It's exhausting, sweaty and oh-so bittersweet, but alas, the proper note to end things on.