In downtown Toronto's friendliest dive, on one of their last club shows for a while, the band got the pit moving and shaking early and without much rest, opting to put audience interaction on the backburner in exchange for an abundance of high-energy slayers. Tunes like explosive favourite "Fuckin' Up Young" and "Cinnamon," from their 2014 Fat Wreck Chords seven-inch, inspired some fist-pumping sing-alongs, with the crowd belting out the latter's chorus of "You can be pissed off if you want to."
When he's at the helm (which is most of the time), frontman Luke Bentham is able to get the audience on his side with a snap of his fingers and a smile, employing some powerful charisma. He yells like Roger Daltrey and shreds like Pete Townshend, complete with impressive windmill strums driving home the band's extra meaty hooks. About halfway through their quick 40-minute set, he revealed that he was now (happily) unemployed.
"I quit my job this week," he said. "Well, I kind of got fired." Then he mentioned drummer Kyle Fisher would be "giving away smooches" for five bucks over at the merch table at the end of the show, before jumping into another two minutes of reckless, thrashy abandon. Then he continued on. "So the second half of my story is that I took every penny I had and went out and bought a clear guitar," he said, flashing the brand new six-string. They slowed the breakneck pace of the night with "Wrestle Yü to Hüsker Dü," but it was the only time the band really took a breath, and they still played it about two times faster than usual.
A few people filtered out into the street after the "last" song, but a small encore chant brought the band back on stage. "We are the Dirty Nil from Dundas, Ontario," Bentham said, "and this song is for the Van Helvoort brothers," shouting out the recently disbanded Teenage Kicks, another Toronto group who were beloved for their rock'n'roll heart. It was a tender moment from a band with tunes that are anything but tender.