The last time Every Time I Die took to the stage in Toronto, they were forced to do so without frontman Keith Buckley. The evening before their scheduled set, Buckley returned home to Buffalo, having been notified that his pregnant wife had been hospitalized and was in critical condition. Buckley was prepared by doctors to lose everything, but fortunately lost nothing.
The next album Every Time I Die would write, Low Teens, was easily recognized as their most personal record to date, dealing with fear, loss and despondence. So last night (March 3), when Every Time I Die took to the stage with frontman and new father Buckley in support of their new record, the mood was somewhat celebratory — and understandably so.
Every Time I Die brought with them three hardcore acts to open the night up. The first two, Eternal Sleep and Harms Way, provided a common soundtrack for a populating venue and an adequate stomping-ground for moshers, but the pit felt rather obligatory, as most who occupied it were simply acquiescing to the incessant command to "open this shit up."
The communal anticipation really became palpable once Knocked Loose rolled in. Although it was apparent most of the audience were in attendance exclusively for Every Time I Die, a sizable following made themselves known during Knocked Loose's hard-hitting set. Breakdown after unrelenting breakdown caused the pit to swell until its width almost matched that of the venue itself. Knocked Loose conducted the crowd into wilful submission with their insatiable lust for hurt, perfectly setting the stage for Every Time I Die.
At 9:30 p.m. sharp, the lights dimmed, the cover from the backdrop was pulled, and the sold-out crowd erupted. Every Time I Die had arrived.
The hardcore veterans absolutely pelted the crowd with an unforgiving 22-song set, offering little time in between performances for audience members to lick their wounds. The set was largely comprised of tracks from Low Teens, but long-time fans were rewarded with some of their favourites off past releases, including "Emergency Broadcast Syndrome" from Last Night in Town, the band's 2001 debut full-length.
Having been in the game for so long, Every Time I Die performed a perfectly rehearsed set, leaving little room for error or improvisation. Even the moments meant to feel extemporaneous, such as their "Bored Stiff" gaffe, were very much scripted and evidently so. Fans that have seen Every Time I Die before received exactly what was to be expected: a flawless, yet familiar act. For all the first-timers: rest well.