The Flatliners / Fake Problems / The Menzingers / Mockingbird Wish Me Luck Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON December 19

The Flatliners / Fake Problems / The Menzingers / Mockingbird Wish Me Luck Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON December 19
This all-ages show was the last in a ten-day Flatliners-hosted trek for these bands across Ontario and Quebec, and there couldn't have been a better way to end it than with the attentive and lively room that all four bands captured in their own way. These bands have spent a lot of time on the road this year and it was apparent, to varying degrees, that they were just about ready to have a bit of time off.

Starting things relatively early was Kitchener, ON's Mockingbird Wish Me Luck. Their tuneful, roots-influenced Hot Water Music-esque set was engaging enough on its own, but it's too bad the band themselves seemed practically uninterested, the bass player introducing the last song with a flippant "we have one more and this tour is fucking over." Perhaps road weariness had got the better of them. Regardless, the room was into it and, with any luck, purchased some merch, because this set unfortunately didn't do much for the group's otherwise great recorded material.

Philadelphia, PA's the Menzingers were up second, blazing through a headliner-worthy set of tracks from both their debut and most recent album, the stellar Chamberlain Waits. It was in this context, newer material up against older, that the emerging sophistication became obvious in these young dudes' songwriting, though either way, their knack for penning huge, melancholy-tinged anthems is remarkable. Their ska roots, however, worked the room into a circle-pit frenzy right off the top of the set, and it didn't relent, something that would bode well for the two-tone past of the night's headliners.

First, though, Florida's Fake Problems sandwiched their strangely incompatible kitsch pop between what otherwise would have been an intense two-punch of some of the best in modern punk. How the crowd of young, riled-up, pit-ready punks was able to politely pay attention was a feat of nature.

The lull, however, only increased the anticipation for hometown heroes the Flatliners. Catering to the enthusiastic crowd, the Flats launched into a handful of their older ska punk material, something they clearly knew would unhinge the room. With a growing catalogue (and fan base), they only dipped into newest album Cavalcade sparingly, preferring instead to show off how their tireless touring has shaped even the roughest of their past output. Regardless of what they played, the crowd's collective voice sang almost louder than the band, a sure reward for the hardworking band. With a cameo from Dinosaur Bones' Branko Scekic dressed as a sheep and a Tragically Hip cover, the Flatliners triumphantly brought a year of rigourous touring to a joyous close.