Published Feb 10, 2013Since first starting to play shows in 1993, Hot Water Music's live shows and outright enthusiasm have become legendary. But when the band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2005, they left a void that many groups, such as Alkaline Trio, Against Me! and the Gaslight Anthem, attempted to fill. But Hot Water Music, who reformed last year and released another landmark album, Exister, proved at Vancouver's Vogue Theatre that no one else really compares to them when it comes to uplifting punk anthems.
Pennsylvanian quartet the Menzingers tried, but ultimately sounded downbeat and low in energy opening up the show. Their more rocking songs, such as "Time Tables" from their second album Chamberlain Waits, fell a little flat in comparison to what was to come.
La Dispute treaded more on the hardcore side of the spectrum. The Michigan band attacked the stage, led by rambling diatribes from singer Jordan Dreyer (who's running-on-the-spot dance move was pretty nifty) and dense, near-shoegaze guitar drones that complemented the distorted bass. Their last song, the true story of a drive-by shooting that killed a family in "King Park," sent shivers down the spine, lyrically and musically.
The members of Hot Water Music are renowned for their enthusiasm and positive stage vibes. So it was hilarious and totally fitting that singer/guitarist Chuck Ragan — a guy who just oozes bearded-punk bromance — ran on stage with a huge grin on his face, already pumping his fist before the band even picked up their instruments.
Yes, they opened with "Remedy." And, yes, they followed that with "Trusty Chords." And, yes, some people lost their minds. The triumphant anthems from 2002's Caution set the tone for Hot Water Music's set, which spanned all eight of their albums, but thankfully honed in on the stellar Exister material. These were, after all, songs that brought the band new life after a seven-year break.
Ever have that moment at a show when you are dancing or moshing and amazing friends grab you in the pit at precisely the right moment to scream that perfect song lyric in your face? This show was filled with those moments. Exister's tale of rebirth, "Paid in Full," brought friends all over the venue together for a transcendent sing-along.
A two-song encore consisted of a cover of the Bouncing Souls' "True Believers" and Hot Water Music's early-era classic, "Turnstile," which ends most of their shows. But what resonated well after the band left the stage was the effect they had on their fans. People exited the venue with a certain glow that can only be described as that "Hot Water Music look." May they never go away again.