Published Jan 24, 2011The reason why Inertia Entertainment booked a band with two drummers at Toronto's Annex Wreck Room was, at first, a mystery. The night's three acts were nearly swallowed by the mountainous stacks of amps, but after a few minutes, the visual irritants became an afterthought, as the synergy between the three groups overshadowed the cramped space.
Serving as openers, New Jersey trio Fight Amp acknowledged Kylesa's early sludge leanings with their bottom-heavy ode to grunge style, while Philly's Rosetta represented Kylesa's new musical direction, as the opening act's post-metal sound could have easily served as an homage to the headliner's latest album, Spiral Shadow.
Visually, Fight Amp (their Manners and Praise was produced by Kylesa's Phillip Cope) might be no-frills, but sonically, they delivered an impressive set, positioning their excellent drummer, Mike Howard, front and centre. Rosetta's vocalist Michael Armine commandeered the stage with his enthusiasm and, despite his diminutive stature, an almost scary intensity. It would have been a near flawless performance if the band had pre-programmed the laptop balancing precariously on the side of the stage. But, unfortunately, Armine would throw himself around with wild abandon, and then quickly regain his composure before being forced to skirt back to the laptop to program more ambient sounds.
Kylesa's bassist/keyboardist Corey Barhorst almost matched Armine's energy to performing in front of an adoring crowd, showing the most enthusiasm out of Savannah, GA quintet. Despite the critical acclaim received for last year's Spiral Shadow, Kylesa's set seemed more focused on 2009's Static Tensions. "Said and Done" and "Unknown Awareness" got the crowd fist-pumping, but new tracks like "Don't Look Back" and "Tired Climb," while just as musically impressive and perfectly executed, seemed to slightly subdue the room, just like guitarist Laura Pleasants's slightly chilly demeanour.
Despite being sandwiched together, drummers Carl McGinley and Tyler Newberry were perfectly in tandem and were occasionally accompanied by relatively clean-shaven guitarist/vocalist Cope on percussion. The excellently curated show, Kylesa's rhythmic triple threat and perfect execution thankfully raised the temperature in the room, but there was still a strange stillness in the air that unfortunately matched the cold winter outside.