La Dispute The Opera House, Toronto ON, April 7

La Dispute The Opera House, Toronto ON, April 7
Photo: Shane Parent
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Between heavy drops of water from tree branches overhead and conversations about how "Stay Happy There" was "too pop-punk," the mood in the line outside the Opera House was dreary. Fans chatted, smoked cigarettes and sought refuge under umbrellas (some not totally intact), eagerly awaiting dry refuge inside the venue.

Baltimore's Pianos Become the Teeth began their eerie intro and then shocked the crowd into life, especially with highlight "Good Times." They erupted into applause, quickly morphing into a frenzy of bodies as the quintet played songs both old and new, including one set for their upcoming record.

After another short break, the five thin figures of La Dispute walked out onto the stage, now adorned with four lamps behind the band and two slide projectors, displaying hazy images of deer, highways, leaves and an off-centre elderly woman sitting in a chair.

Wasting little time, the band tore into Rooms of the House opener "HUDSONVILLE, MI 1956" and "First Reactions After Falling Through Ice," prompting roars of joy from the charged crowd. It was shortly after these songs that singer Jordan Dreyer revealed he'd broken his shoe. Quickly getting over the loss, the band continued on with impeccable musicianship and Dreyer's marionette-made-of-wet-noodles movements across the stage, totally in sync with each other, not missing a note.

The brilliant performance hinged on the arrangement of the set list, which gave unique context to the new songs and new life to the old. Sandwiched between the two opening songs and the two closing songs off the new record were more chaotic cuts ("Stay Happy There," "the Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit") placed in a waving, flowing pace with more melodic songs ("Woman [in mirror]," "a Poem").

One of the most notable moments was breaking the narrative of Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair to put "New Storms for Older Lovers" ahead of "Said the King to the River." The denouement of the former bled perfectly into the latter, warranting uproarious applause.

The encore was inevitable, with the crowd hungry for more (though failing to find a unified chant, with one third shouting "ENCORE", one screaming "ONE MORE SONG" and another upping the ante with "TWO MORE SONGS"). Dreyer and guitarist Chad Sterenberg returned to play an intimate rendition of "A Broken Jar" as the rest of the band slowly filed in before all erupting into the fan favorite tragedy "King Park."

The reenergized crowd thrashed and wailed along with Dreyer, all joining in chanting "Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself?" Within their lengthy set list, the band managed to prove that their live performance was as tight and formidable as their records, making the wait in the cold and hazy blue worth every raindrop.

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