Lifetime / The Draft / The Hostage Life Kathedral, Toronto ON April 20

Still pounding the shit out of their excellent full-length Walking Papers, locals Hostage Life have spent their time since its release becoming an even tighter unit churning out fast and catchy old school punk rock. The band sounded road-tested, performing a strong set of songs from Walking Papers and their equally compelling Sing for the Enemy EP. The Draft’s live show proved to be infinitely more exciting than their somewhat dull debut, In a Million Pieces. Three-quarters of Gainesville legends Hot Water Music (they formed following the departure of HWM’s gruff-voiced front-man Chuck Ragan), the band still benefit from the almost-as-rough style of Chris Wollard, whose ability to front a band on his own was proven by such powerful songs as "Lo Zee Rose” and "New Eyes Open.” Even the lesser album tracks like "Not What I Wanna Do” took on an exciting new life with the band’s intense live energy — as much should be expected from three guys who have been playing together since 1993. When Lifetime finally took to the stage, the capacity crowd exploded as the band launched into the brand new "Northbound Breakdown.” Mixing songs from their new full-length with their classic material, the band made the ten-year wait worthwhile, performing nearly every song from 1997’s Jersey’s Best Dancers. Hello Bastards was also well represented, as the band brought such songs as "Knives, Bats, New Tats” and "Irony is for Suckers” out of the vault. Lifetime clearly relished the crowd response, and the near-hero worship they received from the all-ages crowd was well deserved. With a final encore of "Bringing it Backwards,” the band proved that, despite a ten-year absence, they remain one of the most vital punk bands in existence.