Male Bonding / Love Inks / Neon Windbreaker Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON September 2

Male Bonding / Love Inks / Neon Windbreaker Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON September 2
Toronto upstarts Neon Windbreaker took the stage to a spotty crowd at the Horseshoe Tavern, but their initial volley of punk tracks took the audience by surprise. Songs featuring the aggressive velocity of hardcore punk melded with complex arrangements grew on the crowd as time progressed. However, some covers were met with mixed results, and as the crowd eventually began to wander, it appeared the ramshackle Neon Windbreaker had started to lose their appeal.

Love Inks took to the stage next and proved to be an odd booking choice as their mellow tunes took over the club. In an act of controlled simplicity, Love Inks employed bare arrangements to drive their songs. Sparse beats triggered through a drum machine drew attention towards the melodic bass, floating guitar and brooding vocals. On stage, the trio were timid and uninviting, causing stage presence to be the only depreciating factor of the performance.

The playful and fuzzed-out punk of Male Bonding worked perfectly in a live setting. It seemed the nicely polished tracks of this year's Endless Now were given the lo-fi treatment by the club's sound system, matching the old with the new. Fast-paced tracks like "Weird Feelings" perfectly complemented the longer, newer ventures into noise during tracks like "Bones." This compatibility fared well with the crowd, as there was no shortage of dancing throughout the span of Male Bonding's fantastic set.

Midway through the show, bassist Kevin Hendrick insisted with a snicker that Male Bonding's performance had ruined the "legendary" status of the Horseshoe Tavern. The remarks were followed by a barrage of tracks from their first LP Nothing Hurts. "Franklin" and "Year's Not Long" enticed roars of applause, yet marked the end of their set. Within minutes of leaving, the band somewhat reluctantly returned to the stage for an encore and announced that this evening's was their first, to which guitarist John Webb blurted, "Lucky buggers." This time they weren't joking.