Shadows Fall / Bison B.C. Opera House, Toronto, ON March 4

Shadows Fall / Bison B.C. Opera House, Toronto, ON March 4
Being a world-class band isn't about the amount of people you can draw on any given night. Nor is it worrying about who didn't come to the gig. It's about what you do to ensure those who have made the effort to support you are treated with respect.

While both Vancouver-based quartet Bison B.C. and Springfield, MA's Shadows Fall have always been tight, aggressive and professional, on this particular evening, it was their ability to draw on that humility that ensured a modest turnout of a few hundred at the cavernous Opera House was still treated to the same experience as any sold-out gig would equivocally assure.

Raging away with their beastly doom metal, Bison B.C. not only treated fans to impeccable renditions of their catalogue but dove briefly into as-yet-unreleased new effort Dark Ages (Metal Blade). Growling, sneering and smashing away, despite generally being more comfortable on the constrictive confines of bar stages, the crew's enthusiasm was inspiring and infectious, drawing the majority of ragers to the front of the stage. Wrapping up their surprisingly short set with a vicious, chant-a-long during "These Are My Dress Clothes" from last album Quiet Earth, the band nailed it and were gone to monumental cheers.

Striving to keep up the pace, Shadows Fall were quick to hit the stage. Flailing about with a bit less zeal than their cohorts but still engaged, the quintet were spot-on and upbeat. Vocalist Brian Fair unwittingly gave his amusing air guitar lessons in between whips of insanely long dreadlocks, which actually forced band and audience alike to step back for fear of a lashing. As expected, Shadows Fall generally stuck closely to most of the favourites from the past three albums for the set list. Still, a strong showcasing of current album Retribution (Everblack Industries/Warner Bros.) surely pushed a few more CDs out the door while blasting out some older gems clearly pleased the longhorns.

Overall, while not a mind-blowing, shoulda-been-there event, for both Shadows Fall and Bison B.C., the bands' firm performances and inviting essences were vital in keeping a potential bummer of a show spirited and worthwhile.