Strapping Young Lad / Devin Townsend Band / Zimmer's Hole / Praetoria Opera House, Toronto ON - October 3, 2003

Strapping Young Lad / Devin Townsend Band / Zimmer's Hole / Praetoria Opera House, Toronto ON - October 3, 2003
After a strong performance (though not much of a visual spectacle) from locals Praetoria, Zimmer's Hole provided the night's most carnivalistic entertainment early on. With body parts sheathing the mic stand and a front-man in red body paint, horns, a backless tunic (after doffing his cloak and setting down his swords) and a large red phallus, it was immediately clear that a little humour was called for. Covers, including "This Flight Tonight," were sandwiched in with Zimmer's Hole originals, while "Re-Anaconda" boasted live guest vocals by Rob Urbinati (of Sacrifice infamy). In case spectators were unimpressed, which didn't seem to be a problem, the band provided canned cheers after each song. The Devin Townsend Band took the stage next in a nearly complete contrast. Slower and more serious, with no make-up, props or stage antics, Townsend and his cohorts delivered tracks off this year's Accelerated Evolution, as well as selections from Infinity, Terria and Ocean Machine's Biomech. While some audience members struggled to adjust to the suddenly more sedate atmosphere, others were obviously captivated by faithful renditions of Townsend's more laidback but still emotionally powerful material. Later changed into dark clothes from light (nasty Dev replacing nice?), Townsend returned to the stage with Strapping Young Lad. Despite an often muddy mix, the band delivered their trademark ferocious intensity and sardonic humour (and frequently encouraged shirt-buying). Ending their brutally brief onslaught by mocking the encore ritual, Strapping Young Lad closed with the crowd-pleaser "Detox." Townsend's references to throwing up suggested he was in less than top shape, and whether it was that or simply cruel fate, Toronto concert-goers were deprived of "All Hail the New Flesh" live for the second time this year. But still, despite that vacancy, the hoard walked away well-satisfied.