It's very rare to see three of the biggest bands in any given musical movement playing the same show outside of a festival setting, but that's what happened last night (June 24) at Danforth when verbose punk storytellers mewithoutYou, Toronto-born rockers Fucked Up and the reformed, seminal Thursday played one after the other in a celebration of '00s post-hardcore.
With the recent comebacks of At the Drive-In and Refused, two of the genre's forefathers, there is something of a post-hardcore renaissance in the air, and seeing the artists who represented its second wave play together, one reason as to why it happened at this specific time was made clear.
mewithoutYou played a short set that included cuts from their last record, Pale Horses, but mostly comprised material from early in their career. Frontman Aaron Weiss enthusiastically jumped and screamed across the stage while the band played with the energy of a headlining act, but even though there were a few fans singing along with the backing vocal melodies of "D-Minor," the crowd as a whole didn't quite reciprocate the affection to the same degree.
This was most definitely not the case with Fucked Up — particularly when vocalist Damian Abraham, a Toronto native who grew up in the neighbourhood surrounding Danforth, brought his three sons on stage to celebrate one of their birthdays. In between fiery playing and Abraham jumping into the crowd to hug anyone he could reach, he told anecdotes of his youth in the city and the early days in the band. Even though they happened over 15 years ago, they were still instantly relatable to a great deal of younger local punk fans in the crowd. The band closed their set by bringing out Abraham's sons to sing a final track, but Abraham also introduced a prevailing theme of the night by calling out the recent First Responders Unity Festival and voicing his support for anyone in the audience who had been harassed by police.
Finally, the night's headliners Thursday took the stage and spelled out their reason for being there with a giant banner on the background. In the center was the band's iconic dove logo, while on both sides were messages supporting refugees and immigrants. The messages were welcomed with booming cheers by the audience, and Thursday responded in kind by blasting through highlights from their entire discography. Since, in their own words, they had no new songs and only old songs, everyone in the crowd knew every song by heart, from the title track of War All the Time to the more art rock-influenced cuts from their final pre-breakup album No Devolución.
This was a special show not only for the audience, but for the band as well: It was their first Toronto show since reforming after a five-year break-up, and frontman Geoff Rickly vowed to play a longer show than usual in recognition of this fact. Near the end of the show, Rickly announced that this was his first time playing a Canadian venue sober, and dedicated songs to fans who were there since the band's early days playing the Opera House. To put the cherry on top of the celebratory atmosphere, the band seemingly borrowed some party supplies from the Flaming Lips' warehouse and launched balloons and confetti into the crowd. Out of context, that may seem a little jarring at a post-hardcore show, but considering the sentimental mood the band were in, the audience fully indulged the bombast.