...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, March 31

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, March 31
Photo: Stephen McGill
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Just a month ago, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead's Jason Reece told Exclaim! that he and fellow co-founder Conrad Keely were "fucking old as shit," "fucking middle aged dudes now" and referred to the band as "Trail of Dads." It wasn't exactly the kind of indication fans were expecting from the Austin band once known for riot-inducing gigs that often ended without an instrument still intact. It turns out he was either in self-deprecation mode that day or just taking the piss.

On the only Canadian stop for their tour playing 2002's Source Tags & Codes album front to back, Trail of Dead hardly appeared to be the "old as shit" dads Reece depicted. Maybe at this point they had more to prove, but the quartet (rounded out by bassist Autry Fulbright II and guitarist Jamie Miller) attacked their classic album with as much spunk and tenacity as they did 12 years ago.

Without original bassist Neil Busch in the line-up (he departed in 2004), Keely stepped in on both "Baudelaire" and "Monsoon"; both were harder and harsher than the originals, not to mention a little weird for anyone who saw the OG line-up perform the songs. Even Keely admitted "Baudelaire" felt like it was a cover.

When Reece stepped out from behind the drums for "Homage," "Heart in the Hand of the Matter" and "Days of Being Wild," he appeared like a stout yet strapping madman, fronting the songs with the vigour of a hardcore singer. Both he and Keely had their off-key moments, most noticeably when they teamed up on "Days of Being Wild," which also underwent some tempo changes; Keely dragged his vocals on "Relative Ways" in and out of tune.

But what Trail of Dead lacked in precision they made up for in pleasing the crowd. After closing the album set (or "ELP – extended long player" as Keely called it) with a booming "Source Tags & Codes," they dipped into another set of older songs. As usual, "Mistakes and Regrets" travelled at hyper speed, while the consecutive Madonna track, "Clair de Lune," was a little too hostile to live up to its rep as a "love song."

Keely prefaced "Caterwaul" by announcing "We all need to have a party," and upon initiation the crowd began pogoing, well into "Will You Smile Again?" as Reece entered the crowd with his guitar to stir the mosh pit. Fulbright gently but unsuccessfully goaded Japandroids' Brian King to join them for closer "A Perfect Teenhood." A one-song encore brought a beer shower for the spectators and an anarchic "Totally Natural," which climaxed with Fulbright launching himself off stage into a sea of hands.

There might not have been an instrument smashed, but it definitely felt like there was catharsis and purpose behind this Trail of Dead tour.