The Bled / Protest the Hero / Since by Man / As Cities Burn Opera House, Toronto ON - March 24, 2006

As Cities Burn received a warm reception, busting through a set of painfully predictable emo core with a borderline offensive lack of originality. Lead singer TJ Bonnette sounded exhausted, and while giving his all for eager fans of the band couldn’t deliver the goods. Since By Man received a substantially less welcoming response from a mostly indifferent room, many of whom seemed genuinely confused by the lack of breakdowns in the band’s cluster fuck of an opening song, "Emergency and Me.” The band’s bizarre mishmash of hardcore, electronic and pure punk elements was even more potent live than on record, with songs such as "Goddamnit Baby This Is Soul” exploding from their Refused-style beginnings into massive walls of noise and rhythm. When vocalist Sam Macon made his way to one of the venue’s side bars to belt out his very particular brand of somewhat shouted, vaguely melodic verbiage, the otherwise uninvolved crowd finally brightened up. While the band’s set may have only won over a select group, their inspired and original performance was surely a highlight of the night. Local stalwarts Protest the Hero took the stage to the biggest applause of the night and held the audience captive for the entirety of their performance. Still mind-blowingly talented for their reasonably young age, there was something wonderful about seeing the genuine excitement of the young punks in the crowd for a band truly concerned with only their music and not their image. Headliners the Bled got their semi-hit "You Know Who’s Seatbelt” out of the way first, leaving their breakdown-heavy set too long and dull to warrant any further comment.