KEN Mode Grand Gerrard Theatre, Toronto ON, September 9

KEN Mode Grand Gerrard Theatre, Toronto ON, September 9
Photo: Stephen McGill
For an underground metal band, two decades together is a long time to stick around, but Winnipeg noisemakers KEN Mode have done so with grace and enthusiasm. The band celebrated their momentous anniversary with a stellar, yet appropriately intimate, set at Toronto's Grand Gerrard Theatre.
Kicking off their performance with a quick thanks to the crowd for sticking around late on a Sunday night, the band launched into noisy punk jam "Doesn't Feel Pain Like He Should." From there, they kept the noise coming at a constant rate, with the skronky riffs of "The Illusion of Dignity" and the bass-driven "Blessed." The band spectacularly bring the bass to the forefront of their music with guitarist and vocalist Jesse Matthewson actually swapping instruments at one point to offer up a dual attack from the low end.
Performing in a small movie theatre played to their advantage, as they had a big screen displaying visuals to back their noisy sludge punk. Clips of bleeding nun statues, trippy geometrics, a glowing "Drug Zone" storefront sign and more brought an equally jarring atmosphere to the show as their music did.
Their set list mostly stuck to their critically acclaimed 2018 record Loved, but spanned a good chunk of their discography. Tracks such as "Feather & Lips" "The Hammer Party" brought a sonic assault of noise and grit, while "The Book Of Muscle" and "The Terror Pulse" were super-charged to sound slightly heavier than their studio versions.
Although they only took one brief moment between songs to address the crowd, unnerving sound clips between songs kept the eerie mood going while they swapped and tuned their instruments. Closing out their set, the band made their way through "No Gentle Art," and capped off the night by messing around with their hefty pedalboards to create as much noise as possible.
As they finished their show, drummer Shane Matthewson came to the front of the stage to give his praise to the crowd. "This band's been around for 20 years now and we only keep showing up because people like all of you keep showing up," he said as they tore their equipment down at the end of the night. They may not be headlining massive arenas anytime soon, but KEN Mode are sure to have passionate crowds showing up for years to come.