Power Trip / Sheer Mag Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, May 13

Power Trip / Sheer Mag Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, May 13
Photo: Riley Taylor
One word can describe the Toronto stop of Power Trip's latest headlining tour: irate.
Vocalist Riley Gale took to the stage in a button-down shirt bearing the Texas state flag, but doffed it to reveal a hoary No Warning T-shirt before completing their introductory song. That image alone is fitting, as Power Trip joyfully hail from Dallas, but have loyally been playing Toronto for half-a-decade. From three a.m. surprise sets at Soybomb to last night's sold out Lee's Palace show, Power Trip may have grown into one of the metal world's hottest acts, but Toronto feels like their second home.
"Think fast, Toronto!" was Gale's cautionary warning before he exhumed his calloused grit over the slithering riffs of "Soul Sacrifice." Much of the night followed this formula, as Power Trip's mosh was so widespread that I often found myself being overtly mindful of my surroundings from side-stage. For several instances of the set, the ferocity inside Lee's Palace felt like an afternoon Cro-Mags matinee at CBGB.
Fuming as their set was, a portion of the evening wasn't always so. Enter the tour's co-headliner; Sheer Mag, who offered a punk-inspired power pop charm to the otherwise abrasive sounds of the tour package. Some of the room's tough and cynical music fans might consider the troupe a bit of a sore thumb, but what was once a shoehorn-shaped crowd of hardcore moshing for supporting acts Red Death and Fury quickly became a packed floor of people boogying to Sheer Mag's contagious grooves.
Vocalist Tina Halladay is the forefront and wonder of Sheer Mag's unapologetic charm. While her vocals and overall pizazz intermittently did not translate because of squeaking microphone feedback, her spacey and scratchy vocal tone carried the performance, a feat only matched by guitarist Kyle Seeley's sugary licks. While it may not have been the entire room's fascination, the group warmly welcomed those who leant their ears for a taste of the Mag, and did not seem to care about quiet naysayers.
Touring in support of last year's sophomore breakthrough Nightmare Logic and their recent Opening Fire: 2008-2014 reissue, Power Trip supplied a balanced set list of the old and new. A loud majority of the crowd declared to Gale that it was their first Power Trip experience, but steadfast fans from the hardcore world had just as much to be ecstatic about.
The group glazed through crowd favourites "Firing Squad," "Divine Apprehension" and "Crucifixation" like battering clockwork. Dedicating "Suffer No Fool" to their early Lockin Out Records family, the room erupted into an enticing chaos where stage dives were an equally captivating form of entertainment.
Participation is the name of Power Trip's game, and while Gale verbalized he was sceptical about performing an encore due to a few attendees heading for an early exit, "Crossbreaker" and "Executioner's Tax" inspired sing-alongs that spoke volumes to the band's irresistible brand of hardcore-influenced thrash metal.