Solids Silver Dollar Room, Toronto ON, February 20

Solids Silver Dollar Room, Toronto ON, February 20
Photo: Shane Parent
Last night, Montreal's Solids took the stage at the Silver Dollar Room in Toronto to mark the release of their first full-length LP, Blame Confusion, and kick off their biggest North American tour yet. The duo of Xavier Germain Poitras (guitars) and Louis Guillemette (drums) had already self-released the album in 2013, but it was picked up afterward by Dine Alone in Canada and Fat Possum records in the States, the Mississippi-based label that has helped launch the careers of artists like the Back Keys, We Are Wolves and Yuck. The whole show accordingly fell somewhere between a victory lap and the start of something new and grand.

In a short but blistering set, Solids played their unique brand of loud, reverb-soaked rock that is firmly rooted in hardcore. Songs like "Off White" and "Traces" hit with due speed and force, while slower numbers like "Haze Away" showed their ability to build an entire atmosphere of sound around a soaring melody line and the drone of Germain Poitras' bottom two guitar strings. The songs moved and breathed under their heaviness, creating a sound that was equally all-consuming and inviting. The band showed over the course of the night that when you're doing something right, it's all the better to do it really loudly.

Like any guitar/drums duo who aren't playing blues rock, Solids have inevitably gained comparisons with Vancouver's Japandroids, when all they really have in common is their wall of amps and dual lead vocals. Solids do not play pop-rock. If anything, they have more in common with Death From Above 1979, whose backbone is their assaulting, punk-rooted percussion, or even Lightning Bolt, for their speed and mixing of genres. This is innovative, fresh hardcore that honours the genre while taking it somewhere new.

There was an infectious jubilance and sense of community about the whole night, as the band took time between songs to thank their numerous old friends in the audience for their support over the years. They referenced the "release" with a wink, since virtually everyone there knew the album and probably already had a copy.

The whole night felt distinctly like the first stop of a band's first big tour after releasing their first album with a big label. The band appeared perfectly comfortable in their live routine, and played with incredible ease and competence, but there was a sense of them having stepped into a bigger arena and not quite knowing what to do yet. Guillemette reportedly quit his day job before hitting the road, making him a full-time professional musician for the first time. Based on the band's performance, this was more than warranted; now they need to take that freedom to grow as performers. Mark our words: by the end of this tour, they'll hit like a wrecking ball.

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