Torche / Nothing / Wrong Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, March 21

Torche / Nothing / Wrong Lee's Palace, Toronto ON, March 21
Photo: Stephen McGill
Sludgy hardcore unit Wrong set the pace with crushing low-end riffing. With Torche drummer Rick Smith filling in on drums, the quartet smashed out a nine-song set, featuring a number of tracks from their 2014 EP Stop Giving. The band blend nu-metal-isms from the '90s and early '00s into their sound, employing hypnotic, recurring low-end riffs that brought the sparse crowd closer with every song.
Before Nothing began, the stage lights dimmed and an eerie sample of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Song" was played over the PA, creating a chaotic, unnerving ambience as the sample faded into howling feedback. Although they are often pegged as a post-shoegaze band, Nothing's live performance abandons the genre's namesake, favouring a vigorous, animated stage presence over the passive stance contemporaries are known for. This is in part due to the band's noisy, gritty live sound coming across as more powerful than their recordings. The layers of reverb that add a delicate feel to their recorded vocals are foregone in a live setting, and more dissonant elements amongst the instrumentals are introduced. The rumbling bass tone is especially notable, being loud enough in the mix to be acknowledged at all times, and acting as the driving force for many of the songs.
Dominic Palermo and Brandon Setta share vocals, going back and forth while harmonizing throughout the band's eight-song set. The band's transition from the dreamier "Somersault" to "Downward Years To Come" was especially powerful, finding the band holding completely still at the end of the former only to unleash an unbridled wall of sound upon beginning the latter. The band closed their set with "B&E," which built to an epic, cacophonous conclusion as all four members simultaneously brought their sonic assault to a dead halt.
Torche opened with "Piraña" and immediately followed it up with "Sandstorm," both from the band's 2008 LP Meanderthal, whipping the crowd into a frenzy, moshing and banging their heads to the unrelenting beats and guttural low end of the band's guitar tone. Steve Brooks' vocal performance was almost identical to recordings, reaching the highest and lowest points of his vocal spectrum with ease. The vocals did however occasionally seem to be drowned out in the live mix.
The band managed to keep the pacing of their set varied, switching from the full blast of tracks like "Healer" to the trudging, slower songs like "Minions." The set list featuresd songs mostly from older releases in the first half, but closer to the end, the band unleashed a steady stream of bone-crushingly heavy tracks from their most recent LP Restarter. The band closed their set with Restarter's Earth-shattering opener "Annihilation Affair" only to be followed by a two song encore featuring the other two most powerful tracks; "Charge of the Brown Recluse" and "Harmonslaught" rounded off an impressive night of heavy music.