Strife/To the Lions/Reign Supreme/Fired Up at The Kathedral

Last weekend, on the 11th, Strife returned for their first Toronto show in 11 years. I have had countless friends tell me that Strife’s last show here, which was with Sick of it All, changed their life. I can’t say that they ever had the same effect on me. Despite the fact that I was moderately interested in seeing Strife, I was far more excited about the rest of the bill. Fired Up is second to only The First Step in the best youth crew band category right now (they share members too), Reign Supreme is fronted by the guy who wrote some of Blacklisted’s best material and To the Lions are one of the best local bands around right now. I was most excited about Razzle Dazzle, but it was brought to my attention earlier in the day that they wouldn’t be playing. Definite bummer.

I had Mother’s Day festivities to attend to earlier in the afternoon. After they wrapped up I made the long bike ride from Davenport and Dundas to my place to grab some dvds and then back towards the venue in order to do some setting up for the show. Doors opened shortly after 7 at the time Hoibak and Strife had arrived and people quickly started to filter in.

First on was Fired Up. They will never top the first time I saw them. The first time I saw these guys was in a house and it will probably be one of the best shows I ever see. Come to think of it though, this was the first time I saw them outside of a house. That aside, this band is great. It’s a fresh take on youth crew, with technical drumming and creative riffing. They did a cover of Youth of Today’s “Expectations” and closed out with the title track from their 7″, “When the Lights Go Out,” which is a phenomenal song. They also played a few new songs which were alright. One’s up on their myspace.

After Fired Up was Reign Supreme. I’ve been on the fence with these guys since the 7″. I really enjoy the songs, but the recording kind of bugs me. The gang vocals are too much sometimes. That said, my reservations were gone after they played. I was sitting at the back and actually got up to go in the pit when they played “Failure”. They are wild on stage. Jay, the singer, (look out for the interview soon) was all over the place, constantly pushing the crowd to participate. And for a guy whose vocal presence is pretty intimidating, he is actually an incredibly friendly guy off stage. It seemed that some of the crowd left after RS finished up their set, which I just don’t understand.

To The Lions followed Reign Supreme. To The Lions are great because they do what they do only because they love it. The funny thing about it is that they are surprised that they are relatively successful because of it. It’s great to see a local band grow this much with no desire other than to do what they love. It was great to see them play before Strife and hold their own. Kids were all over the stage, diving and singing along. The one thing I think is fair criticism is that they play a bit too long of a set sometimes. I would’ve been just as satisfied with two or three less of their 3 minute ragers last Sunday. Otherwise, this band is solid. They deliver every time.

Strife was there to close out the night. As I said before, I’ve never been crazy about Strife. I think they were just before my time. That said, people went off for them and they were incredibly tight. I’m pretty positive they opened with “Waiting”. Whatever it was, the room exploded. I’m sure several retired moshers were up front punishing their future-selves. They played a rather short set. It was somewhere under 30 minutes and they basically had to be dragged out on stage to play “Force of Change,” which was sang by Klint, the bassist from Reign Supreme. One of the lowlights was whatever song it was they played off Angermeans. No one knew it, and if they did, they made it evident that they didn’t care. Otherwise it was an impressive set by a band that never plays anymore.

The venue cleared out rather quickly after Strife and so was the end of another great show in Toronto. One thing I’d like to note is that there were a couple of nazi skins that showed up to this show. They were quickly ejected by some S.H.A.R.P. dudes. Thanks go out to them for identifying these guys and asking them to leave.

On a lighter note, all photos for this review were provided by Canice Leung. You can check out a music photography site that she operates with two other notorious Toronto shutterbugs, one being friend Jess Baumung, here.

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