Show Review: The Flatliners

Sometimes a band just connects with what you're needing at that moment in time. The Flatliners delivered the perfect concoction of break-neck guitar rhythms, complimentary solos, singalong lyrics, rowdy backup vocals and danceable interludes last night at the Reverb. They had all the makings of kickass "skunk rock", which is defined by the band as "the combination of two-tone ska and brain hemorrhaging punk rock".

Frontman Chris Cresswell crams a lot of lyrics into catchy verses that drive the crowd into a circle pit frenzy. With influences like the Suicide Machines and Operation Ivy, he sings about politics, the hardships of growing up and the various people he's encountered. Despite the substantial lyrics, Chris's demeanor shouts out FUN. "Do you guys know the song 'Spill Your Guts'?" he inquires, amid shouts of recognition. "Good cuz we're not playing it... just kidding! I'm just fucking with you guys!" he laughs, busting into song.

Chris and other guitarist Scott Brigham play off each other, changing the tempo in a schizophrenic frenzy - one moment jamming a quick ska chord, the next minute bringing in a heavier mosh-worthy riff, then breaking down to a Rancid-esque solo, continually switching up the tempo to leave audiences reeling... but in a good way! Unlike many punk bands, their songs don't sound all the same.

Drummer Paul Ramirez is in his own zen, his animated expressions revealing how much heart he's putting into the show. While keeping a grueling pace, Paul's always challenging himself to go faster, harder, further than before. His fluctuating beats will dictate whether people run around in circles, take out all their angst and frustration, nod their heads or bust into a light-hearted dance.

Dred-headed Jon Darbey watches the audience closely to detect any ounce of boredom and strums out a "Glass" (Incubus) interlude on his bass while anxiously awaiting the start of their set. Not only is he a master at filling empty airspace, but his riffs are an integral part of the songs, carrying unique melodies of their own.

"I've seen The Flatliners more than any other band," one enthusiastic fan declares. "Yeah, I've probably seen them about thirty times, which would put me to roadie status." The audience is much more enthusiastic than your typical Toronto crowd. They've got their fists raised in the air, shouting out lyrics, dancing, pushing, running, clapping and buying merchandise.

"Let me tell you something about The Flatliners," Heatskores frontman Eddy Earwigg bellows during their set. "Some bands just get by on contacts... but these guys worked their asses off to get where they are today!" To show his punk rock respect, Eddy hopped onstage later and poured beer up Chris's nose. Not to be "bullied", Chris graciously wiped his face off on Eddy's shirt, adding to the wildly entertaining and unexpected stage antics.


Formed in 2002, just teenagers trying to survive highschool, The Flatliners received early praise from 102.1 The Edge and Much Music. They're currently touring Eastern Canada with The Ceremonial Snips, hitting up New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia in upcoming months.

"We've got the heart and mind to mix in with the gasoline," Chris chants. With a new CD set to debut July 17th, the band's addictive sound truly is spreading like wildfire. To catch their full intensity, I'd highly recommend catching a show before the summer's over. Better do your homework because you will definitely want to singalong or maybe even hop onstage for their last song.

You Might Like If You're Into: The Suicide Machines, Operation Ivy, Antiflag, Rancid, Choking Victim, Morning Glory

Next Concert Date:
July, 10th @ The Merchant Ale House, St. Catherines 5:30pm

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