Review: Saturday Night @ The Opera House

I'm under the opinion that Saturdays should always be rowdy. You've worked hard for it. You've pinched every penny all week. You probably won't be making it to 10am mass Sunday morning any ways. This particular Saturday was a wicked one, yet for some reason the crowd was stagnant as a pale green scum-pond. There was no lack of passion coming from promoters or bands... so... I blame it on the $6 drink price. People simply weren't drunk enough to lose their inhibitions and throw themselves around like rag dolls of habit. "Well, there WERE a few crazy emo kids," my friend John reminded. "They were just flying around the pit like 'Aghhhh I Hate My Dad!!!' ... It was awesome!"

When my sister and I first arrived, I realized we were in the midst of that MTV Show Headbangers Ball circa 1986. A whirlwind of hair three times' the length of mine whipped around front and center stage with fervent intensity. "And they said Metal was dead," my sister joked. Though Intensify isn't my poison of choice, I couldn't help but feel the energy generated by such a loyal following.

Dropnote has always struck me as a very hard-working band... but not hard-working in the traditional Myspace-friend-adding, fancy website designing sense. They're industrious in the old-fashioned legwork sense - speaking to fans and potential fans at shows, making contacts with promoters and other bands. While I find their refusal to play the internet game insightful, I wasn't thrilled by their older tracks. The newest additions and closing songs of the evening broke up the monotony with intriguing segments that remained true to the heavy metal formula but also added some much-needed texture, if that makes any sense.

I hadn't caught Rumsfield live since late August. Believe me, it's been painful at times. Luckily I've got two devout Rumsfield followers - Glenn and Dave - who filter me live videos and news to fill the void. The latest news is that Rumsfield has just finished a video for the quixotic and uncharacteristically calm "Mass Heart Attack", which has been approved for medium rotation on Much Music. They opted to squeeze the song into their setlist tonight, which surprised me at first, yet seemed to fit in perfectly, lulling the audience into apathy before walloping them over the head with its latent intensity. It was a great opportunity to chat with the band, a friendly and personable bunch, even catching a word with the bassist who I’ve lovingly deemed "the Lost Baldwin". As always, they brought an action-packed set.


Future's Past tried their best to inspire a sluggish and downtrodden crowd with energetic songs like "Episodes" and "Letter of No Return". It was a pleasure to see them again after the release of their full length Tragic Hero and especially to see them with my sister who’s never witnessed a FP show before. Manager Steve was running around all over the place with gear in his hands or tasks on his plate. "I really think the boys should've played last night. It was more their crowd," he admitted. "They really wanted to rock with Brass Knuckle Therapy so it's a disappointment that there was an illness preventing the band from being here tonight." Nevertheless, I wasn't bummed out.

Since my EP review, I was interested to catch Condemned live. "I'm glad you came," singer Jorge admits, "because the Condemned you're going to see tonight is totally different than the Condemned you listened to at home. That was us 9 months ago but we've evolved since then and after this we'll be taking a break to really work on finishing our full length." I wasn't prepared for the heavy twist that set them into a category closer to Intensify and Dropnote, rather than Baroque or even Pantera. Their stuff is harder, faster and more intense, if you can even imagine. I have never heard so many false endings to a song before! "We really try to take the crowd’s expectations and warp them," Jorge adds.

Jessica of Bloodshot Eye puts the girls from Kittie to shame with her guttural growls and paradoxically friendly, humble disposition as she thanks the crowd for coming out. Musically the band fell short of impressive but the singer's ferocity was enough to draw people into the flames. The main point here was to FEEL. Since the lyrics aren't readily discernable, the real heart of death metal comes in release of emotion and the small pit of people left didn't hesitate to dance or head bang to this Leamington-based band.

Salem Saints. Wow. Where do I begin? Would you like a 500-word comparative essay on the stage presence of Salem Saints and the stage presence of Guns N Roses? Or would you rather hear a rant about why I think this genre shouldn't have left the garage any time after 1989? You know all of this is probably irrelevant since the band had a hard enough gig as it is - playing to fifteen people - most of which were slightly disgruntled and not drunk enough or else were required to stay at the venue for one reason or another. Yet it's worth noting, if you were a 40-year-old cougar looking for young blood, you might have been tantalized. As a filler band for originally slated Brass Knuckle Therapy, they put forth an honest classic rock effort and rarely missed a note... but if I were grading on originality and intrigue, they wouldn't have made the grade.

Overall, it was a night to write home about.

About The Venue - The Opera House


The Sound: LOUD. Decent for Toronto.

The People: Always varies depending on the show. Usually they're enthusiastic...

The Atmosphere:
I always liked The Opera House for shows. With strange paintings of people emerging through the walls, a rockin balcony and a sizable environment, it's really the perfect size and texture for a loud rock club. The only problem is that sometimes people congregate around the back bar and leave too much empty space near the front. Yet other times, the place will assuredly be packed solid.

The Drinks: $6 even for beer. But don't think you can arrive shit-faced and still barge in. The security will look at you with a shrewd eye even if you're sober. Better come armed with cash or generous friends.

Venue Rating:4/5
1- I'd rather die than go to this pit of filth.
2- If you get me drunk enough I'd like it
3- A decent night out but my headphones have better sound
4- Definitely rockin with killer sound
5- My lifeblood. Toronto's finest.

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