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Making Mom And Dad Proud: Rockstar Taste Of Chaos @ the Metropolis, Apr. 9

Posted by Jenny / April 12, 2009

20090409_Thursday.jpg"Thursday" by flick pooler Jesse Speelman.

The Rockstar Taste of Chaos tour used to be dubbed the "Winter Warped Tour," with the notable exceptions being that TOC is smaller in scale and takes place indoors. The idea, however, remained the same: a festival-format style of arena gig, low ticket prices, about a dozen of punk / hardcore / metal bands and a handful of freebie giveaways, courtesy of some positively very bad-ass sponsors such as PETA, Hard Rock Café, MySpace Music, and a certain little energy drink mega-monster.

The key words here are "used to be." This year's tour tasted more of crisis than of chaos, with only five bands on the lineup, no longer requiring multiple, alternating stages. The Montreal date was booked at the Metropolis, down from the Uniprix Stadium of the previous years. Even at that, the venue was far from full to capacity.

Still true to its roots, the lineup featured bands from different avenues of the "alternative" music spectrum. I felt pleasantly surprised by San Diego post-hardcore/progressive quartet Pierce The Veil's set: in true Equal Vision Records fashion, lead singer Vic Fuentes high-pitched, nasal vocals was offset by intricate song structures and melodic hardcore romps. You like the aesthetic or you don't--and I do, when it is done well.

There was the perfect opportunity to end the set on a high note and leave the stage, until Pierce The Veil decide to wrap things up with a cover of Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

Now, let's explore that for a second. There is nothing wrong with cover songs, in and of itself. Not even with Michael Jackson covers. That is, unless you're doing a toughed-up, rock version of "Beat It," terribly reminiscent of a recent Fall Out Boy single.

I mean, come on, guys. You couldn't find something else to cover? It's been done. Please.

Next up were Massachusetts pop-punk act Four Year Strong who, despite the New Found Glory comparisons, most specifically reminded me of Set Your Goals, a truly talented act in this over-saturated genre, in my opinion. Showing up onstage in matching frat-house style hoodies to the sound of the Boston Bruins' goal anthem, the band proceeded to play a high-energy but otherwise completely unmemorable set.

I must be getting old, because unlike just about everybody else in the room (apparently), British youngsters Bring Me The Horizon were not the sole reason for my presence at the gig. After seeing the band on their headlining tour last December, and spending half the day on their tour bus (their sound technician on that tour is best buds with a friend of mine), I have got enough first-hand evidence not to be of the highest opinion of this Sheffield, Yorkshire act. Even following my best attempt to disregard the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles colouring books and the obscene amount of soda and alcohol on that tour bus, I still fail to see the appeal of BMTH. The sounds, the lyrics, the hair--it is all so generic, so "been there, done that," so entrenched in the aesthetic of this genre. Nothing is reinvented here. But the boys are moderately good-looking, bestowed with charming British accents, and the fans are young... and everything else is just mathematics.

Watching the mass exodus that followed BMTH's set nearly broke my heart. When your parents have financed your several hours of high-decibel fun, and that Thursday, who are sometimes hailed as the fathers of post-hardcore, are headlining, do you not owe it to yourself to stay until the end?

Handfuls of publications have called them "the next big thing" over the years, My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way has called Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly his hero and inspiration for getting into music--and yet, after ten years in the business, the band has never really made the anticipated glorious break-through. This has sometimes been attributed (or blamed on, depending on how you see things) on Rickly's reserved, introverted nature. However, upon seeing the band live, the attraction is undeniable: Rickly is one of the most honest and genuine, not to mention skilled, songwriters in the scene right now.

Looking no different from the videos of the band's early days, a skinny, tooth-gapped Rickly bent and swayed onstage, starting things off with "At This Velocity," the single off 2005's "A City By The Light Divided." The lead singer shut his eyes, as if feeling each note for the first time.

The set made perfect use of songs old and new, including almost all of their singles, namely "Jet Black New Year," which Rickly could not help introducing without mentioning the now long-over conflict with Victory Records. In mid-set, Rickly dedicated a song to his mom and dad, who had driven twelve hours from New Jersey to see the band play. I turned around, trying to catch a glimpse. It didn't take me long. As it turned out, Mr. and Mrs. Rickly stood a mere ten feet behind me.

Thursday's message is one of hope and of peace. After playing "Cross Out The Eyes," much to their older fans' delight, the band wrapped things up with "War All The Time", which they said was their first time playing the song in Montreal since it's been written. They could not have ended on a better note.

I chatted up Rickly's parents after the show. They were a lovely couple, obviously very supportive of their son's unorthodox career choice. Mrs. Rickly even tipped me off as to which of the tour buses in the back was Thursday's, in case I wanted to stick around to meet the band.

"Unfortunately, I cannot stay long," I told her. "Got to be up bright and early tomorrow. I am for the workforce, drowning."

Mrs. Rickly recognized the quote and smiled in appreciation.

Photo: "Bring Me the Horizon" by flick pooler Jesse Speelman.



Mo / April 14, 2009 at 11:02 pm
the last lines that you wrote made me smile. Thursday is such a under-appreciated band and taste of chaos isn't what it used to be. keep up the good work!
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