Words/Photography By: Raven Benwait

The first day of April did not only include April Fools pranks, but kicked off the start of a month filled with awesome live music. On their one and only Canadian date of the Spring 2015 Tour, La Dispute, Title Flight and The Hotelier made their way to Toronto’s very own Phoenix Concert Theatre stage.

Upon arriving to the sold out show, there was already a huge line forming outside the venue, filled with people of all ages, as there was only a limited amount of tickets being sold at the door. You could feel the excitement rising as Torontonians were standing in the chilly spring weather enthusiastically waiting to enter the venue.

The show began exactly on time at 7:30 pm, when Massachusetts band The Hotelier hopped onto the Phoenix stage bringing their “spring is coming” vibe. The Hotelier opened up their set with music from their album Home, Like Noplace is There. Listening to them start their set, you could get a feel for their Punkish Indie style. It was nice to see their fans who were joining Christian Holden, as he was singing along the gentle instrumental led by the guitarist, building up intensity with the kind of crescendo that makes you want to jump into the sky.

Songs like “Your Deep Rest” and “Among the Wildflowers” make you think about loss, pain and mourning – something we can all relate to. “Life in Drag” started off the crowd surfing of the night, with Holden’s screaming and head-banging along with the fans.

Before releasing Home, Like Noplace is There, on a tumblr post, vocalist Holden said “Our new album deals with some real dark stuff. So to all my brooding and slightly damaged friends, have your a happy album or Rugrats in Paris nearby.”

After The Hotelier, Punk rock fans began to fill the Phoenix venue, as Title Flight was next on the bill.

Title Flight came into this tour supporting their newest album Hyperview. Upon opening up the set, crowd reactions were not too pleasant as many of them were not pumped with Title Flight’s change of sound, but once they led into a fan favourite, “Shed” several fans knew the words and began screaming them.

Title Flight fans became very lively when they heard some Floral Green. “Like a Ritual”, “Leaf”, “Numb, But I Still Feel It,” “Make You Cry,” “Frown” – it felt like they were out here supporting their album Floral Green just as much as Hyperview, as they would switch back and forth, transitioning very nicely through the songs. The fan base was large, consisting of all ages, especially youngsters who were crowd surfing every few seconds.

The biggest disappointment of the night was the enormous gate with loads of security blocking off the stage.  Each time I would crowd surf, I wanted to jump on stage and feel that amazing moment where I get to stage dive, but instead would be grabbed by security and sent to the back which was a real downer. A Punk show is a place where all kids come together and enjoy Punk Rock with the live music, mosh-pits, stage dives and crowd surfing. Blocking off the stage takes away from the experience of a hardcore Punk show.

Each member contributed to a sweet performance – Shane Morgan with his clean 6-string guitar tones, accompanied with Ben Russin’s precise drumming, holding down great rhythm with his brother Ned Russin along with Jamie Rhoden who were killing it with their vocals which meshed very well together.

Despite a huge change in their newer album, people did enjoy “Rose of Sharon,” which Rhoden introduced saying “I’m not trying to save the world, I’m not trying to be famous. I am just trying to figure out my place in this world.” Now this is a line all of the Title Flight fans can relate to, with the deep, intense emotional lyrics.

Closing with another older one, Secret Society, the rebellious fans lost their heads and went wild, pissing off security which was loads of fun! According to the crowd cheers at the end, fans were satisfied. Title Flight belongs on the stage.

The venue was jam packed at this point and after much anticipation, La Dispute was finally on stage tuning their instruments. I’ve got to point out one thing about the Phoenix Concert Theatre – the lighting is very colourful! It definitely adds to the entertainment of the night.

Finally, Michigan band La Dispute began their set with an original Indie-Punk feel. The fans began singing the moment the band opened up with “King Park” which is a song that tells the story of a drive-by shooting killing an innocent child. With the sad, emotional lyrics, front man Jordan Dreyer was expressing his emotions with the crowd who was singing along.

Despite guitarist Kevin Whittemore leaving the band, the guys held it together great. Adam Vass and Chad Sterenberg did a good job keeping the rhythm section in tune, of course with the help of Brad Vander Lugt on his drums. The highlight of the entire band definitely had to be Dreyer’s vocals, as he was constantly interacting with the crowd with his energetic stage presence.

La Dispute was supporting their recent 2014 album Rooms of the House – “First Reactions After Falling Through the Ice,” “Woman in Mirror,” and “The Child we Lost 1963.” They also included music from Wildlife and Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair. It was nice to hear the Punk rock guitar going, yet with the little twist of the alternative vocals and the Indie feel to it. It is definitely a cool mix.

To be completely honest, I was surprised by the crowd’s reactions, as they were surfing and moshing. I expected a calmer crowd who would be head-banging and screaming lyrics, as I find these guys to be a more lyrically focused band. But again, everyone connects to different music in different ways.

La Dispute gave a good musical performance and kept the crowd entertained through the set. I think it’s safe to say that the band had a great time on stage and the fans left the venue satisfied with the night.

Despite the Phoenix Concert Theatre closing off the front of the stage, it didn’t stop the fans from body surfing. Overall, a fantastic way to kick off Toronto’s music scene this April!

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