Words By: Alison Seroude
Ladies and djentlemen! Once again The Contortionist and Monuments have torn apart the Hard Luck this past Tuesday night. Opening for the two bands were Entheos and Sleepmakeswaves (Sydney, Australia). Sleepmakeswaves were essentially the only band on the bill to play an instrumental set, but unfortunately both Entheos and Monuments had to go vocals free due to not being able to get over the border (not that this should surprise any of you since it seems to happen more often than desired). However, this didn’t deter either band from putting on an amazing set.
Australia’s own Sleepmakeswaves were first up with their melodic-rock instrumentals. Sleepmakeswaves were a perfect opening band to the night as they soothed the audience into the rest of the show. Their rock instrumentals also provided Toronto with the unique experience of being able to enjoy three very different instrumental sets. While some are put off by instrumentals, Sleepmakeswaves really helps to make you see that there are some instrumental bands by hitting you with their amazing melodies and knowledge of music composition.
As mentioned earlier, Entheos (featuring past members of The Faceless, Animals As Leaders and Animosity) were missing their front-woman, Chaney Crabb (she famously auditioned to replace Brandon of Veil Of Maya in 2014). In the metal community where female fronted bands are uncommon, it was a shame Toronto was unable to watch her perform since her deep vocals shock all first time listeners when they find out Crabb is female. As powerful as her performance would’ve been, Entheos still killed it without her help and left Toronto with a taste of what they truly have to offer.
After two instrumental sets, the last instrumental band was Monuments. This band seems to really love playing in Toronto because they seem to stop by once a year. Since this is Toronto, if a band shows us love, we tend to reciprocate, and Monuments is no exception. Since Barretto was unable to perform, the entire venue (which was packed at this point) sang along the words to every single song and moshed like I’d never seen at The Hard Luck. One amazing fan daunting a red t-shirt even took to the stage for a song to do all of the clean and heavy vocals! With Monuments’ extreme musical technicality, it was no surprise to see that they were able to rely on their instruments alone. Monuments’ crazy off-timing and beautiful melodies just go to show that the band is just as strong without Barretto and could probably stand alone if he were to quit the band. HOWEVER, without Barretto’s vocals and lyrics, the entire venue wouldn’t have been singing along to replace him for the night. This created such an intimate mood between the crowd and the band that wouldn’t have been accomplished without their vocalist (even in his absence). This was especially true during “The Uncollective”; since this is a song Monuments seems to rarely play every fan was singing along. Although, personally, I’ve seen Monuments more than I can count and I was a bit bummed that the first time Toronto ever got to hear “The Uncollective“ live was also the first time Barretto couldn’t perform.
After such an amazing and intimate set, The Contortionist was left with a tough act to follow. Sorry guys, but Monuments may have out shined you Tuesday night! The Contortionist opened their set with “Integration” and meticulously played every song just as perfectly as you would hear on record. The entire band was super tight and in-sync while Michael Lessard’s vocals were spot on. There is literally nothing you can pick apart about The Contortionist’s overall musical performance since they sound exactly like they do on record. The only downside to having a band play so meticulously perfect is that they tend to have less of a stage presence. I understand that though, djent isn’t easy and it’s a super tedious genre to play, but when you’re playing a show most of the crowd doesn’t expect you to hit every note correctly. Lessard’s vocals are amazing, but his stage presence (and the rest of the band) could definitely use a little more energy. Unlike Monuments where the crowd was going crazy for the whole set, The Contortionist seemed to have toned down the vibe of the venue leaving people to watch their perfect set. It wasn’t until fan-favorite songs like “Flourish“ and “Holomovement” began to play that the whole crowd would start to really get into their performance. Don’t let that deter you from seeing The Contortionist though, their musical performance and how they’ve perfected every song is definitely worth going to see live, you won’t hear any other band sound exactly like they’re supposed to on a record. Overall though, performance wise, they sounded great and you can really get into it if you know their songs well and enjoy moshing but if you’re going to your first show (or dragging a friend to their first), you should probably go for a band with higher stage presence since you might find The Contortionist a little on the boring side.
- The Uncollective
- Empty Vessels Make the Most Noise
- Stygian Blue
- I, The Creator
The Contortionist Setlist:
- The Parable
- Primordial Sound
- Language I: Intuition
- Language II: Conspire