Words by: Alison Seroude
On Saturday evening Toronto played host to the ‘Better Ash Than Dust Tour’, which brought Stick To Your Guns, Stray From The Path, Expire and Knocked Loose to The Opera House. The two bands headlining the show have a huge presence and following in Toronto, so if you showed up expecting a small crowd you were in for quite a shock! The city loves Stick To Your Guns and Stray From The Path, so it wasn’t a surprise that you could almost instantly feel everyone’s excitement for the nights main entertainment.
Kentucky’s Knocked Loose are a relatively new band and were first to hit the stage. Their very first full-length album, ‘Laugh Tracks’ had just dropped the day prior to the show, yet in true Toronto fashion the crowd seemed very familiar with all their new music. Knocked Loose played just as many songs off of their EP as they did their full-length album, and had no trouble hyping up the audience and prepping them for the next band to take the stage.
One amazing thing about this tour, were the very minimal wait times between sets. We’ve all been there, where we’re standing in the middle of the venue looking at our watches and wondering why the next band is taking so damn long, but not on this tour! Expire were second up, and they wasted no time getting the crowd hyped by walking onto the stage with the John Cena theme song playing in the background. They immediately broke down into their first song of the night and the crowd went absolutely nuts for their entire set. If you don’t already know, Expire plan to release one more album before disbanding, and playing in a city like Toronto where we really support the bands we love, it was no surprise to see everyone throwing down as hard as they can. Expire played an amazing, adrenaline fueled show, and if that was the last time they ever played Toronto, then they left with a memorable bang!
This is the point in the night where the energy in the venue got even more electric. Stray From The Path are up, and the love that the city has for this band is just ridiculous. Drew Yorke himself even stated that Toronto is like their home away from home because we throw down for them so fucking hard! No other Canadian city can hold it down like Toronto can, and because of this, a Stray From The Path show is one that you truly cannot forget. No matter what song was played, whether it be “Damien” or “D.I.E.P.I.G.” the crowd did not let up even for a second. Bodies were flying above people’s heads and the mosh pit seemed to have engulfed the entire ground floor, but this is what you expect from a Stray From The Path performance! Even though the music has a very truthful and harsh message and the crowd is going nuts, that doesn’t stop the band from creating a safe environment for everyone. Stray From The Path have a zero-tolerance policy for hate and harassment, and in a genre with a stigma attached to it that women don’t get treated very well, it’s amazing to see a band call out that bullshit on stage while still keeping up the momentum of the show.
The entire venue seemed filled to capacity by the time Stick To Your Guns started their set. Opening with “Nobody”, the crowd instantly began moshing and wouldn’t stop until the end of the show. The crowd was kept on their toes all night and it seemed that no one was immune to the band’s energetic performance; the once full balcony had now been deserted in favor of the mosh pit. With every new song the crowd never seemed to pause or even slow down, and playing older songs off of their 2005 and 2010 albums made sure of it. Stick To Your Guns kept the atmosphere heavy and exciting consistently throughout their set, and encouraged the crowd to try to join them on stage despite the row of security and a barricade in the way. To encourage the rowdiness, the band created an amazing set list consisting of a healthy mix of songs from almost every album the band has released so far, and Stick To Your Guns strategically played their set to represent that. They started with “Nobody” off of their 2015 album ‘Disobedient’ and finished the night with “This Is More” from their 2005 record ‘For What It’s Worth’. Stick To Your Guns is a band that knows how to create an amazing atmosphere for their fans and how to keep the momentum going. In a city like Toronto where we throw down as hard as we can for the bands who show us love, it’s no wonder the night’s show turned out as amazing and crazy as it did.