Photography By: Adam Harrison
Words By: Gerrod Harris
On Sunday, June 11th, Toronto’s Budweiser Stage was truly the place to be with a double headliner show from punk rock veterans Rise Against and alternative metal visionaries Deftones. The show also featured opening sets from Thrice and Three Trapped Tigers.
Hailing from London, England, Three Trapped Tigers opened up the show with a short set of largely instrumental progressive music. Combining the polyrhythmic nature of Animals As Leaders with the ambiance of the Deftones, the band had a very unique sound to them and displayed a very high level of musicianship. The trio, consisting of drums, guitar, and keys (and occasional vocal harmonies from the guitarist and keyboardist) demonstrated their strong musicianship at the expensive of their stage show, where their still nature and largely instrumental repertoire may have left some of the audience with a feeling of losing interest. While their set was certainly tight, there were definitely particular areas which needed improvement in order to give the full concert experience.
With an impressively short changeover time, Thrice took the stage to a crowd that was energetically awaiting them. The band has always straddled a blend of styles which bridges U2 and post-punk bands like At The Drive In, and their genre crossing nature is most apparent in their live show as they run through emotion filled ballads and softer parts, and then into blisteringly heavy breakdowns. Thrice opened their performance with the power ballad “Hurricane” and built their eight song set up with heavier and heavier tracks, including “Call It In The Air”, “Black Honey”, “The Long Defeat”, “The Window” and closing with “The Earth Will Shake”. For long-time fans of the band, the set was short but covered a wide range of their career, and for newer fans, such as myself, Thrice put on a performance that was the perfect introduction to their music and had left me wanting more.
Opening their set with “Headup”, Deftones took the stage in an immediately ferocious manner. Continuing to tour off of their latest release, 2016’s Gore, the band’s set only actually included one song from the record, “Phantom Bride”. The rest of the set ran through much of their career, but focused heavily on 2000’s White Pony – including “Digital Bath”, “Back To School (Mini Maggit)”, “Elite” and “Change (In The House Of Flies)”- and 2010’s Diamond Eyes– including the title track, “You’ve Seen The Butcher”, and the brutally heavy closer, “Rocket Skates”. You would never believe that vocalist Chino Moreno had recently fallen offstage and injured his foot when watching him run, jump, and stomp across the stage like a volatile whirlwind of pure aggression and oddly enough, charisma. As always, the band was incredibly tight, largely due to drummer Abe Cunningham, who consistently lays down some of the solidest grooves on this side of metal, along with bassist Sergio Vega who also keeps the band on track, all the while guitarist Stephen Carpenter provides the band with a level of unrelentingly heavy riffs and chords- even at times sporting a Louis Vuitton ax- while Moreno switches from smooth melodic vocals, rapped verses, and throat wrenching screams on a whim. If this concert proved anything, it was that the Deftones remain as one of alternative rocks strongest and most distinct performers to date who seem to get better with age. Their Toronto set proved to be as nostalgic as it was fresh as even the band appeared to have the time of their lives laying out a blistering career spanning performance that acts as a reminder to the band’s prominence and relevance in today’s modern world as the veterans and visionaries that they are.
Rise Against took the stage shortly after to a nearly sold out audience who had been anxiously and enthusiastically awaiting them with a hard hitting set that solidifies the reason as to why they’re one of the top tier punk bands to reach prominence in the 2000’s. While saying that, and not to tke away from their performance, all the acts, up until this point made sense on the same bill, and while Deftones and Rise Against share a certain punk energy as well as an aggressive approach to their music and stage show, it was an odd shift and quite a few people who were seated in my section during Deftones had left early. Again, Rise Against put their all out there last night, but the tour’s lineup may appear questionable to some fans. Coming off of last week’s release of Wolves, their lasted full length record, Rise Against opened with “Ready To Fall”. Despite the new album, the band’s set largely consisted of their hits, including “Satellite”, “Help Is On The Way”, and “Survive”. Truly, no one has delivered modern punk in such an anthem like manner as every song proved to be larger than life. As a highlight, lead vocalist and guitarist Tim McIlrath performed “People Live Here” in a solo and emotion filled manner. This was the only moment in which their set let up from head banging punk bangers, but it was also one of the show’s most interesting and contrasting moments. From the new album, the band performed “The Violence”, “Wolves” and “Welcome To The Breakdown”- a track which took a very old school punk rock approach to express political frustration and was among the standout songs from the band’s set. To close their set, the band ended with their explosive 2009 hit, “Saviour”. My only complaint about their set was the sound was too distorted and fuzzy to properly make out much of anything. Yes, I know its punk rock and I sound like a fogey, but I would have preferred to hear the nuances of their music just a little bit more.
All in all, the Rise Against and Deftones co-headlining Toronto show was the perfect way to start or end your week. That being said, and once again, nothing against Rise Against, but Deftones stole the show. They proved to be a tough act to follow and between their music, stage show, and clarity of sound, they were the definite highlight of the night. Despite that, the show gave audiences a diverse range of instrumental progressive metal, post-punk, alternative rock/metal, and modern punk as a sample of some of the best of what is around in today’s modern rock landscape.