COLISEUM with CALIFORNIA X, GREYS, TV FREAKS and CELLOS at the Horseshoe, Wednesday, May 15. Rating: NNN
The pink and white lotus flower growing out of a skull on the cover of Coliseum's new record, Sister Faith, pretty much says it all. The band has gone soft. The Kentucky trio's first releases, 2004's self-titled LP and 2007's No Salvation, had them nicely splitting the difference between metalcore and punk - a little dated even at the time, but no less aggro and earnest. Now they're...something different, all harmonies and unmemorable hooks. Mellow post-hardcore, maybe?
Coliseum singer/guitarist Ryan Patterson thanked the thin crowd at the Horseshoe for sticking with them as they've moved in different directions. And while it's of course totally fine and OK for a band to do whatever the hell it wants, it's equally acceptable for fans to lose interest in a band when they stop sounding like themselves (or a certain iteration of themselves). Luckily, promoter Dan Burke rounded out the bill with four other bands that far outshone the so-so headliner.
Windsor's Cellos opened with a short set of heavy, Helmet-ish metal. Then Hamilton's TV Freaks - one of the regions coolest rock bands, and one that always seems to have a problem padding out crowds at Toronto gigs - burned through a set of speedy punk, including a number of tracks from the forthcoming second LP (due in July). Toronto's Greys, in town for a brief tour stopover, were carried on the Freaks' momentum, pounding out the tech-y, grunge-y, super catchy rock they've made their stock and trade.
If anyone should have been top-billed, it was California X. Hailing from Amherst, Massachusetts, the band shares a hometown with guitar-grunge legends Dinosaur Jr. There must be something in the drinking water. Like Dino Jr., California X moves lengthy, elaborate solos to the fore of punk music, as if they're daring anyone who thinks solos are indulgent to not enjoy it. Their single, "Sucker" pushes seven minutes and not a second is wasted. These guys are great. The music is loud, the riffs are tighter than a tourniquet, and they've got the long hair to back it all up. Great record, too.