POWER TRIP, IRON REAGAN, TOMB MOLD and WILD SIDE at Velvet Underground, Friday, March 10. Rating: NNNN
There’s usually a lot less happening in town this time of year with all the musicians, journalists, tech bros and industry types flocking to Austin for SXSW. So Friday night’s Power Trip show offered a little solace for those of who chose to stay in town, because why go to Texas when Texas can come to you?
Apart from some asshole groping people at the front of the stage, the mixed crowd of metalheads and hardcore punks were relatively well behaved.
First the floor belonged to the punks, with Niagara Falls hardcore band Wild Side kicking the night off (not since Van Halen’s Jump video have I seen a band or its fans do so many high-kicks) with an energetic set. Typically, when Wild Side play Toronto they bring the rest of Niagara with them and judging by the early crowd, this show was no different. The band’s muscular riffs were a mosher’s delight.
The changeover from studded punks to headbangers was pretty evident as local death metal outfit Tomb Mold took the stage. Though on their latest record, Primordial Malignity, the band is a guitar/drum duo, they filled out their ranks with a second guitarist and bassist, which was the only way any guitar could be heard above vocalist and percussionist Max Klebanoff’s heavy and truly evil drumming.
Iron Reagan’s set was the first act to bridge the gap between the divided crowd. Their brand of throwback thrash does a good enough job of that on its own, but covering hardcore band Cro-Mags didn’t hurt. The Richmond, Virginia group made it to the gig by the skin of their teeth, after their drummer was denied entry into the country a few days prior. Had they not told the audience they were enlisting the help of three drummers – a guy named Jordan who they’d just met, J.J. from Molson-metal act Skull Fist, and Power Trip’s own Chris Ulsh – there would’ve been no indication anything was out of the ordinary. That border drama also gave their set an air of triumph, but nailing all of their material and the cover really drove that victory home.
With the floor packed for the main event, Power Trip announced their arrival with a crash of distorted electronics. It’s that same sound that intros Soul Sacrifice, the first track on their new album, Nightmare Logic. The song slowly builds into a blinding fury, setting the pace for the five-piece’s brief but impactful set.
They spent equal time on new songs like Executioner’s Tax (Swing Of The Axe) and older ones like Suffer No Fool, which has been with the band in various incarnations for almost the entirety of their near-decade long existence. There’s a versatility to Power Trip’s music that gives is a cross-genre appeal. It’s born from their sensitivity to honouring both metal and punk styles, and equal to the weight they placed on their old and new material.
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