Everyone who enjoys hardcore was gathered at Club Soda to celebrate the release of Drain‘s new album with a monster night filled with a line-up full of amazing bands. There was a festive atmosphere in the air as this felt like the first big hardcore show of the summer season.
Our hometown heroes, Prowl, were selected to open up the evening. If you don’t know Prowl yet, they are the next big Canadian hardcore band and have recently completed a full tour of the US. Unfortunately for me tonight, I didn’t arrive in time to catch their short performance. I have seen them live a few times, however, and I know they are a powerhouse live. Their style of metallic hardcore can be appreciated by both the hardcore enthusiasts and the metalheads and is guaranteed to make you headbang and move your feet. Their last album, “The Forgotten Realms,” was among my top albums of 2022. I was disappointed not to make it in time, but they played less than 20 minutes. The local Montreal Hardcore scene showed up early to support them.
Combust from NYC was up next in this gauntlet of hardcore. I was unfamiliar with them and was excited to check them out. They brought that classic New York hardcore sound reminiscent of Madball, infusing bouncy riffs and groove to some heavy hardcore beats. Their vocalist brings that tough NYHC persona to the stage and his charismatic performance was noted by many. Combust are an interesting band mixing the more modern hardcore while showcasing their classic late 80s influences. A very strong set on their part made me give their 2022 album “Another Life” a few spins.
Gel, the female-fronted hardcore band, was up next. They have been riding a wave of critical acclaim for their fantastic new record “Only Constant” and their phenomenal live performance. After Combust, we got to see a whole different side of hardcore with Gel where the music is fast, aggressive and unrelentless. Their set was energetic and hectic and captured very well the fiery passion from their studio performances. The fast chunky guitar riffs were combined with a crunchy bass line as the vocalist screamed and howled. The songs are fast and short, and it’s what seems to make their set seem so powerful.
North Carolina straight-edge hardcore band Magnitude was up next. They brought the classic straight-edge hardcore sound combined with their positive message. Their music is the quintessential hardcore sound made for moshing in the pit. People were dancing in unison over the chunky guitar riffs as others were diving off the stage. In true hardcore fashion, the fans piled on to each other to sing along to the iconic words of straight edge anthem “To Whatever Fateful End.” A powerful performance for a veteran hardcore band that was enjoyed by the hardcore purists.
The almighty Drug Church was up the next band. Drug Church have played Montreal a few times and are a fantastic live band. They are definitely one of the bands that get better in a live setting and that is thanks to the charismatic frontman Patrick Kindlon. He has the ability to get the crowd excited and is one of the most entertaining frontmen in the punk rock world. They played a set focusing on their newer material with ferocious energy. As mentioned previously, I prefer Drug Church in a live setting as they bring to the stage an extra layer of intensity and energy that is not there on the studio version.
Patrick encouraged the crowd to pack into the front of the venue to let everyone stage dive safely. He mentioned this was a warm-up for the madness that was coming up. It is quite rare these days to be able to access the stage freely with no barriers or pesky security guards in the way, and the crowd relished the opportunity. For the rest of their set, it seemed like a constant flow of fans climbing on the stage and jumping into the crowd. They finished up their set with one of my favourite newer tracks, “Million Miles of Fun,” off their 2022 album Hygiene.
After a short interlude, the surf music started pipping in through the PA system and the crew on stage started throwing out beach balls into the crowd. However, the fans were already prepared as they brought their own inflatable beach toys to party with Drain. Everyone gathered tonight was not ready for the collective madness we were about to live. I thought it was going to be difficult to top their last show in Montreal at Le Ritz, but I was about to be surprised.
As soon as the intro finished and the band launched into “Feel the Pressure,” it was complete and utter chaos in the venue. Inflatable balloons, animals and every imaginable shape were flying everywhere as a never-ending wave of people jumped off the stage into the crowd who were piling onto each other to sing along. I have been to many shows in my life, and this one may have been one of the craziest I have ever lived through. It felt surreal as the beach toys were flying everywhere, as the gathered fans were two-stepping in the mosh pit and constantly stage diving.
Drain mixed up tracks off their new album Living Proof with some of their fan-favourite material off their classic 2020 California Cursed album. The band seemed to have a wonderful time on stage watching the chaos below. Despite the intensity of the wild mosh pit, the crowd, like the band, was all smiles and good vibes. Drain always looks like they are having the time of their life performing for their fans. They finished their set with California Cursed as everyone piled on to sing along and stage dive one last time.
It was an absolutely wild evening and everyone who came out to the show will remember it for a long time. Thanks to Extensive Enterprise for providing us with the best concerts in Montreal.
Review – Jason Maher
Photos – Ema Riot