Stick To Your Guns + guests @ Paradox Theatre – 20th February 2015

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Oh what a night! I must say I was blown away from the beginning to the end of the evening, right when I got into the Paradox Theatre to see some of my favourite bands! Despite the cold (feeling like -27° degrees as I made my way in front of the venue!), hardcore fans were present and ready for a wild show.

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It was my first time at the Paradox Theatre, as I’m more used to venues such as Metropolis, Club Soda, la Tulipe or la Sala Rosa, so I had absolutely no idea how it looked like. I followed some hardcore kids up Monk Street and ended up in front of a beautiful church and was wondering: “Is this the venue?” And yes, it was! The place is impressive and a high quality sound system, being probably one of the best venues I’ve been to so far in Montreal.

It took me some time to get inside, since most people didn’t have tickets and were buying on the spot. As people got in, most of them were disappointed seeing the person letting them out throwing their tickets in the trash instead of just ripping them, since I guess that, like me, they love to keep a memory from a show, but oh well!

Even if the crowd was mainly composed of hardcore kids, we could see people from all ages and genders, young girls, older guys, some people even had animal costumes that looked pretty awesome I must say!

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We all patiently waited for the first band of the night: In Hearts Wake. First Australian metalcore of the night and they knew exactly how to warm up the crowd, despite a short set of 25 minutes. They started right off with the eponym song from their album “EarthWalker”. The crowd was already on fire, with a circle pit already starting. What could put hardcore kids more in the mood than a circle pit? A wall of death, obviously! Well we had the pleasure to witness one during their second song “The Unknown (Strength)”, taken from their second studio album entitled Divination.

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Vocalist Jake Taylor knew exactly how to get the public pumped and the band continued their performance with more songs from their past two albums to end with the song, “Divine”. The singer provided us with intense and powerful screams and a great presence on stage, while bassist Kyle Erish let us enjoy mesmerizing clean vocals. The crowd was asking for more and was ready for the next band to come, ’68!

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Impatience started to be felt after 25 minutes, until two-piece American band ’68 got on stage. Before their performance, I didn’t know the band much… All I knew from them was “R (track 1)” so I wasn’t sure what to expect from them, as I am pretty sure the rest of the public was feeling the same way. They definitely were not expecting what happened that evening! Confusion started pretty much a minute after guitarist/vocalist stoned-looking Josh Scogin got on stage with his fellow drummer Michael McClellan. All I can say is that the band lives in their own world, with really few interactions with the crowd. However, they have this great energy and know how to put on a show within that world, with Josh Scogin throwing his guitar in the air multiple times in a row, or even having the drummer play on his guitar with his sticks.

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The two band members were facing each other most of the time, the singer having his microphone set up really low, having to have his face down and bending his knees to be able to sing, while the drummer was ready to stand while playing. Throughout the chaos, it was hard to figure out if the crowd appreciated their performance or not as they were mainly silent, but it definitely impacted them in some way like it did to me.

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Despite their lack of real involvement with the crowd, they were joking with them, pretending to play their last song after only two songs, or even saying that they were AC/DC and that they might have merchandise somewhere in that “church?”. At some point, they also invited Being As An Ocean’s drummer as a guest to play on one of their songs, which was definitely appreciated by everybody.

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Most people were waiting for Being As An Ocean and were getting extremely impatient as they were hearing the sound check happening behind the curtains. That next band was one band that I truly love since I discovered them about two years ago. I already had the opportunity to see them live and already knew that their show would be dynamic, with great vocals and sound and with a pumped crowd, ready to go on stage and crowd-surf from there. I was not let down by my expectations and that was exactly what happened! The band started off with “Mediocre Shakespeare”, first song taken from their second record, How We Both Wondrously Perish. This song is great to start with as it has a driving chord progression with harsh vocals from vocalist Joel Quarticcio, with Michael McGough adding clear vocals to it. They continued with a hit song from their first album, with a song title as long as a Fall Out Boy’s song from 2003. Songs from the album “Dear G-D” are to me the most powerful of the band, hitting you right in the face, with emotion and feelings coming right from the heart. Being As An Ocean doesn’t only make it sound good on record but know exactly how to perform it live, and make it a unforgettable melodic-hardcore experience for everybody.

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For their last song, “This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death of Me”, vocalist Joel Quarticcio decided to crowd-surf himself, being with his fans and singing in the middle of them. His performance was extraordinary, and we can only respect such proximity with fans.

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The fourth band of the night was another Australian hardcore band like we love them – The Amity Affliction! I’ve been listening to them since their first album but never had the occasion to see them live before, so I was extremely looking forward to their performance, and they didn’t deceive me at all! I know I was not the only one being a huge fan of them in the crowd as everybody around me was singing along, head banging and moshing at the sound of songs such as “Pittsburgh”, “Green Avenue” or “Lost & Fading”.

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Staying at the front row of the crowd was quite an experience as I was pushed against the stage over and over, and having fans jumping from the stage onto me, but what a great ambiance! Singing along in unison with the rest of the crowd to the band’s hits, with the last two songs being “Open Letter” and “Don’t Lean On Me”. Vocalist Joel Birch really was the soul of that performance, along with bassist Ahren Stringer providing clear vocals as well. After such a set, I can only look forward seeing them again at Warped Tour!

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At 10:15pm, it was finally time for the main headliners of this show: the American hardcore punk band Stick To Your Guns. It was my second time seeing them live, after seeing them last year headlining with the Story So Far. I was already blown away by their performance at the time; I was not expecting such energy nor so much power in their sound. Once again, they knocked my socks off.

They started with “Nobody”, a melodic powerful song to motivate the crowd. The following song was “Empty Heads”, a real barn-burner song, a call for positivity being heard through the driving drums and the loud guitars. Their setlist was mainly composed of hit songs from their last three albums, being The Hope Division, Diamond which made them known worldwide, and their latest opus, Disobedient, that continues right where Diamond left off. Their performance left me speechless (mostly because I was shouting the lyrics at the top of my lungs), but there’s one sure thing: I can’t wait for the next time I will have the opportunity to see them.

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Before the Encore, vocalist Jesse Barnett made us enjoy an acoustic version of the song “We Still Believe”, after quoting Woody Guthrie (an American folk musician: “Sing high when they sing low, Sing fast when they sing slow”), describing how the words of a song are important, rather than the tunes. I highly appreciated that acoustic song, as it was a great break to take from all this moshing!

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The band ended their set with the Encore, composed of the hit songs “Diamond” and “Against Them All”, during which the fans still have all that energy inside them, singing along and moshing until the last second of the show, enjoying the band’s presence as much as they could.

Throughout the entire performance, we could feel the love and passion the band has for music and for their fans. The crowd was on fire, moshing, crowd-surfing and head banging more than ever, it was insane!

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11:15pm marked the end of an outstanding night, where every single band knew how to conquer our hearts and making us crave for more live music. It was then time to wait about 30 minutes to get my jacket from the vestiaires, taking the opportunity to talk to Stick To Your Guns’ vocalist Jesse Barnett while doing so, and looking for some nice merchandise to buy.

At 11:45pm, it was time to face the cold again to hope that I wouldn’t freeze to my death because of our lovely Canadian weather. I couldn’t feel my legs and my whole body was bruised but it was definitely worth it. What a night!

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In Hearts Wake setlist:
Earthwalker
The Unknown (Strength)
Departure (Death)
Healer
Survival (The Chariot)
Divine

Being as an Ocean setlist:
Mediocre Shakespeare
The Hardest Part is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget
Death’s Great Black Wing Scrapes the Air
Dear G-D
L’exquisite Douleur
This Loneliness Won’t Be The Death of Me

The Amity Affliction setlist:
Pittsburgh
Green Avenue
Lost & Fading
Chasing Ghost
Death’s Hand
The Weight Down
Never Alone
Open Letter
Don’t Lean On Me

Stick To Your Guns Setlist:
Nobody
Empty Heads
Amber
I Choose No One
The Crown
Bringing You Down
What Goes Around
Disobedient
What Choice Did You Give Us?
The Bond
Such Pain
D(I am)ond
Built Upon the Sand
We Still Believe (acoustic)
Encore:
Diamond
Against Them All

Review – Maxime Le Huidoux
Photos – Steve Gerrard

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