TASTE OF CHAOS Tour 2006 @ Stade Uniprix

By Josh Mocle - The Kids Are So-So - 04/15/2006

I suppose the first thing I could possibly say about the Taste Of Chaos Tour’s Montreal stop is that the innovative New Jersey post-hardcore group known as Thursday -- one of my all time-favorite bands -- wasn’t there. After their singer Geoff Rickley fell ill, they officially left the tour two days before the Montreal date. Personally, that fact lowered my overall opinion of the show before it even began. However, determined to not let the absence of Thursday ruin my Taste Of Chaos experience, I made my way into the sea of black and pink that had formed outside of Stade Uniprix last Saturday morning. Yes kids, this was the winter time Montreal emo convention and if not for my built-up resistance, I would have buckled under the onslaught of neck-tied bandanas, jeans that were three sizes to small and of course, mascara. Once inside I was greeted with a similar, but incredibly tooled-down version of the traditional Vans Warped Tour setup -- considering that both tours are put on by the same people, that fact really didn’t surprise me in the slightest. Various merchandise and activism booths were littered across the stadium floor as well as video game kiosks provided by the tour co-sponsor Nintendo. Interestingly, the stage, located in the far left-hand corner of the stadium, was in fact split into the smaller Myspace-sponsored second stage and the larger main stage (with a much more intricate lighting set-up.)

The first band up on the second stage was local screamo act Red October. Having been voted for to play this one date by the denizens of the online cesspool that is Myspace, these Montreal boys really weren’t offering anything special, just your average watered-down Thrice rip-off. Once they were finished, Dredg began their set immediately on the main stage about six feet away, imitating the Warped Tour tradition of having constant music being performed at all times. The most experimental band on the tour --which is code for “not really punk OR metal", the two prominent genres on the tour -- Dredg, while not providing the most entertaining or even very interesting brand of experimental prog rock, had a rather unique stage set-up which included members of the tour sitting down and playing cards at the card table and an easy chair set up in the middle of the stage throughout their whole set. Additionally, their drummer (known only as Dino) continued to play even while the stage crew took his kit apart.

The following hour yielded a two-fold screamo explosion, courtesy of Arizona’s Greeley Estates and Ontario’s Silverstein. Following Dredg’s standard 30-minute set, Greeley Estates began theirs on the second stage. Straightforward sing/scream progressions and generic chunky guitar work were what filled their 30 minutes of angry “my girlfriend broke up with me and now I’m ANGRY” rock. I have a feeling their set may have benefited from the extra space and more refined light show provided by the main stage, but as it was their performance felt really confined and downright comical at some points. I say they could benefit from the same main stage treatment as Silverstein, whose sound is almost identical -- although don’t get me wrong, Silverstein are the far superior group -- and they had a much more engaging, albeit painfully short set. Before I continue, I should say that Silverstein have been a favorite of mine for almost three years and this was the fourth time I had seen them since June 2005. That having been said, they bored me. This may be the “fourth time thing” talking, but I really just wasn’t moved as I was the first and even second and third times I’ve seen these guys. I suppose such is the nature of screamo: it loses its punch over time, which saddens me as I really do enjoy the band and their music, but their live show does nothing for me anymore, even with all the pretty lights. However, to their credit, they did get me moving for their old material that they began and ended their set with. Not to slight the new material, as I like that just as much, but for whatever reason, they seemed far more into their classics like “Smashed Into Pieces” and “Bleeds No More” than they did for their newer singles “Smile In Your Sleep” and “Discovering The Waterfront”. It was almost like they had to play the singles since they were on the big as-close-to-mainstream-as-you-can-get-without-being-mainstream tour, not because they really wanted to. Which seems more and more likely as I continue to write this very review, considering the last time I saw them they didn’t play those singles at all. Alas, as I wasn’t able to get an interview with the guys this time around, we may have to wait awhile until we know the truth.

Following Silverstein’s set, I made my way back to the concourse to fill up on merch. During my shopping I caught bits and pieces of sets by Adair (or as I like to call them, the less famous but equally annoying Story of the Year), As I Lay Dying (the tour’s token metal band -- last year it was Killswitch Engage -- not bad by any means, just not my cup of tea) and The Smashup (there’s no way I can sugarcoat this; these guys just suck hard, and I have a REALLY high tolerance for screamo). I made my way back to the stage once Atreyu began their set. Falling firmly onto the more metal side of screamo -- as opposed to the emo side -- they began their set surprisingly with their four most well-known songs (for those of you not keen on your Atreyu trivia, that would be “Bleeding Mascara”, “The Crimson”, “Ex’s and Oh’s” and “Right Side of the Bed”). That fact kind of corroborates my “sorta mainstream tour gotta play the singles” theory, but nonetheless Atreyu delivered with all the necessary force I had expected them. The one thing I don’t understand though was why drummer Brandon Saller’s kit included THREE kick drums. I mean, how the hell does he even play all of them? Despite this anomaly though, Atreyu put on a thoroughly good set; I have absolutely no problems here.

Following Atreyu’s set, Salt Lake City’s Broke took the stage. I will be honest though, their set was incredibly forgettable… mainly since I have indeed forgotten all of it. To my credit, I knew at the time that the legendary Thrice were on only a short half-hour later and that is enough to distract anyone. Just like Silverstein, this was also my fourth time seeing Thrice this year. However, unlike Silverstein, I was still legitimately excited to see them. Once Broke ended their set and the Morse code introduction to Thrice’s phenomenal new record Vheissu began -- if you haven’t heard it yet you are seriously missing out -- I had a feeling that the boys of Thrice wouldn’t disappoint with this fourth performance, and I can safely say I was proven right. With a mixed set filled with tracks from their last three albums (2002’s The Illusion of Safety, 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance and the previously mentioned 2005’s Vheissu), they touched on everything from their straight-up screamo days right through to their current piano-driven post-hardcore incarnation. I began to wonder halfway through, however, if they were going to surprise me at all, as up until that point they hadn’t played anything I hadn’t heard from them the last three times. Sure enough, they ended up playing the electric version of “Stare at the Sun”, which they had stopped playing as of late in favor of the equally good acoustic version. Towards the end of their set I began to notice that Thrice may have been the only band I had seen that night to legitimately care about the fans they were playing for. Not to say that the other acts were unfeeling unemotional jerks -- trust me, there was enough emotion to cover the entire island -- but the way in which Dustin, Eddie, Teppei and Riley spoke to and reacted to the crowd's love was indicative of ones who have played to many crowds and were truly appreciative of the specific support they received that night. Which makes it so damn sad that they’ve yet to see 200,000 records while novice (and barely pubescent) groups like Panic! At the Disco have almost reached the 500k Gold level, especially since they haven’t been around long enough to appreciate a truly supportive audience -- considering all their audiences since they began their touring career have been filled with screaming 14-year-old girls who love them because MuchMusic tells them to.

Arising from the pit after Thrice ended their set with fan favorite track “Deadbolt”, covered in sweat and with my ears ringing -- mostly because I had been kicked in the head by a crowd surfer -- I decided I really had no desire to witness the sheer (albeit hypnotic) comedy that is the Street Drum Corps or the incredibly beyond their prime, nu-metal refugees The Deftones. I thus made my way out of the stadium and into the cold Montreal evening. In retrospect, it's kind of amusing that a guy with a punk show called The Kids Are So-So was the one to review this latest smattering of emo/core goodness, as this show was consistently so-so from start to finish, nothing particularly amazing (except Thrice), but nothing all that terrible either (except The Smashup); all in all a good package for the $40 they were charging for it. Now that the “Winter Warped Tour” has come and gone, we can all start gearing up for the next emo fest. That’s right kids, only two months till Warped Tour! Better get your mascara ready…

[Tune in to The Kids Are So-So Saturdays 10:00pm-Midnight.]