At the PNE Forum on Saturday, November 27
Hundreds of rosy-cheeked Alexisonfire fans lined the perimeter of the PNE Forum for the quadruple-billed show last night. In the shadow of the hangar, other underagers sipped shit mixes from coke bottles and blew the occasional bud cloud into the frigid air. It looked as though someone had rounded up the occupants of every high-school smoke pit in the Lower Mainland—the first sign that the show was going to be bad-ass.
The first two openers, La Dispute and Norma Jean, played short but tight sets to a half-sized sea of fans. The music was loud and energetic but the volume knob only turned louder as the night went on.
Vancouver's 3 Inches of Blood kicked it up a notch with their old-school style of metal. Smoke billowed off the stage like a forest mist and the flashing strobe lights bounced off the trees on their giant banner. The lightning reflected the thundering guitars and Cam Pipes's screaming falsetto perfectly, while Ash Pearson's ferocious drumming sounded like a helicopter flying and firing over Vietnam. By the time they played "Forest King", 3 Inches of Blood had commanded the attention of the crowd and prepared the way for Alexisonfire. Holy hell, they even played a brief Rush cover. How could it possibly get any better?
Alexisonfire brought up the rear and showed us how. Apparently, the volume could go to 11. The crowd of mostly young miscreants surged forward on the floor as lead singer George Pettit launched a beautifully vicious assault on every eardrum in the place, opening with "Young Cardinals". The guitars and vocals were on max and Alexisonfire occupied every inch of the Forum with its powerful post-hardcore.
At some points the vocals were drowned out by the instruments, particularly Dallas Green's. It's hard to criticize, though, when songs like "Mailbox Arson" and "Keep it on Wax" hit so much harder than the studio versions. Pettit showed his love for the crowd midway, when he said that he heard that B.C. was going to legalize polygamy and screamed: "That seals it! I'm going to marry every fuckin’ one of you!"
He then followed with a tongue-in-cheek dedication of "Accept Crime" to all of the polygamists.
Green kept a lower profile than anticipated, lending his soulful voice as more of a backup than a primary weapon. But luckily he still got to lend his haunting wail to the limelight on a few songs, with "Rough Hands" a notable crowd favourite.
At the end of the concert, Pettit ripped his white T-shirt off for the closing performance of "Happiness by the Kilowatt", which was delivered flawlessly and furiously.
The contrast between the old metal music of 3 Inches of Blood and the new screaming sounds of Alexisonfire played off each other perfectly. It didn't matter if you were an elderly 20- or 30-something in the stands or a post-everything kid who wasn't even alive for '80s metal like Maiden's Powerslave. Whether you have to get up early for a job or if you have to drag your ass to high school, the memories and hearing loss will remain the same for both on Monday. For those who just rocked us, we salute you.