Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre received a triple shot of punk rock action this past Friday night as ferocious veterans Against Me! took to the stage with local crew The Dirty Nil and L.A.’s Bleached opening.
The Dirty Nil have had a tremendously busy 2017, previously having opened for Billy Talent at the Air Canada Centre, the Flatliners at Lee’s Palace, and played this year’s WayHome Festival up in Burl’s Creek. The packed year has not taken any toll on the group’s energy levels as they delivered another raucous set of 90s college emo inspired rock to the packed club. Dressed in his iconic navy blue shirt emblazoned with stars, frontman Luke Bentham effortlessly tore through the set, blowing bubblegum in between his lyrics. 2018 looks to be even busier with the band planning a new album sometime during the year.
The Dirty Nil
All the way from the west coast came Bleached whose punk was a little more indebted to the earlier days of the genre, though some hints of the 90s came through as well when they covered Nirvana‘s “Territorial Pissings”. Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin aren’t afraid to incorporate a little pop into their high energy tunes and the results are fantastic. Songs like “Sour Candy” and “Keep On Keepin’ On” blend post-punk melodies with head-on intensity effectively.
Against Me! are now into their twentieth year as a band and show absolutely no signs of letting up – and neither do their fans. The sold-out show was as wild as you can imagine, all the way through the massive 26-song set. Laura Jane Grace remains a dynamo on stage, even as she quipped that the band had to “relearn” much of their older material for this tour.
The set was stuffed with pickings from all over the band’s catalogue, from 2002’s Reinventing Axl Rose to last year’s Shapeshift With Me. Fiery cuts like “Miami” and “Up the Cuts” inspired many a crowd surfer, and mosh pits were aplenty over the course of the night. The middle of the set contained a surprise in the form of a cover of Tom Petty‘s “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, a tribute to the recently passed rock star.
The hits were all present as well- “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” has held up over the past seven years as a reliable punk anthem, as has 2007’s monster jam “Thrash Unreal”. The band closed with a hefty five-song encore, blazing through right until the end of the night. It was a solid start to the long weekend and the crowd at the Phoenix was very much thankful for the music of Against Me!