I Am Gary Hampton.

Anathallo & Millencolin

Yes, I know, Anathallo and Millencolin aren’t two bands you would generally hear muttered in the same breath, but they are the two bands I saw live this past week and both shows were absolutely amazing for two totally different reasons.

Saturday February 28th 2009: Anathallo at the Drake Hotel, Toronto

Anathallo puts on one of the most brilliant live shows I’ve ever seen. This was my third time seeing them play, the first at a small venue like the Drake Hotel. This seven-piece art/prog/indie rock machine is a sight to see, whether you’re fimiliar with their music or not. Before I go any further I must say ‘Thank You’ to them for bringing percussion ensembles into current music.

The show was great, even without ‘Holiday At The Sea’ in the setlist. (note to the band: next time you’re in Toronto, play ‘Holiday At The Sea’, please and thank you.) They managed to squeeze in a great selection of songs into the short time they had, including some personal favorites ‘The River’, ‘Hanasakajijii Four: A Great Wind, More Ash’ and ‘Kasa No Hone’. They proved once again that the perfection showcased on their albums is replicable for a live show. If you ever get the chance to see them play, don’t pass it up. You’ll regret it later.

The show was enjoyable for more than just the music, the stage banter included an ongoing ‘strike’ system, started off when Matt had his guitar tuned incorrectly for the first song in the set, ‘Italo’, and had to stop a minute or so into the song. Later on he made a joke insulting Canadians (I forgot what exactly it was, if you remember please comment below) and further into the show forgot to transpose the piano for one of their other songs. The best part about it though was that the crowd was into it, nobody was upset at the mistakes, everyone was just there for a good time and that’s what everyone recieved.

To sum up the show: brilliant display of artistic musicianship, positive crowd appreciating said display, and massive percussion breakdowns which make me happier than a kid on Christmas morning.

Can’t wait for next time.

Saturday March 7th 2009: Millencolin at the Opera House, Toronto

Oh, Swedish skate punk. I don’t even know what to say about this show. I can’t recall the last time I listened to Millencolin, but I do remember the era when I was really into them. It was late elementary school/early high school, I would go to as many shows as I could possibly go to and loved acting like a fool, singing along, pumping fists, moshing, etc. There’s something about a small punk rock show that brings people together in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else. Everyone’s there for a good time, everyone has some steam to blow off, and everyone shares this mutual respect and instant brotherly bond. This show re-proved all of that to me.

The best way to explain the show is through a timeline of my day.

11:45am: I discover that the show is happening thanks to a friend’s Facebook status (Hi Shannon!). I spend the next few hours searching for someone to come with.
5:20pm: While checking Facebook statuses I notice a casual friend’s status says ‘In Toronto! Looking for something to do tonight!’ to which I respond with ‘Millencolin @ Opera House’
6:30pm: I head to the venue, planning to meet up with said casual friend who I’ve only ever hung out with backstage at shows.
7:00pm: I find him and join him in line, meeting his friend and some other people they met in line.
7:30pm: Doors open, we go in planning to buy tickets at the door.
7:35pm: Tickets are sold out. The girl we met in line got the last one.

This is where the concept of instant friendship comes into play.  With no tickets at the door, the girl we met in line (her name was Heather) tells the people selling tickets that we’re all together, and if we don’t get in she’ll be alone all night. This one line convinces them to let us in, being the very last people to get tickets. So, thanks Heather, without you this story would go untold.

7:45pm – 10:00pm: Ate a cheeseburger, Hung out and conversed with a bunch of people from Brantford who we’ve never met, but instantly feel like friends in some weird way that can only be explained by the atmosphere of the show. We form a group near the front of the stage, ready for Millencolin.

10:00pm and onward: The show itself was incredible. They kicked it off with back to back tracks from Pennybridge Pioneers (‘Penguins & Polarbears’ and ‘Fox’), arguably their greatest and most loved album. I haven’t listened to these songs in years but instantly felt the words flowing back into my head and out passed my tongue.

They ran through a two hour long set and the crowd never died down. I managed to get to the front, right up against the baricade, and spent the night rocking out harder than I have in years and losing my voice singing along to those nostalgic songs. You could really tell these guys love what they do and share a friendship that can’t be replicated. Everyone around me became a new best friend to sing and dance along with.

They finished the night with a four song encore including ‘The Ballad’ (SO INCREDIBLE LIVE), ‘Mr. Clean’, ‘Black Eye’ and finally the song we were all waiting for; ‘No Cigar’. The energy in the room singing along to ‘I don’t care where I belong no more / what we share or not I will ignore / and I wont waste my time fitting in ’cause I dont think contrast is a sin‘ was amazing and completely capsulated the whole point of the show; life is not a popularity contest, we’re all in this together, so let’s forget about our differences and have as much fun together while we can.

That point was further enforced as I spent the rest of my night with three new friends who I just met. We ended up at Sneaky Dee’s where we shared our plates of nachos, spring rolls and all day breakfast over very enjoyable conversation.

The whole night just brought me back to high school life (which I thoroughly enjoyed), a life where everyone is your friend, top priority of everything is to have a good time, and popularity was a far away ideal. (yes, I know, I have a much different memory of high school than most people)

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Thank you Universe for bringing everything together and making it happen.


Note: The images above are not from the shows I’m discussing. If you have any pics from the Toronto shows, please let me know.

Anathallo image credit Taylor from Pictures For Kids Who Can’t Read Good
Millencolin image credit Tobias Stich


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

good story gary.

you should have got contact info and i could have befriended those brantfordians.
come visit.

also read the whole thing so where is my prizeÉ

Comment by mark

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