We The Kings // The Opera House // 13. 08. 13
Hailing from the warm and wonderful state of Florida, the boys of We The Kings played their one and only Canadian show at Toronto’s The Opera House on August 13th.
Openers included Keep it Cute, The Ready Set, T-Mills, and Breathe Carolina, making for a long night of good music that included everything from Daft Punk remixes to cuss-heavy rap songs.
To chants of ‘WE THE KINGS,’ Travis Clark (lead vocals, guitar), Charles Trippy (bass), Hunter Thomsen (lead guitar), Coley O’Toole (keys / aux), and Danny Duncan (drums) took the stage. They opened with “Find You There” (one of their new singles, released this spring) and with Travis screaming, ‘Everybody jump right now!’
He somehow managed to sustain that manic energy throughout the show. ‘I want to finish this song together like one big ass Canadian family,’ he said before beginning “What You Do To Me,” the closing track of Smile Kid. He had us up on our tippy toes, waving our hands. He was going to start with, ‘one two’ and we were to finish it with ‘three four,’ and proceed to go ‘absolutely fucking crazy.’
Travis even had a solution for the more reserved in the crowd: ‘If you don’t know how to go crazy, here’s what I want you to do: I want you to take the person in front of you and violently hump them.’ He acknowledged that it would be hard for the front row, because they’d be ‘gang banging a metal barricade.’
On four, people went as crazy as an all ages pop-rock show can get; which is to say, there was no moshing or crowd surfing, just kids über enthusiastically jumping with their phones and cameras held high. The tech-sea along with the emergence of CTFXC (the name of bass player Charles Trippy’s YouTube channel) posters meant it was time to head upstairs. As they played “She Takes Me High,” we wove our way through the tightly packed Opera House, past the security guard listening to his iPod, and drank our beers and Red Bulls from the 19+ vantage point.
From there, it was even easier to recognize the exuberance with which We The Kings were playing their set; Trippy’s Converse were in the air more often than they were touching the stage.
The mood of the night shifted to the slow and serious, though, when the band played a cover of Rihanna’s “Stay ft. Mikky Ekko.” The audience reacted well, though they reacted better to the cover of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside.” It was back to the gang banging fun with which the show began.
For “Secret Valentine” and “Party, Fun, Love & Radio,” Travis was especially intent on getting the audience involved. He continually encouraged us to sing along, to get our hands up. But “Just Keep Breathing” required no such encouragement. Travis went into a heartfelt micro-speech, saying that he wrote the song to ‘save someone’s life’ and reminding everyone that they are ‘never alone.’ All those kids knew what song was about to be played, and before the track even started, a flurry of paper hearts filled the general admission floor area.
‘You guys sound amazing,’ said Travis, mid-song. ‘Keep singing. Sing with me.’
Through Travis’ constant instructions for us to ‘sing’ and ‘jump’ and ‘go fucking crazy’ he was perhaps resisting that sea of tech-screens, pulling us out of the urge to document their show and instead pulling us into the music. He was encouraging us to be as present as the girl (Holly) who was brought on stage for “Friday is Forever.”
‘Would you like to come on a date with me?’ he asked Holly, after a couple of security guards had hoisted the girl over the rail and onto the stage. ‘But it’s right now, Travis continued, ‘in front of thousands of people.’
Of course she agreed to being serenaded by Travis—who gave her a fake flower, “ Don’t smell it, it smells like plastic’—as Coley transformed the pop song into a slowed down piano ballad.
Then, the band pulled the crowd in even tighter; Travis asked if we’d like to be in his music video for their 2013 single, “Any Other Way.” This time, we had to ‘get crazier than you’ve gotten the entire night.’ Travis shouted, ‘Is everybody ready?’ and I totally wouldn’t be surprised if We The Kings ever released some scream-type tracks.
The band closed with an older song, their 2008 single “Check Yes Juliet.” There were explosions of confetti that rained down on the general admission floor area. Travis said “We are, We The Kings,” just as the last few pieces of confetti fell, making for a grand stage exit.
The show was over, but the night wasn’t. The crowd exited and careened to the left of The Opera House, where the tour buses were parked. All of the band members eventually made their rounds for pictures and autographs. They signed guitars, t-shirts, and some dude’s arm cast. Though clearly exhausted (they were reaching the tail end of their tour), they were patient with fans, even the kid who said (as though mocking Napoleon Dynamite), “Travis. Can I get a picture? [Sigh.] I have to go home soon.”
Security, on the other hand, was annoyed with the noise, threatening that if their was anymore “TRIPPY” chanting, they wouldn’t be able to hold shows at The Opera House anymore (okay, sure).
Charles Trippy was the last to make an appearance, hushing the crowd and signaling for us to walk one block over. He signed us some guitar picks and took pictures before joining the rest of the band in the tour bus, headed back into America to play the last few shows of their 2013 Summer Fest Tour.
For concert photos from the show, click here.
Special thanks to Live Nation Ontario for accreditation to the show.