There’s something that exists somewhere just beyond irony, something more timeless and profound, that strips away the comedic and replaces it with genuine emotional punch instead. That something happens when you have a couple hundred sweat-slicked, frenetic humans, arm in arm, screaming at another a few feet away, “When I get home, I’m not talking to anyone. When I get home, I’m unplugging my telephone. When I get home, I’ll get high alone.”
That was the scene at Hamilton’s Club Absinthe on Thursday night, as Philadelphia punk-rockers The Menzingers blasted through wave after wave of bittersweet sentimentality, draped with swollen distortion and riveting wordplay. The four-piece huddled on the corner stage as a gruesome mess of beards, ponytails and thick-framed glasses enveloped them in an utterly warm and loving welcome.
Currently touring North America with your favourite high school band, Taking Back Sunday, the band wasn’t mistaken in thinking they could play a show half an hour down the road from their Toronto date, and still sell out the venue. With help from local heavyweights The Penske File and Wayfarer kicking off the evening, the band had no trouble sending the group of giddy, half-lit fans into a frenzy of rage and euphoria, with a mosh pit that spanned nearly half the room.
Besides musicianship that one would have to dissect microscopically to fault, the energy onstage rivaled the crowd; collectively, it’s a shock they didn’t shatter the glass wall behind the stage. GTA indie heroes Tokyo Police Club and not-so-newcomers PUP were scattered through the venue, looking on with what was either deep admiration or the sour realization that The Menzos had a better live show than them. Likely a bit of both, hidden with a half-smile that betrayed neither too much of either side.
Drawing first blood with the adrenaline-pumping “Good Things,” the Menzingers raced through a rollicking set, stopping only to catch their breath (and you’d have to squint to catch them doing that). It’s easy to see the respect The Menzingers have developed from their fans, and it isn’t of the reverent, ‘yessir’ sort; its of the vibrating-against-the-edge-of-the-stage, eyes wide, brows furrowed, bellowing in the bands’ face, “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it” sort. Yes, it would seem the chorus to their tune “The Obituaries” provides another ‘something’ moment; guitarist Tom May giving the finger to the room, the room firing expletives back, tensing the bounds between stage and floor.
Sad words shouted from smiling mouths; The Menzingers take your self-deprecation and wrap it into a sing-along to make you feel better about it, and that’s damn magical. Hamilton got lucky with the band’s stop, and those who were smart enough to catch it will probably struggle to tell you what it was like; they’ll probably mention ‘something’ that they felt, and don’t you dare laugh. You’ll feel it too, someday, and then you’ll realize what their beautiful song “Gates” is about: happiness is just a moment.
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Review by Luke Ottenhof | @LukeOttenhof