Belfast quartet And So I Watch You From Afar stopped in Toronto halfway through their three-week opening stint for The Fall of Troy’s North American tour. And despite many at The Opera House being there for the concert’s headliners, ASIWYFA quickly won the room over with their fantastic fusion of post-rock and math rock.
The act started things off with a bout of feedback before launching into the thundering opening of “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” from 2012’s Gangs, causing a few excited show-goers to form a small mosh pit near the stage. And in an interesting twist, the track’s quick shift into groovier rhythms soon had said moshers dancing instead. It’s not often you see people switch from slamming into each other to two-stepping in a matter of seconds, but both actions were equally fitting for the dynamic number.
With “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” winding down, guitarist Rory Friers kicked his leg high in the air and the band began “Gang (Starting Never Stopping).” Filled with frenzied, ‘80s metal-inspired riffs, the heavy cut was well received and met with lots of nodding heads and smiles. The opener from this year’s Heirs, “Run Home,” followed. While the bulk of ASIWYFA’s performance was instrumental “Run Home” and another number from Heirs, “Wasps,” featured Friers, guitarist Niall Kennedy, and bassist Johnny Adger all harmonizing on vocal melodies together. The brief bits of vocals were fun and added even more texture to the angular, densely woven sounds being turned out.
Aside from pausing briefly to thank the audience for the clap alongs happening during songs and the applause after them, ASIWYFA went with a “go, go, go” attitude and managed to squeeze nine songs from their past three offerings into their performance. The fact that only two of those tracks came from May’s Heirs was a bit surprising, but considering how tight ASIWYFA were and how well all of the night’s selections were played, it was tough to find any problems with the set list.
The group closed things out with “Big Thinks Do Remarkable” from 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures. Also featuring vocal harmonizing from Friers, Kennedy, and Adger, the punchy song continued to increase in speed and intensity before falling into near silence. Friers used this opportunity to thank everyone again before ASIWYFA wrapped up their show with one last noisy explosion of sound.
Definitely leaving folks wanting more, hopefully we’ll get a longer, headlining appearance next time ASIWYFA make it back to the area.
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Review by Shawn Despres | @s_despres