Review and Photos by Mike Bax
An evening where wrong was so right, nothing was really something, and Torche blew the roof of the venue. For only twenty bucks. Saturday night was already promising to be something special with Relapse Records’ bands Torche and Nothing performing together. Even with their own signature sounds, there can be no denying the heaviness of either band.
Restarter, the recently released new album by Torche ranks with their finest material ever. Guilty of Everything by Nothing is nine shimmering tracks of shoegazer bliss that delved into moments of heaviness well-suited to this evening’s overall vibe. Miami Florida’s four-piece Wrong (the tour show openers) served to make the evening a trifecta of musical bliss. Performing a quick set of six or seven songs with a sound reminiscent of early Helmet, Wrong had no problem winning over an audience of early attendees. Torche’s drummer (Jonathan Nuñez) even performed the full set with Wrong on this evening, tightly accentuating the manic guitar work of Eric Hernandez, Andres Ascanio and Ryan Haft. I didn’t know a single song the band played, but I dug what I saw immensely and feel quite comfortable saying I left the venue a Wrong fan.
Philadelphia four-piece Nothing strolled onstage and indicated towards a venue tech to dim the lighting before blasting the Lee’s Palace crowd with 45 minutes of their own signature form of heavy. The band performed five songs from Guilty of Everything (their full length debut), both of their songs from their split EP with Whirr, and the title track from their debut EP Downward Years to Come this evening. The feedback level was high, the energy exuding from the band was sublime and (in my opinion) the Nothing fan base in the room was large. It was obvious their representation and support was strong, something Nothing’s Dominic Palermo acknowledged shortly into their set as he thanked everyone for arriving early enough to witness their performance. While Nothing may not be Torche-heavy, they certainly raised the Lee’s Palace roof.
Even though the sound is twenty years old now, Nothing has found a way to make the shoegaze sound fresh and revitalizing. As their performance reached crescendo with ‘B&E,’ Palermo turned to face the speakers at the rear of the stage, twitching so furtively while strumming his guitar that he shook his toque off his head, revealing his shortly shorn bleached hair. My Bloody Valentine fans in the room certainly saw an homage to ‘You Made Me Realize’ as ‘B&E’ came to its conclusion and the band built a similar pummelling wall of feedback owing MBV a debt of gratitude.
Steve Brooks, Rick Smith, Jonathan Nuñez and Andrew Elstner strolled out on stage at Lee’s Palace, quickly tweaked their instruments at just after 11:30pm and launched into ‘Piraña’, setting the mood for their 90-minute set. Over 20 songs that span the same amount of calendar years, Torche performed a manically heavy set of riff-heavy rock to a swooning room of fans. It’s been a while since Torche played Toronto, something Brooks acknowledged before saying how good it was to be back in town. Torche has a quick and concise sound that totally shines in the studio. Their razor sharp riffs REALLY come off well on stage and in a small room like Lee’s Palace the effect of their thundering material is truly staggering.
What really kicked ass this evening was hearing so much of the new material on Restarter integrated into their live set. ‘Restarter,’ ‘Barrier Hammer,’ ‘Minions,’ ‘Loose Men,’ ‘No Servants,’ ‘Believe It,’ ‘Undone,’ ‘Blasted,’ and ‘Annihilation Affair’ were all played. Aside from ‘Bishop In Arms,’ the band delivered 9 out of 10 songs included on Restarter, and the material sounded utterly phenomenal performed live.
For me, this show was a game changer. Three tight bands, a good audience and some reasonably priced merchandise. What’s NOT to love?!? I walked out of the venue with my ears ringing, my wallet empty and a big smile on my face. If this bill is coming your way, make sure you hit it. You won’t be disappointed.
Across the Shields
Charge of the Brown Recluse
July the Fourth
Downward Years to Come