By Lukas Holt
September 20, 2019
The Rickshaw Theatre
Toronto hardcore punks Cancer Bats have been raising hell for 15 years and their stop in Vancouver was the epitome of chaos. The Rickshaw Theatre was rammed with fans on the floor and the balcony, eagerly awaiting the large sludgy riffs to pound the walls.
Before the members took to the stage, a familiar Torontonian face came out to do a guitar sound check. It was none other than Alexisonfire’s Wade McNeil, who was filling in on shredding duties for Scott Middleton as his wife was expecting a baby. This had several fans of both bands even more fired up than before.
As the lights dimmed, lead vocalist Liam Cormier stood tall in an oversized hoodie and baggy camouflage pants at the front of the stage, with his microphone raised high as if to wave the flag to start a race. He let out a gigantic roar into “Gatekeeper” from their latest bludgeoning 2018 album, The Spark That Moves, and madness ensued.
Within the first few songs it became apparent the crowd had an insatiable thirst for head banging and wreaking havoc in the pit. The energy grew to an unruly level whereby several audience members stormed the stage to dive off and security could no longer handle them. This lead to Cormier having to give the fans a PSA on being respectful to the security team as they were trying to keep people safe. One fan became so relentless that even McNeil had to cut his guitar and tell them to settle down. To calm the storm, the band played a doomy instrumental interlude, ode to their fellow Canadian sludge metal brothers Cursed.
Once the dust had somewhat settled, Cancer Bats unleashed their ferocious riffs once more. Bassist Jaye Schwarzer ran rampant doing high kicks and provided guttural backing vocals and Drummer Mike Peters broke a couple of sticks as he beat his drum kit to death.
The band closed the night similar to the way they opened, with a new track, “Winterpeg,” about one of their favourite cities and second home. What started off as a rampant and chaotic show, finished as an all inclusive and safe environment for people to let go and enjoy a rip of pure Canadian hardcore punk.Cancer Bats, Rickshaw Theatre