APRIL 28th 2016 

Review by lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

Photo Gallery: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/anti-flag-canadian-tour/

Fans were out in full regalia for the Anti Flag and guests show on April 28th, 2016, at the Venue. They invited along Victoria act No Liars and Western tour openers Lee Corey Oswald, out of Portland.

No Liars are a quintet comprised of Morley Graff (vocals), Noah Edwards (vocals/guitar), Eric Paone (guitar), Jonathan Graves (bass) and Mike Battle (drums).  They are slowly gaining notoriety for their punk-fusion sound, using elements of metalcore, emo, and straight up melodic rock to create what I equated to a cousin to Billy Talent. Graff arguably is a great start-out vocalist when talking about his efforts with soft and unclean vocals; the ‘in between’ where he and the rest of the band routinely live falls very short of the mark.  Edwards attempts to harmonize and it just doesn’t work. A guttural or baritone harmony would do much better to compliment Graff rather than a ball-chasing one.  As a group they seem to have a following with songs like “Catalyst” and “Two Wrongs Don’t Make It Right” but the only one I see making it out of the bar circuit is Graves. Keep working to find your sound boys: maybe put some more effort into it…

A very middle ground band between the opener and headliner, Lee Corey Oswald, brought in the people (despite their borderline politically significant name).  Lee Ellis (guitar/vocals), Dan Silver (guitar/vocals), Sam Pape (bass/vocals) and Corey Ciresi (drums) hail from Oregon where they’ve developed a bit of a unique sound as well. Something part punk, part folk, part East Coast sing-a-long, pairing acoustic tunes with heavier, truer, punk-style ones; think Weezer one-night-standing it with Bad Religion while prisoners on a pirate ship. They produce well-executed harmonies and melodies with a Sean Danielsen (of Smile Empty Soul) range.  Although the production on their recorded songs is better than what you hear live, LCO makes up for it in energy. The band clearly plays well together and will likely be able to bridge fans of different genres with little effort.

Finally we get the forever-erect middle finger band Anti Flag on stage. The dudes look like they’ve hardly aged despite having been on the scene (officially) for over 24 years. And the crowd they drew was very strange; the guys you’d expect to find were there of course (aging punks) but then there were also guys in suits and lots of early 20s folks there as well.  I had to wonder if I missed something while I slept in “Metal Metal Land” (haha see the Gwar reference?!?  But did you?)…had Anti Flag become relevant again?  Maybe with all the Trump fear going on down south they seem more relevant than they have been in many years, or maybe it’s just that they put out a new album in the last year.  Who knows.

Regardless, without any pomp they took off with “The Press Corpse” and followed up with a good scraping of their catalogue including “Fuck Police Brutality”, “Fuck The Flag”, “We Are The Lost”, “This Is The End (For You My Friend)”, “Die For The Government” and “1 Trillion Dollar$”. They also broke out one of their newest tracks “Brandenburg Gate” and closed with “Drink Drank Punk”.  

Current lineup of Justin Sane (lead vocals and guitar), Chris Barker (backing vocals/lead vocals, and bass), Chris Head (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Pat Thetic (drums) were drunk on energy and exploded punky goodness all over the eager, thirsting crowd.  It’s very clear that Anti Flag shines when they take to the stage, and are happy to not only entertain but spread their anti-political seed simultaneously. And this night was no exception: though I would fully expect a moment of spewing over one topic or another, I cannot say that I expected a critical commentary on Canadian politics. Barker let loose a social mouth fart about Justin Trudeau and his plan for fossil fuels: and while I am all for mouth farts of all sorts in a variety of places, my one exception is at my shows. Not only are you commenting on politics not your own but you’re doing it when you could be playing music. My scales will always tip for more music than for political bullshit that will not be changed with your inspired monologue.

Despite my momentary vexation, the overall show was awesome to watch and the sound was great. If you’re good with punky beats, fuck-you sing-a-longs and good ole fashioned anti-government sentiments, then you’re best to catch Anti Flag when they’re next in town.  Plus they have some awesome Trump inspired swag that will have you shitting bricks: oh wait, that was the alcohol and nostalgia. Still good shit though.