Live review: Edgefest Toronto

Billy Talent. (CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER/QMI Agency)

Billy Talent. (CHARLES WILLIAM PELLETIER/QMI Agency)

Jason MacNeil, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:32 AM ET

DOWNSVIEW PARK - Three years ago hometown band Billy Talent headlined Edgefest which singer Ben Kowalewicz described as a “mud show” due to heavy rains.

Last year at Downsview Park the weather was great but the band's appearance at Heavy TO left them pelted with bottles, signs and other projectiles. Basically they were the festival's black sheep.

This year's Edgefest at Downsview Park seemed to agree the most with Billy Talent of the three.

With a new album Dead Silence on the horizon, the group's headlining set was high on intensity, a bit scant on new material but generally well received from the throng of fans who endured the afternoon baking.

Fuelled by the manic energy of Kowalewicz who routinely pogo-ed around the stage when not crouched with one foot on a stage monitor, Billy Talent kicked off their hour-plus set with Devil In A Midnight Mass and Living In The Shadows as fans steadily ran towards the front.

Stating they were happy to be back home, the lead singer and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk (who recently underwent heart surgery) steered the galloping Turn Your Back perfectly. Kowalewicz then dedicated the ensuing song “to any Maple Leafs fan” which was aptly titled This Suffering.

While River Below, the somewhat tamer Rusted From The Rain and Cut The Curtains were pretty good, Billy Talent hit a home run with the new single Viking Death March, a metal-leaning number that has plenty of bite and bark.

And fortunately, unlike most of the earlier acts who made no mention of what happened a month ago, Kowalewicz acknowledged the death of drum tech Scott Johnson from the Radiohead stage collapse at the same location.

Earlier in the evening, the reformed Death From Above 1979 made the most of their punchy garage rock romps. The duo of drummer

Sebastien Grainger and guitarist Jesse Keeler have one album to their credit but sounded as fresh and new as they did when 2004's You're A Woman, I'm A Machine came out.

Highlights from their set included the infectious Black History Month, Go Home, Get Down, the title track and Blood On Our Hands. Grainger also managed to get a few digs in at Mayor Rob Ford and previous Toronto mayors by dubbing them “f------ pigs.”

Not to be outdone despite having a relatively early start time were Saskatchewan retro-rock darlings The Sheepdogs. Along with a strong rendition of their new single The Way It Is, the band were loved by the crowd during I Don't Know and The One You Belong To among others.

Los Angeles group Silversun Pickups – whose singer Brian Aubert briefly chastised some in the crowd for hitting others – were relentless with numbers like the huge Lazy Eye, the set opening Skin Graph, Panic Switch and The Royal We. And fellow California band Young The Giant were huge during their bombastic signature My Body.

 


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