Last Friday I attended Senses Fail’s 15 year anniversary tour, which made it’s only Canadian stop at Toronto’s Mod Club. Although I’m relatively new to Senses Fail, I was still very excited to see what might be their most popular album performed in it’s entirety. Supporting Senses Fail were the one and only Counterparts from my home town of Hamilton, talented newcomers Movements from SoCal, and local Pop Punk sensation Like Pacific. An eclectic mixture of different bands, the show left me impressed with every turn it took.

First to take the stage was Like Pacific, who made a memorable first impression with their choice of the Goosebumps theme for their intro. Upon starting to perform, the band’s enthusiastic approach served as a warm welcome to the show. They quickly noted that this was the first stop on the tour without a barrier, and invited the crowd up to stage dive and sing along. Their set was mainly comprised of material from their new album, with the exception of the closer, which was much heavier than anything I’d heard from them before. It did a great job of fulfilling the “Stay Pissed” mantra written on the band’s shirts.

Movements were the next band on the bill and they got an ecstatic reaction from the crowd who lunged towards the stage to sing the first line. A mixture of post-hardcore and EMO, the crowd reaction was a bit different than Like Pacific, with fans opting for more push-pitting and less stage diving. I found myself nodding along to the riffs I had heard on the EP, which had gotten embedded in my psyche after only one or two listens. Their entire performance had a terrific ambience to it that entertained even when they were tuning guitars in between songs. I also won’t be getting the set-ending lyrics, “Give me something to believe in”, out of my head anytime soon.

Following Movements were Counterparts with what would possibly be the most hardcore performance of the night. Playing what is essentially their hometown, the expectation was that everyone would be out of control, and it did not disappoint. Although they had some concerns that “Toronto might be sick of hearing us perform”, the packed venue was full of devoted fans that turned the room into a giant pit. Piles of people pushed around at the front screaming every word, and bodies went flying in every which direction. A former vocalist returned to revive his part, and the entire band wore pony shirts, because apparently it was Pony Friday, and the fierceness of the performance was only matched by it’s fun loving humour.

The headliners were next, and Senses Fail’s performance was signified by the raising of a new banner, as the crowd sang along to Jimmy Eat World, The Used, and Taking Back Sunday in a perfect precursor to what was to come. As the show began, the band’s own brand of post-hardcore took over, and front man Buddy Nielsen’s energy was unmistakable. He spun the microphone in every which direction, and leaped towards the audience at all the right moments.

One might wonder how an over 10-year-old album sounds performed live today, and in the hands of Senses Fail, the answer is “better than it ever has.” With masterful use of guitar tones, Senses Fail made sure their breakdowns didn’t seem out of place after Counterparts. Crowd participation also played a large part, as everyone seemed to be singing along, from what I saw where I was standing in the middle of the venue.

In between songs Buddy took time to elaborate on “Still Searching”, explaining that it was the most difficult time in his life, and how you can’t be afraid to do things or one day you may wake up and find you’re unhappy. He went back to this before performing their encore, where he praised the power of music and summarised by saying “where you put your attention in life, that’s where you will go.” The show ended in classic fashion with Brendan from Counterparts coming out to guest on “Bite to Break Skin”, which he acknowledged as an influence saying that “I’ve been waiting since middle school to do this.”

It’s always good when you can tell the bands on tour together are getting along, and in this case everyone was clearly on good terms and had been influenced by the band that brought them along. Although I wish I had gotten to see Senses Fail’s most recent material, which has Buddy opening up about his sexuality, the night was ripe with nostalgia and had me remembering why I started to like this kind of music in the first place. Hopefully they all keep this spirit alive.

About the Author

Dylan Kulcher is an avid skateboarder, gamer, music fan, and aspiring journalist from the small airport town of Mount Hope, Hamilton. Always looking for a reason to visit the big city and network outside his comfort zone, Dylan vies to bring communities together with his writing. A member of many LGBTQ groups and participator in his local Pride rallies, he strives for transparency in his life and doesn’t feel like anyone should have to hide in the closet!.