Published Oct 19, 2016Catharsis is post-hardcore's stock and trade, and Touché Amoré delivered one of the genre's most heart-wrenching releases this year with Stage Four. Taking the record — which chronicles singer Jeremy Bolm's mother's fatal struggle with cancer — on the road offers a different kind of emotional release, though, one that fans were more than happy to take part in at the band's Toronto stop.
After a work-around set from Culture Abuse (two of their guitarists didn't make it across the border), Minnesota's Tiny Moving Parts — whose drummer bore a striking resemblance to Hüsker Dü's Greg Norton — delivered a frenetic set of tunes sitting comfortably between American Football's twinkle and Cap'n Jazz's energetic fits from under a neon sign that proclaimed them "The Parts!" A broken kick-drum pedal threatened to derail the three-piece, but a speedy recovery got things back on track.
Though the record is only a few weeks old, Touché Amoré wasted no time diving into Stage Four. Album opener "Flowers for You" doubled as set opener, before the band quickly transitioned to Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me's "~" bucking any doubts that the new, deeply personal material could stand next to the band's larger catalogue. The crowd in the pit were quick to scream along, which Bolm readily encouraged, frequently directing his mic into the faces of crowd-surfers.
The band's sheer force meant that they needed quick breaks every three to four songs, both to rest and retune, but the Los Angeles quintet cleverly pre-recorded interstitial instrumental passages to ensure the energy and momentum of their performance weren't lost. Though explosive on stage, Bolm is plainspoken in real-life, the juxtaposition always rattling, but it gives his fury a sense of purpose, rather than coming off as just an angry front.
Stage Four numbers were heavily represented and already well known by most in the crowd, but they pulled from across their catalogue, and it was "Just Exist" that elicited perhaps the biggest reaction of the night. Bolm finished their main set by leading an a cappella scream-along to "Honest Sleep," then re-emerged after a brief pause with the band for a two-song encore. Visibly moved by the chanting crowd's desire for "one more song," Bolm described encores as both "strange" and "scary" before finishing the night with "Gravity Metaphorically."