Senses Fail / Sharptooth Gateway, Calgary AB, May 27

Senses Fail / Sharptooth Gateway, Calgary AB, May 27
Photo: Jenn Five
The post-hardcore / emo / screamo boom that put Senses Fail on the map in the mid-2000s might be over, but a small and mostly dedicated crowd still packed into the Gateway to see the quintet perform old and new cuts. The guys kicked things off with an energetic "Family Tradition," from 2008's Life is Not a Waiting Room, before launching into "New Jersey Makes, the World Takes" from 2018's If There Is Light, It Will Find You, then bringing it back old school again with 2002's "Bloody Romance."
As usual vocalist Buddy Nielsen was the star of the show, and since he's the only member who's been there since the start, it's probably not much of a surprise. The other guys mostly just stood there, but Nielsen was swinging his mic and dancing. Too bad there was a barricade set up, because it ruined the mood and prevented the crowd from really getting into the tunes as much as Nielsen was, especially during straight-up screamo cuts like "Canine."
The sound was also poorly mixed, with Nielsen's vocals sounding muffled under the thundering drums, bass and guitar. If you weren't already familiar with the band's lyrics, you would have a hard time making them out for yourself.
But despite those setbacks, the show wasn't ruined. They played all the old hits like "Buried a Lie" and "Calling All Cars." One thing that puts Senses Fail ahead of the game is the fact that they still manage to write relevant songs, unlike some of their peers, so hearing new material was actually a real treat. One girl did heckle them to "play the old shit" and Nielsen called her out for it and went on a little rant.
Between songs Nielsen attempted some banter, talking about how he can't believe the sun is still up past 9 p.m., or about how the Warped Tour always used to run through Calgary during Stampede.
Opening duties went to a hardcore punk band of self-professed "pain in the ass social justice warriors" called Sharptooth. The band just released their debut full-length, Clever Girl, last year and started  their set with the bluntly titled "Fuck You, Donald Trump" before moving on to "Vespa." At the end, vocalist Lauren Kashan jumped into the crowd and started screaming from the bar; at least she made an effort to make it feel like we were at a real hardcore show.

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