Finding catharsis with Counterparts at The Opera House

Hamilton is where I grew up, so when I heard that our hometown heroes Counterparts were making their return to Toronto, I couldn’t refuse a show that supports a band coming out of the steel city like me. 

After a few drinks on Queen East, I strolled down to the gated line outside The Opera House, checked-in, and browsed through some merch (my typical routine). I was running a bit late, so just as I was perusing through some new digs, the lights dimmed low and my night began with Winnipeg’s Comeback Kid. They performed an electric set and announced right off the bat that they were a bit intimidated with their early set time, thinking that no fans would show up at 7:45pm. Those worries quickly vanished though as the almost packed venue filled with Comeback Kid fans who showed how loyal they were with circle pits blowing up throughout the set. It also didn’t hurt that the band just released a fantastic new record entitled Outsider (via New Damage Records). The hype was real. It was a cathartic performance that set the tone for the rest of the night.

Next up was Long Island’s Stray From The Path, a band that has elevated their sound and live show extensively over the years. Their sound (heavily inspired by Rage Against The Machine) has been crafted into something unique, breathing new life into music that tries to tackle heavy political topics. These guys aren’t new and it shows with their crowd interaction, demanding the attention of fans and creating new ones with every set they play. Tap open that Spotify and dive into their music to truly appreciate how far these guys have come. They’re doing something different and within today’s political and social climate, there’s something for everyone to resonate with.

Last on the bill was the night’s main draw and that was Counterparts. Just like Comeback Kid, Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy expressed some insecurities and worry that people weren’t going to stick around and watch their show, but again he too was proven wrong with a packed house waiting to erupt with fists. Every time I see this band perform live I’m impressed. They bring a different level of emotion to their live show and Murphy manages to make you feel all the emotions he’s screaming about. It’s not a run of the mill performance, you can see he’s almost reliving and breathing his own lyrics. It shows as he always looks pretty upset and that translates into his performance. He didn’t do too much talking in between songs other than letting fans know that Toronto was their second home and they’ve got a brand new record out on Friday (which is today as I write this!) entitled You're Not You Anymore (via New Damage Records). They played some new tracks but it was still too early to get any real fan response, but man oh man when they played their older tracks The Opera House was craziness. Especially when they closed out their set with “Compass”. Bodies were flying everywhere. 

The show was sick! I’m pretty stoked on yet another solid night of music at one of my favourite venues. Definitely a hard show to photograph but I managed to pull off some good snaps. Check them out above.

Words / Photography by: Steve St. Jean

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Steve St. Jean

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