High school flashbacks and ageing Rock Stars at Rockstar Disrupt Festival


Atreyu, Circa Survive, Thrice and The Used on the same bill? Did I jump into a time machine and go back to the early 2000s when emo, screamo and metalcore was the music of choice? As a fan of that era of music, unfortunately, I did not. What I did do is attend Rockstar Energy Drink’s Disrupt Festival where I got to revel in nostalgia and see a bunch of my favourite ageing emo rock stars do what they do best. 

The day started early at RBC Echo Beach, but given the festival featured bands that primarily 30-year-olds would still be listening to, it’s odd that the start time was 1:30pm on a Wednesday afternoon. 

Common Rockstar Energy! We’re adults now. We have careers.

I showed up just in time to catch Atreyu hit the stage and was thankful that I made it there on time. I’ve been a fan of the band since their early days and can’t resist the chance to hear “Bleeding Mascara” live again. Lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas (to my surprise) was playing with the band. He’d been out of commission with a bad back and wasn’t touring with the band earlier this year. They put on a solid early set and surprisingly had one of the best crowds out of the remainder of the bands that night (maybe it was the Bon Jovi cover). Fans moshed and made metalcore relevant again, even if it was just for the night. 


Going from Atreyu’s action-packed set to California pop-punk noobs The Story So Far was a change of pace, but a welcome one at that. The band is fairly new to the scene compared to the main headliners, but they’ve amassed quite a following (myself included) over the years. Four albums deep with their latest Proper Dose (2018) being their best yet, these guys are on an upward trajectory and it showed with fans singing along to literally every song. Lead singer Parker James Cannon’s cool, and calm demeanour on stage complimented their music and the entire band played and sounded great dipping into old favourites and a lot of new music. 


One of my favourite moments of the night was Philadelphia’s Circa Survive. There’s no one quite like Anthony Green. His passion and energy on stage are intoxicating. I’m not sure where he stores all of that energy, but it’s amazing to see a frontman perform at his highest abilities every time you see them play. This show was no different. The rest of the band is chill, doing their thing and then there’s green running about like a certifiable madman. He spent close to two full songs up close and personal with the fans as he screamed in their faces and shared the mic with diehard fans at the front of the barricade. It was an impressive set and as expected, left me wanting me.


As the sun set and night fell upon Toronto, Thrice took to the stage to prove that they’re more than just a throwback band. Thrice have progressed and pushed their sound with every album they’ve released and their latest full-length Palms (2018) showcases that with time, they’re only getting better as musicians. They’ve got more to give and I hope they continue to put out new music in the future knowing they’ve “taken a break” in the past. 

Their sound was absolutely massive on stage. They’ve nailed their recording sound and it translates perfectly to their live show. I don’t know how guitarist Teppei Terranshi can get his rig to sound that good live and bassist Ed Breckenridge lives in his own world smashing the crowd with bass grooves, completely in sync with his brother and drummer Riley. A nearly perfect set and the perfect way to begin closing out the night and amping the crowd up before The Used hit the stage.


A giant white curtain dropped from the rafters as the crew rushed to get the stage ready for The Used’s upcoming set. An animation projected on the curtain and eventually revealed the artwork for arguably their best studio album ever In Love and Death (2004). It set the tone for their show, an ode to their past with no new songs being performed at all. Singer Bert McCracken genuinely thanked fans for spending their hard earned money and time to come out to the show and announced to the audience that it’s been 20 years of The Used. It was clear that the fans in attendance have been with them all these years as they roared back at Bert, cheering at that notion. The Used gave true fans everything they wanted… the classics. 


Regardless of low ticket sales and a change in venue, the day was a success in more ways than one. With the lack of Warped Tour, Riot Fest and pretty much any other festival in Toronto these days, Rockstar’s Disrupt Festival was needed and the fans proved there’s still a pulse within “the scene”. 

The Used Setlist

Take It Away
The Bird and the Worm
All That I’ve Got
The Taste of Ink
I Caught Fire
Wonderwall (Oasis cover)
Buried Myself Alive
A Box Full of Sharp Objects

View the gallery:

Words & Photography by: Steve St. Jean
**All photos © Beyond The Watch. Do not use or reproduce w/o permission**