Bluesfest Day 8: Alexisonfire Rises Again

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Since they parted ways back in 2011 to chase peripheral passion projects—including a firefighting career for lead singer George Pettit—the only band ever is back.

And if they’ve aged while on hiatus (as many of their greying fans definitely have), it didn’t show on Friday night at Bluesfest.

By the time the hot sun had quietly set after the Offspring ended nearly an hour earlier on the main stage, inhibitions were conveniently slipping away just enough for a few bodies to be lifted off the ground and carried away by stage-front security.

A satisfying taste of those familiar rolling, melodic intros AOF fans have come to know and love were offered up right off the top with “Accidents” and “Pulmonary Archery,” followed later by their electric new single “Familiar Drugs” and “This Could Be Anywhere in the World.” Even with the noticeable absence of a couple hits like “.44 Calibre Love Letter,” many of their best from the mid-2000s off their third-studio album Crisis made for a stacked and generous set list.

Moshing through their heavily-charged new single “Familiar Drugs”—perhaps a metaphor for these Juno award-winning Canadians’ unanticipated renaissance after nearly a decade—plenty of dust rose and shirts were torn, but never enough to thin out the crowd.

By the end, bouncers were shooting out sobering, ejaculatory jolts of cold water with firehoses (similar perhaps to what George now uses at his day job) yielding a damp and dirty last few minutes for audience members closest to the front.

During an older fan-favourite, “Happiness by the Kilowatt,” George stepped back and let Dallas take the lead for the last encore song of the night: an unexpected take on the chorus of The Tragically Hip’s “Locked in the Trunk of a Car”—something diehard fans might recall him covering in the past  in his much softer sonic capacity as City and Colour.

While sober and with much less to prove than the angsty 20 year-old I once was the last time I saw Alexisonfire at Warped Tour in 2006, others like myself may have felt a bit apprehensive gravitating toward either pit to mosh (George shepherded two of them to “spin” on either side of the stage).

But even with the usual abundance of raging shirtless punks, the uniquely inclusive subcultural nature found in this genre was undeniable—especially given the little dude piggybacking his dad in bright pink earphones, right on the edge of the pit, the entire show.

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