Molson Canadian Studio 1 Summers Lane

I was very excited to attend the SiriusXM Road Trip when it touched down in Hamilton. The tour across Ontario featured the stellar and diverse lineup of Billy Talent, Half Moon Run, and July Talk. Importantly, all proceeds from this tour went to the Red Cross in support of Lac-Mégantic.

Needless to say, the show sold out almost immediately. I was fortunate enough to grab a ticket when they released just a few more the day of. I’m also grateful to Global Spectrum and SiriusXM for the media pass which allowed me into the pit to take photos at the beginning of each band’s set. Being in the pit for a show this big was an experience!

July Talk
July Talk
July Talk
July Talk
July Talk
July Talk

I was most excited for July Talk. I recently discovered the band and they’ve become one of my newest musical obsessions since I first heard “Paper Girl.” Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay are an riveting musical pairing.

It’s said of their live show that Peter and Leah “physically exercise their interpersonal demons via everything from bite marks to blown kisses” (White Girl Records). They did not disappoint. Their set began with Peter and the band, followed by Leah walking out with a potted plant. A plant! I was sold. (At one point she handed it off the the crowd, requesting they make it crowd surf – easier said than done.) July Talk’s live show is high energy and theatrical. I loved the electric dynamic between the two.

July Talk
July Talk

I got to meet Peter and Leah after their set and had a great chat with Leah about Hamilton (she’s a big fan of Dundas, in particular!). Then we snapped a fun photo, not before a slightly awkward moment with the random guy we asked to take the photo. Points to Leah for the backdrop idea! We’re classy ladies.

I’m disappointed to have missed July Talk when they played here in the past at The Casbah and This Ain’t Hollywood. But better late than never – I really hope to see them back this way again soon.

With Leah from July Talk
With Leah from July Talk

Up next, Montreal’s Half Moon Run were an incredibly delightful surprise. One of my favourite aspects of going to shows is when you go in excited about one band and fall in love with another while you’re at it.

I was drawn in right away by Half Moon Run’s hypnotic, rhythmical sound. Their rollicking percussion, harmonies, and dark undertones are right up my alley. It was difficult to pry myself away after snapping my photos; I just wanted to stand there and soak it in.

I’ve been hearing their songs get more and more air play. I was so thoroughly impressed with this band and would love to catch them again.

Half Moon Run
Half Moon Run
Half Moon Run
Half Moon Run

It was already an amazing bill, but then it was time for the main event, Billy Talent. The Studio was jam-packed with fans eager to see the band. I still have my Billy Talent t-shirt from when I saw them years ago at Edgefest. I remember being so excited to see them live for the first time at the Toronto festival in 2004 and returning the following year when they were bumped up to headliners. Even though I’ve followed the band’s career since then, I was hit with a wave of nostalgia getting to see them again.

Billy Talent
Billy Talent

As guitarist Ian D’Sa, bassist Jonathan Gallant, and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk began to play, there was an exciting energy right away. From my view in the pit, I saw singer Ben Kowalewicz jump up and down a few times, pumping himself up before racing onto the stage and screaming his first note. I reverted straight into fangirl mode and remembered just why I love this band so much.

Ben commented that it had been a while since the band has played here. He declared there’s “no logical reason why” they shouldn’t make the trek to Hamilton more often and proposed to “make this the first of many nights.” Later on he gave shout outs to Arkells and Monster Truck. Ben also gave a little rant about our lack of an NHL team (which has his approval, should it come to that).

Billy Talent
Billy Talent
Billy Talent
Billy Talent

Towards the end of their set, Ben noted that it has been 10 years since Billy Talent’s debut album was released, and the end of August marked their 20th anniversary as a band. I blasted that album to no end and, much like that shirt (best band t-shirt I’ve ever bought), it holds up. Before their encore, they played “This Is How It Goes,” “River Below,” and “Try Honesty.” Belting out the call-and-response of their first single with a venue full of fans was just awesome.

Crowd during Billy Talent
Crowd during Billy Talent

It’s rare for a band have this kind of longevity and Billy Talent proved why they’ve stuck together as they continue to produce great music. Ben responded to the audience’s love and ended by saying, “Thank you for believing in the power of rock’n’roll.” Thank you, fellas!

– Kristin

Note: I purchased a ticket to attend the show and received a media pass courtesy of SiriusXM to take photos. Thank you to Global Spectrum and SiriusXM for the accommodation.

kristin
ihearthamiltontour@gmail.com
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing an influential social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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