As the sun beamed its rays of light onto the constantly cooking skin of the punks waiting in line for Alexisonfire to take the stage for Stampede’s Sneak-A-Peek night, a sense of “phoning it in” was ripe in the air. The same group of Canadian counter-culture punks that once inhabited the BMO Center for Alexisonfire’s 2012 “Farewell Tour” were in line again, ready to pounce on the band’s catalog. As fiery and ferocious as that 2012 show was, something felt strange about this night’s atmosphere. The audience was ripe and ready but as the band walked on stage and played an ever-slower version of “Young Cardinals,” it seemed as though this reunion wasn’t going to take flight.
Alexisonfire looked and felt more like Hard Core Logo, the quintessential fractured band from Canadian cult film, as opposed to a group that got back together for a reunion after already saying their farewells. Dallas Green was eerily reminiscent of Billy Talent and the band members seemed to feel this way as well. George Pettit seemed dead tired of the band, at this point like he was doing it more because Wade MacNeil decided to come back from his current stint as the new frontman for the UK band Gallows. Completely on point, Wade seems to be caring the least about anything except having fun and of all the members on stage, he was the only one who was destroying it up there, especially when it came to his cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry”.
Jordan Hastings should have felt at home playing with the band Billy Talent, which took its name from the 1996 film by Bruce McDonald Hard Core Logo. But even he was out of sorts with the rest of the band. Maybe it would have been better to get original member Jesse Ingelevics back behind the kit for a spark of the early days.
Their new persona is: we’re not the kids we used to be; but playing a set that could have been any anywhere in the world’s festival circuit, this was a missed opportunity to break out some water wings and make some cowboys squirm. It’s often joked that the Calgary Stampede’s Coke Stage isn’t even worth being free; but when the stage locks down recent acts like The Tragically Hip, Broken Social Scene, and Alexisonfire, it’s disappointing that they wouldn’t rise to the occasion.
Though they’re one of the finest bands this country has seen, perhaps Alexisonfire should have stayed retired. It doesn’t seem like they care any more about everything that made them legend. They will always be hailed as one of the best things to come out of Canada, alongside The Tragically Hip, Rush, The Smalls, Neil Young, and many others. I just hope this wasn’t the first time you saw the band live because the energy and setlist were completely unworthy of all previous experiences.
July 5, 2018
Alexisonfire at the Stampede Coke Stage
We Are the Sound
.44 Caliber Love Letter
Drunks, Lovers, Sinners and Saints
This Could Be Anywhere in the World
(Snippet of “When Doves Cry” by Prince)
Happiness by the Kilowatt
(Snippet of “Locked In the Trunk of a Car” by The Tragically Hip)