A punk rock show must go on despite weird weather like blistering heat turning into a heavy downpour. On August 17, The Chevrolet Indie Fridays’ concert series presented a free show at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, featuring The Flatliners with opening acts The Penske File and Pkew Pkew Pkew. The Flatliners were throwing on the show as a super sweet 16 party for themselves, celebrating their time together as a band.
The turnout was decent early on, even with the rain. Concert-goers congregated into three separate groups: the ones smart enough to bring umbrellas or ponchos were standing in front of the stage; the ones tucked underneath the tents at the beer booth were in the back; and the drenched ones (like myself) seeking refuge under nearby cover, were watching from the sides.
The Penske File hit the stage first. The enthusiastic trio from Burlington played a short, but lively and harmonious set of punk/folk songs. They were followed by Pkew Pkew Pkew, a pop-punk group from Toronto that grabbed the crowd’s attention with catchy riffs. Their music was upbeat, fast and comical with how the band altered their lyrics to follow the “no swearing” policy placed on the public event.
The night sky had completely cleared up right before The Flatliners took the stage. At this point, a mass of people spilled out and completely overtook Yonge-Dundas Square. Once onstage, the four-piece band jumped right into opening cuts “Hang My Head,” “Caskets Full” and “Resuscitation Of The Year,” captivating the audience immediately. The Flatliners went on to hammer out tracks “Liver Alone,” Carry the Banner” and “Sew My Mouth Shut” from albums Cavalcade (2010) and Dead Language (2013).These fast tempo, heavy songs energized the already boisterous crowd into forming mosh and circle pits, while a plethora of others crowd surfed above them. On the other hand, more recent anthemic tracks like “Indoors” and “Nicotine Lips” from the band’s 2017 album Inviting Light, saw attendants — drenched in a combination of sweat and rainwater from earlier — calm down and vocalize with the band.
The group performed a tight show but made time to deliver pleasantries and joke around with the audience between songs. At one point, frontman Chris Cresswell made a few jests and quips at the various billboards and video advertisements that adorn the Eaton Centre and the surrounding buildings, towering high above Yonge-Dundas Square. At another point, drummer Paul Ramirez threw a colourful pinata into the crowd — it was spiked and tossed into the air for only a few minutes before being torn apart.
In the tail end of the night, the band visited the classics “This Respirator” and “Eulogy” from 2008’s The Great Awake for the old school fans. After that, one final circle pit formed as the The Flatliners dished out their encore with the final song: “Fred’s Got Slacks” from 2005’s Destroy to Create. This wild and gritty good show serves as proof that after 16 years, The Flatliners have nowhere to go but higher up still.