Burlington, ON hardcore OGs Grade came out of hibernation to play a late afternoon slot at the Toronto edition of Riot Fest. Sandwiched between metalcore crew the Ghost inside and pop-punks Mayday Parade and playing to an audience full of people who were still in elementary school during the band’s height, Grade had an uphill battle.
They came out swinging with “the Inefficiency of Emotion,” “Stolen Bikes Ride Faster” and “Seamless” in quick succession before frontman Kyle Bishop took a break and addressed the band’s alien-like status on the bill. “We don’t really fit in…but that’s always been the story,” commented singer-guitarist Greg Taylor later in the set.
Rather than playing as if they had something to prove, Grade instead played like a band with nothing to prove; they’ve earned their punk rock stripes and at this point, it was up to people to come to them. As Taylor pointed out, it’s a stance the band are used to. They certainly stuck out when their two opuses – Separate the Magnets and Under the Radar – catapulted them to the top of the underground in the late 90s. This was a band playing for themselves, and revelling in it.
Their set was primarily culled from the latter record, their best, but they’ peppered in favourites like “Conceptualizing Theories in Motion” from Separate and “Little Satisfactions” from swan song Headfirst Straight
to Hell, an album more than half of the current line-up didn’t even play on.
After apologizing for the un-punk prices for t-shirts at the merch booth (it was apparently out of their hands, a rare concession to a force outside the group) they ended with “A Year in the Past, the Future Forever,” the closest thing Grade ever had to a traditional hit, and “Triumph and Tragedy.” When these guys will pop up again is anybody’s guess, but it’s a sure bet it will be on their terms.
Check out an interview with Grade guitarist Greg Taylor here.