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Deborah Remus
Show Review: New Found Glory (05/26/13)
05/27/13 at 09:49 AM by Deborah Remus
So we already have a few New Found Glory show reviews on this website, but I still felt compelled to write one on my day off because this was New Found Glory's first show in Winnipeg and the first official tour across Canada. I don't know why they skipped over us the last 16 years, but I'm not really angry as much as I'm happy that they've finally seen the light. Aside from attempting to promote my favourite Canadian bands, I've always tried to promote the country in general because there's so much potential up here. I don't know if anyone actually listens to me, but that's seriously one of the main reasons I've remained a staff member here at AbsolutePunk. Most of the time Winnipeg puts on some pretty awesome shows and the more bands realize this the better. Last night was a huge success and I can only hope for the same when The Wonder Years finally get up here on June 8.

Living With Lions were up first and they were awesome as always. I've written it a million times, but I will never, ever, ever get sick of seeing those guys. There were too many people sitting way back in the seats, which I thought was crazy because this band plays Winnipeg all the time and I think that anyone who's into pop-punk should love them. But there was still an enthusiastic and dedicated bunch of us up at the front so I guess it didn't matter that much anyway. The guys sounded even better than they did in January, which I thought they would as they've continued to perform more shows as a four piece. They ended up playing a new song off the new 7" called "My Winter Vacation" and it sounded really good. It starts off with a cool bassline from Bill and I think everyone should love it. If you've seriously been a huge fan of this band since 2007 like I have I don't know how you can all of a sudden turn your back on them now. They mostly played stuff off of Holy Shit, plus the occasional choice cut from Make Your Mark and Dude Manor. It was a good set and of course it ended with "A Bottle of Charades."

Cartel is another American band that's never seen the Canadian prairies and it was cool to finally see them. I listened to Chroma a lot back in the day and then I started to lose some interest, but I have to admit the show last night made me want to take another listen. It was a pretty simple set, they mostly just stood around and played their songs, but they sounded great and they truly write some really catchy hooks. I enjoyed hearing "Deep South" live and of course it was cool to finally here "Honestly" too. More people showed up to see Cartel and they seemed into it. I noticed someone even made a sign that seemed to be filled with song requests for the band to play.

Lastly it was time for New Found Glory and the band honestly put on one of the better sets I've seen in awhile. I also think it's important to note that Sticks and Stones wasn't one of the records that got me into the genre, I've always thought some of their songs were catchy and that's about it, though that didn't stop me from immensely enjoying the show last night. As a casual listener of New Found Glory, I left the Garrick with a new sense of respect for that band that I didn't have before. They really know how to put on a really good performance and it basically boils down to 2 factors.

For one thing the show was just incredibly energetic. I was feeling pretty exhausted by the time they went on, probably because I was standing around all day at my retail job, but the second they ran out onstage and launched into "Understatement" I felt like I had drank 10 cups of coffee. It feels kind of corny writing that, but I don't know how you can't feel pumped by watching that band play. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the set-list because that's what this site is for. I will say that we got a second encore and they didn't end up playing "Kiss Me" even though it was on the set-list that was taped right in front of me on the stage. They put everything they had into every song and it was really awesome to see.

Secondly I really liked that it was intimate and they didn't bother putting up a barrier. Some bands do when they play the Garrick and in some ways I can understand their decision. Near the end of the set during "Hit or Miss" some drunk bro pushed his way to the front and threw beer right into Ian's face. I don't know how often that happens, but I feel like I have to apologize on behalf of Winnipeg because that was such an asshole move. That's why bands hire security and put up huge barriers, but I'm sort of glad that NFG doesn't seem to allow the one idiot in the crowd to ruin it for everyone. All of the guys were really great about interacting with the crowd, Ian even handed me one of his guitar picks by placing it on my head, of all places. It's been a long time since I've brought home a souvenir from a show so that made the night even better in some ways. I was pushed up against the stage for the whole thing and I wouldn't have had it any other way. The best shows are always the ones where you feel like you're part of something, not just a random spectator watching from a distance. NFG definitely delivers that experience and that's why you should go see them.

Tags: new found glory, cartel, living with lions, show review
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I Saw Broadway Calls Last Night...
04/10/13 at 07:36 PM by Deborah Remus
And I just wanted to say that it was awesome. The fact that they actually came back to Winnipeg, the fact that they played all my favourite songs and the fact that I was right in front of Ty for the whole set definitely added to the experience. After going to so many "big" shows lately it was really nice to return to something more intimate, something that felt more like a party than an actual show. That's the main reason that I'm not writing an actual review, because I have a hard time reviewing something that isn't really supposed to be some huge spectacle. This is the type of show where everyone hangs in the crowd for the opening bands, where there is no encore or elaborate stage setup. It's just a bunch of people spending the night together and enjoying some really awesome music.

Oh, and I want to give props to 1971 for ending their set with "Pain For Pleasure." Thanks for doing what the real Sum 41 didn't have the time for almost two weeks ago.
Tags: broadway calls
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Show Review: Billy Talent (03/28/13)
03/29/13 at 08:57 AM by Deborah Remus
Near the end of Billy Talent's set, while they were playing their first hit single "Try Honesty," Ben Kowalewicz stopped singing to let the crowd in on a few facts. For one, he mentioned that this summer will be their 20th anniversary of playing in a band together. For another, he mentioned that it will be their 12th anniversary of being known as Billy Talent instead of Pezz. And also he gave a shout out to Sum 41, who took a chance on them before anyone cared and brought them on their first real tour across Canada in 2001 or 2002.

And while I don't mean to correct him, I think he has the dates wrong because I remember attending the very tour he's talking about on May 25, 2003 at the Burton Cummings Theatre right here in Winnipeg. That was the first of countless shows I've ever attended over the years and that makes attending the Dead Silence tour 10 years later all the more meaningful to me. Tons of things have changed over the last decade, not only in my life, but in the lives of the bands as well. But the one thing that hasn't changed is that they're still playing shows and I'm still into the same music I loved when I was in grade 7. I feel like this tour is just concrete proof that it was never just a phase, that there was something really special going on that night in 2003 and I think it's cool everyone (except Brownsound) is here to commemorate it:

Over the years Billy Talent and especially Sum 41 have been incredibly supportive of up-and-coming Canadian bands. This was no different last night when they selected Indian Handcrafts from Barrie, Ontario to open up the show. I have to admit I don't know that much about this band, aside from the fact that they only have two members and they're signed with Sargent House, but I still enjoyed their set. They lack the energy and charisma that brings a lot of arena shows to life, but I have a feeling if I saw them at a place like the Pyramid they'd be a lot more into their element. They never addressed the crowd until the end of the set and even then it was only to introduce themselves and talk about their Jagermeister sponsorship. I really think they could have done a better job bringing some life into their set, but the music was good.

Hollerado were in the same boat because they never played arenas before either, but this quirky pop rock band from Manotick, Ontario proved that they are born naturals and absolutely commanded the crowd. They kicked their set off with "Americanarama" by having a pogo party on stage and in between songs they were just as lively. Instead of spending a lot of time plugging themselves and the record they just released in February, they chose to compliment the crowd (whether it was by mentioning the Winnipeg Jets or Propagandhi) and tell the back story behind one of their tunes. Like Billy Talent opening for Sum 41 in 2003 and Protest the Hero opening for Sum 41 in 2004, they left the crowd wanting more and I can only assume they're going to have a bright future ahead of them.

Up next was Sum 41 themselves and I was quite excited for their set, mostly because the last time they played Winnipeg was in 2005 and the last time I saw them was in 2004. After the departure of Brownsound they stopped touring Canada as much and Deryck Whibley's back problems forced them to cancel shows in 2007 and 2011, but they finally returned last night and that's all that matters I suppose. Deryck also acknowledged this during their set, saying they were "fucking assholes" for taking so long to come back and I can't say I disagree with him, haha.

I was curious to see what they would play and in the end their choices surprised me a little bit. For a band that talked themselves up so much surrounding the release of Screaming Bloody Murder, I found it very interesting that they chose to play none of those songs. I'm not really disappointed because I didn't really like that record, but I still find it amusing, especially when I think back to that free documentary they released awhile back. I'm not really too sure if it's because they don't like those songs after all, they know most of their fans prefer their older material or they wanted to keep up with the 10th anniversary theme, but whatever the reason the older material is what we got. They also busted the first cover I've seen them play, which was a lively punk version of Queen's "We Will Rock You" that was incredibly well done.

As for the actual performance, it was absolutely phenomenal. I was sort of doubting them, but they came back and definitely restored my faith in their band. I'd have no problem slamming them in this review if I thought they actually deserved it, but I can't do that because there's nothing to really complain about. They came out to AC/DC's "TNT" and then Deryck (who still has his spiky hair that's currently dyed red) addressed the crowd saying "Here's Johnny" before launching into "The Hell Song." The band sounded amazing and they looked like they were having fun, which is always a plus. Deryck was an even better front man than I remembered him being, he seemed even more confident this time around, but maybe that's just me. He reminded me a bit of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong at times and that definitely isn't a bad thing. He tried to keep the crowd engaged and at one point he pulled up a few people to watch their set from the side of the stage, which I thought was cool. I still miss Brownsound, but Tom Thacker is amazing guitarist while Stevo and Cone were just as awesome as I've always remembered them. One thing I noticed is that the band chose to improvise some of their songs, which I thought added a nice touch. At the end of "Motivation" they played this metal instrumental and for "In Too Deep" they launched straight into the loud chords instead of doing the softer guitar intro. The only thing that sort of bummed me out was that they didn't launch into "Pain For Pleasure" after "Fat Lip." Deryck going behind the drums and Stevo grabbing the mic was always a highlight back in the day, but their set was a little on the short side and I guess they didn't have the time.

The Hell Song
We're All to Blame
In Too Deep
Walking Disaster
Over My Head (Better Off Dead)
We Will Rock You
Still Waiting
Fat Lip

While Sum 41 ignored their newest material, Billy Talent definitely didn't follow suit and they played a lot of tracks from Dead Silence, which was released last September and proves they still have the capability to release good records. Of course they also tossed in their beloved singles and some choice cuts like "This Is How It Goes," but the new record definitely dominated the stage set-up and song choice that night. I think this is my fourth time seeing Billy Talent and they sounded great as always, especially Ian D'Sa who was playing a guitar with a maple leaf on it. The band talked a lot about Canada and hockey in between songs, giving a shout out to the late Stompin' Tom Connors and making a bet that they'd play a free show in Winnipeg if the Jets beat Ben's team (I'm assuming that's the Leafs?) in the playoffs. The stage set-up was similar to how it's always been, but I noticed they had screens on both sides of the stage that captured the guys as they were playing. I thought that was cool, but I was also in the stands so I wasn't exactly that close to the stage. A lot of people were complaining that Deryck looks awfully old in the birthday thread I made for him last week, but based on where I was sitting and without the use of the screen for their set, I can't really comment, haha. I will say that all the guys in Billy Talent were looking pretty good though. Near the end of the set the camera was flipped and it showed everyone in the crowd going crazy instead, which was another nice touch.

As for the crowd, it seemed to be a decent turnout and it wasn't just your typical punk show kids. I sort of feel silly for writing this, but we spotted a guy with an Insane Clown Posse jacket and after watching people in my Critical Studies of Discourse class give a 45 minute presentation on Juggalos I just have to mention it in this review. I think it really hammers home my point that Billy Talent brings out a large, diverse group of people and I think that's a pretty awesome thing in most cases. With their trademark sound and because Americans don't care, I really think it's laid the groundwork for Billy Talent to become a band that we can really call our own as Canadians. This was one of those nights that makes me really happy to live in Canada and be around for some of the amazing music that's being made. I guess I can still be pissed that American bands like Fall Out Boy pretend we don't exist, but we have our own amazing bands right here in our own backyard and that's something I should be more grateful for. Make sure you go to the remaining shows of this tour and show your support for our amazing homegrown talent!

Lonely Road to Absolution
Viking Death March
Devil in a Midnight Mass
River Below
Love Was Still Around
The Ex
This Suffering
Stand Up and Run
Rusted From the Rain
Saint Veronika
Runnin' Across The Tracks
Diamond on a Landmine
Man Alive!
This Is How It Goes
Try Honesty
Devil On My Shoulder
Fallen Leaves
Surprise Surprise
Red Flag

Tags: show review, billy talent, sum 41, hollerado, indian handcrafts
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Show Review: All Time Low (01/21/13)
01/22/13 at 11:19 AM by Deborah Remus
Usually I only go to shows when I'm really into the bands playing, but sometimes curiosity (and a little nostalgia) gets the best of me and that's pretty much what happened last night. The nostalgia hit pretty hard when I walked into the Burton Cummings Theatre and they were blasting Cute Is What We Aim For, followed by some older New Found Glory, Blink-182, The Matches and My Chemical Romance. It perfectly set the tone for the night and reminded me why I was there in the first place, even though it was -27 degrees Celsius outside.

Fireworks were up first, although I was more curious to see them than nostalgic. The band kind of fits in with The Wonder Years and Living With Lions, but they still went over with the crowd of predominantly teenaged girls pretty well. Most people chose to stand rather than sit, which I thought was interesting, especially because most sat when Teenage Bottlerocket and The Menzingers had the exact same slot on the exact same stage. I still think the lead singer's voice is too high pitched for my tastes, but other than that they sounded pretty good and brought a lot of energy to their short set. In between songs they discussed the seats and the cold, which is something every band talked about that night. The only surprising thing is that they never paid much attention the their first record. They didn't even play "Detroit," but I guess bands can get sick of songs sometimes. These are the tracks that I caught, but I could be missing one:

I Grew Up in a Legion Hall
X's On Trees
Oh, Why Can't We Start Old and Get Younger
The Wild Bunch

Yellowcard almost didn't make it because their bus broke down in the cold, but thankfully they did because they played the best set that night and I'm glad I finally saw them. Ryan Key joked a few songs into their set that they'd hurry up and get to "Ocean Avenue" as quickly as possible, but truthfully the band's new material translates just as well, especially the live version of "Always Summer." The guys weren't quite an energetic as I was expecting, especially since I heard Sean Mackin does back flips, but they were still talkative with the crowd and fun to watch. This band will always make me think of grade 8, but seeing them live showed me that they haven't lost all relevance in 2013 and I will be giving Southern Air another spin. This is the set list that has been circulating around and it seemed pretty accurate to me:

Surface Of The Sun
Way Away
Rivertown Blues
Light Up The Sky
Always Summer
Rough Landing, Holly
Sing For Me
Here I Am Alive
Only One
With You Around
Southern Air
Lights And Sounds
Ocean Avenue

While it was a co-headlining tour, someone had to play last and that was All Time Low, which was probably a good choice. The crowd was excited to see Yellowcard, but they were even more excited to see those guys come out and play some songs. It's been over 5 years since I saw All Time Low with Boys Like Girls, Valencia and The Audition and a lot has changed, aside from just the larger venue. The band has put out three more records since then and they definitely focused on Don't Panic and Nothing Personal the most. "Dear Maria, Count Me In" and "Coffee Shop Soundtrack" were the only songs I really knew the words to, but I can't say I was shocked by their decision to keep it more current either. The newer stuff doesn't stand out to me as much, though I do like "The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver," a song that the band unfortunately didn't play that night.

Yet, despite my jaded attitude the crowd seemed to love the songs the band chose to play. The girls were all screaming, while holding signs and even paper hearts. One thing that didn't really change was the stage banter about testicles and running naked through the streets. These guys were even more talkative than Yellowcard and Alex Gaskarth proved again that he's really good at fronting that band and commanding the audience. There was a point where he made everyone on the floor sit down in their seats while he lectured the people in the balcony for sitting there texting and people actually seemed to listen to him. It's like the crowd would seriously do anything that he said.

I see the bra throwing is still going on, something I didn't see the last time, but remember reading about through this very website. There were just a few on Jack Barakat's mic stand, but still, it's something that puts a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I know it's not supposed to be offensive, but for me it just continues the idea that women are only capable of being girlfriends or groupies. I wish more girls would be inspired to do more than just fool around with guys in bands, but I'm afraid that I don't see that attitude changing anytime soon either. Their fangirls are pretty intense, but at least the band is willing to laugh at them a little I guess. When Gaskarth tossed his water bottle into the crowd, some girl immediately tossed it in her purse and he joked around with her about it, even doing a Gollum style "My Precious" impersonation. Ultimately All Time Low proved they know how to keep their target audience happy and in the end I learned I'm not really a part of that audience like I once was:

Somewhere in Neverland
Forget About It
For Baltimore
If These Sheets Were States
Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)
Coffee Shop Soundtrack
Lost in Stereo
Backseat Serenade
The Reckless and the Brave
Dear Maria, Count Me In

Tags: all time low, fireworks, yellowcard, show review
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Show Review: Marianas Trench (10/21/12)
10/22/12 at 07:48 PM by Deborah Remus
After releasing three commercially successful records, Marianas Trench have finally started headlining arenas in Canada. And despite listening to them since I heard "Say Anything" in 2006, this was the first time I got around to catching them live. I wish I didn't put it off for so long, but I'm also really glad that they've reached this level and can pull off a huge tour like this. If there's any band on Hot 103 deserves a show at the MTS Centre, it's definitely them.

The fans were the main focus that night and the guys tried to interact with them as much as possible throughout the show. Before they launched into "Beside You," Josh Ramsay said their first show in Winnipeg was at the Zoo. Then they showed a slideshow of pictures submitted by fans while they performed as a way of saying thanks. At one point Ramsay decided to sing in the crowd and once he got to my section girls bolted down in hopes of getting close to him, which I can tell was the highlight of their night. During the encore he let fans choose the song he would cover via Twitter, which was my personal highlight of the night. I was expecting him to cover Justin Bieber or another current artist, but to my pleasant surprise he launched into "Jumper" by Third Eye Blind while sitting behind a huge white piano. The moms and girls in my section didn't seem to get it, but I was totally smiling.

The band promised theatrics, which they more than delivered. At the start of the show Ramsay came out of a jack-in-the-box and he was attached to some wires which allowed him to float around in the air. They decided to recreate the underwear scene from the "Desperate Measures" music video and that was just one of the many costume changes. I think it's also worth mentioning that there was a person in a pink gorilla suit running through the sections pumping up the crowd. Basically there was always something crazy going on, the band really tried to do something different for each song. And if you think I'm talking about Ramsay too much while ignoring Matt Webb, Mike Ayley and Ian Casselman, it's just because he stole the show and truly commanded the crowd. The guy has an amazing voice on recordings and it was really cool to finally see him in action.

As for what they played, it was mostly songs pulled from Ever After which was released last November. It's another concept record and while they didn't play the whole thing front to back, they showed video clips which recreated the storyline in between songs, which I thought was a nice touch. I wish they busted out "Perfect" but I can't really fault them for it. I was entertained even if I didn't get to hear some of my personal favourites:

Ever After
All To Myself
Shake Tramp
Desperate Measures
Truth or Dare
Beside You
Toy Soldiers
Celebrity Status
Haven't Had Enough
Cross My Heart
So Soon
No Place Like Home

The opening slot should have gone to Brighter Brightest, but instead it went to Vancouver's Anami Vice, who were pretty much a poor man's Down With Webster. I was thinking of skipping the real Down With Webster, but I remembered AbsolutePunk introduced me in 2008 and my curiosity got the best of me. I still think they're cheesy, but I can't deny the fact that their set was a lot of fun. Like Marianas Trench they know how to entertain and give the crowd what it wants, which is never really a bad thing. There was a cool drum solo in the middle where they used the theme from Super Mario and a clip from "Gangnam Style." "Your Man" was super catchy and I sort of enjoy that song for what it is despite some of the objectionable rhymes. The main track I recognized was "Rich Girl$," a Hall & Oates mash-up which the crowd seemed to know all of the words to. And lastly I have to give them props for inviting fans to meet them after the show at the merch table. I wasn't about to take them up on it, but I think it's pretty cool a band at their level is willing to do that. All the bands really tried to break the barrier that night and it was truly refreshing to see.

Tags: show review, marianas trench, down with webster, anami vice
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Show Review: Brand New (08/07/12)
08/08/12 at 04:42 PM by Deborah Remus
Eight years is a long time to be waiting for something and that’s the amount of time I’ve been waiting to see Brand New. I was 14 back then and while lots of things have changed over the years, my love for this music scene is not one of them. I’d have to say living on the Canadian prairies is the reason why it took so long, since the region is not a place many bands tour, especially bands from the United States. Brand New did play a show here back in 2007, but I was 16 and wasn’t really allowed to go to shows so all I could do was cross my fingers and hope they’d come back. Thankfully five years later they have and I knew when this tour was announced in March that there was no way I wouldn’t be there.

My expectations for this show were obviously sky high and I’m happy to say that Brand New definitely met them the second they came on stage for “Millstone.” All of them seemed happy, which I think is worth noting as well. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard the band can be a little standoffish, something I didn’t experience. Jesse didn’t talk much in between songs, but when he did he sounded enthusiastic for sure. They didn’t have a backdrop or anything like that, but they did have plenty of lights.

The venue was switched from the Burton Cummings Theatre to the Garrick, something I have mixed feelings about. I think Brand New deserve to sell more tickets, but the Garrick only holds 750 people and it’s my favourite venue in the city, one I haven’t been to since Face to Face were there in May 2011. I’m not too sure if they sold it out, since I know they were still selling tickets when I arrived. Still, I think they came close because it was quite packed and I got there just in time to secure my spot in front of Vinnie’s side of the stage. If I was standing further back or sitting in the seats, I don't think my experience would have been quite as awesome. I wanted to be right up there in the middle of everything and I'm really glad that I was. There was sadly a barricade, but it was a bigger show and there were a number of Jesse Lacey fangirls so I guess it was needed.

The set list has been circulating all over the Internet, including our Tour Discussion forum, so if you're really interested you can head there. It would have been nice to hear "Logan to Government Center" or "Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis" but I really can't complain because I think they put together a fairly diverse selection. I'd rather write about things that seemed to be more unique to the Winnipeg show and the first was the addition of "Mix Tape" after "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" and “Seventy Times 7.” I was wondering if there would be crowd surfing during the Your Favorite Weapon songs and there definitely was. There was also some great sing alongs, especially for “Mix Tape.” I find that song to be pretty cheesy now, I legitimately remember my older sister laughing out loud at the lyrics, but it was awesome to finally hear it live. For those three songs it was almost like they were an entirely different band in some ways, especially when they started up “Jesus” right after.

We also got “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” which made me really happy because that was the first Brand New song I ever heard and the reason why I bought Deja Etendu. Hearing it was pretty special and I loved how Jesse’s guitar was out of tune at first so he just sort of hummed the opening guitar line. For the encore, Jesse came out to perform “Play Crack the Sky,” which was what I was expecting and it was an excellent way to end their set which lasted almost two hours. It’s hard to pick a favourite point, but near the end was probably the best. The live version of “You Won’t Know” was just phenomenal because the guys put everything they had into it. Vinnie grabbed one of the lights and started using it to strum his guitar while Jesse dropped to his knees as he was singing.

I was there strictly because of Brand New, but the openers were amazing too and both sets ended up blowing me away. An Horse are all the way from Australia and their songs remind me a little bit of something Tegan and Sara could write. Jesse Lacey himself actually came out to play bass for them, which was cool. He looked really happy up there with them and was singing along to most of the songs. I had to do a double take at first because he looked like he was a member of the band, not just a fill in. I really wish I was more familiar with Cursive, I’ve heard some stuff off The Ugly Organ, but I never really gave them the attention they probably deserved. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen someone sing with as much emotion as Tim Kasher does and I know I’ll be checking out more of their stuff now.

I just want to use the end of this to thank Union Events for bringing such an amazing tour up to Canada. And of course thanks to Brand New for agreeing to come up here to play for us, even though the drives are long and the crowds aren’t as big. I appreciate it.
Tags: brand new, an horse, cursive, show review
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Show Review: Brighter Brightest (08/04/12)
08/05/12 at 10:02 AM by Deborah Remus
I just got back from Ecuador a few days ago and while I ended up missing Strung Out thankfully I didn't miss Brighter Brightest at the Ellice Theatre last night. I had an amazing trip, but it was kind of nice to get back into the music, especially when I've only been to three real shows this year and the last one was in April. The night started out with a lot of local talent, but I was out for dinner and didn't end up catching any of it. I couldn't get there until 9, which wasn't too late in the end because The Red Threat were just setting up. The band hails from Edmonton and I first heard of them when they were added to the Ten Second Epic tour, the one The Dangerous Summer dropped off of before missing their flight to the UK shortly after.

Anyway, the band sounded alright, but they weren't really my thing. They made me feel like I stepped back in 2005 and in some ways I'm over that sort of stuff. Their lead guitarist had a haircut that looked like the one Pete Wentz used to have, complete with the little emo swoop. But they don't really sound like Fall Out Boy, they reminded me more of Silverstein without the screaming. And to be honest with you the crowd seemed to be on my side. Only around 11 people were actually standing at the front, everyone else was sitting down near the back for the whole set, which I think is a decent indicator. I remember seeing TAT with Lagwagon four years ago and a lot of people were skeptical, but by the end every single person was at the front of the stage. Overall I felt that their singer should have moved around a lot more than he did. Their bass player made up for it though and he was the most entertaining to watch out of all of them. They even had little stage props with their names on them at opposite ends of the stage. But in the end I can't say their set amazed me, although it was cool to see another up-and-coming Canadian band.

Brighter Brightest didn't have any stage props, but they didn't really need them. It was my second time seeing these boys and they were solid as usual. Like The Red Threat, Brighter Brightest aren't overly energetic either. They just kind of stand around and play, but the fact that they write hooks better than most bands covered on AP.net definitely makes up for it. Their songs are unbelievably catchy and it's awesome to be able to hear them in a live setting because they can pull them off just like they sound in the studio. The guys looked like they were having a blast too and Derek was eager to talk to us in between songs.

They obviously played a ton of songs off of Right for Me, which is the debut record they released almost a year ago that I still listen to regularly. "It's Not Easy," "All I Know," "Everyday," and "Who I'm Supposed To Be" are just some of the songs that made the cut. The second last song was "Welcome Home," which was the only cut from the EP they released back in 2009 I believe it was. They closed with "Right For Me," a song most of the small crowd definitely knew the words to. I was a bit worried that the crowd was just going to be teenage girls, but that wasn't the case at all. I think that further shows the wide appeal this band has compared to The Maine and All Time Low.

And of course, the guys always seem to do a cover song and this time it was "Teenage Dirtbag" by Wheatus. A little cheesy as even Derek admitted, but still tons of fun and the guys pulled it off. I think I preferred the Taking Back Sunday cover last year, but still awesome. They didn't do an encore, but "Call Me Maybe" came on immediately after for better or worse. Just seeing them alone is worth the $10, I think they could get away with charging more, but that's what the merch table is for I guess. Support these guys and go to the shows! The Canadian scene needs all the help it can get in my opinion, especially on the prairies where only around 50 people show up.

Tags: show review, brighter brightest, the red threat
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Record Store Day... With Frank Turner!
04/22/12 at 10:37 AM by Deborah Remus
I think Winnipeg had the best RSD celebrations in Canada yesterday and a lot of that had to do with an appearance from Frank Turner. He just happened to be here while opening for Joel Plaskett and he was awesome enough to come to the Folk Festival Music Store to play some songs with his acoustic guitar. I already thanked him, but I want to thank him again for being so awesome to Winnipeg. We appreciate it!

There's a tiny room behind the main store and it was pretty packed for his set. I'd say you could probably squeeze 20 more people in there if you tried, but if anymore than that showed up, some people would have to stand outside. You could even spot John K. Samson in the store, which I thought was pretty cool! As I said last October, he's got a big following here in Winnipeg. And just like last time, he was charming as usual and sounded great. Here's what he played if anyone is interested:

Peggy Sang The Blues
Time Machine
Balthazar, Impresario
Long Live the Queen
American Girl (Tom Petty cover)

After he hung out in the store and eagerly chatted with anyone who wanted a word with him. As for the actual vinyl, a copy of Refused's The Shape of Punk To Come captured my attention instantly. I also walked to Into the Music since it's so close. When I was going to Red River I was in the Exchange District every day, but I haven't been there since I saw Brighter Brightest at the Death Trap in September. It's probably one of the nicer parts of the city, at least I think so, and the weather held up for an awesome walk through the area. It was an amazing way to spend a Saturday afternoon and I hope whoever reads this had a great Record Store Day too.
Tags: frank turner, record store day
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Show Review: The Flatliners (04/12/12)
04/13/12 at 07:43 AM by Deborah Remus
I've lost count how many times I've seen The Flatliners over the years, but it's a lot. Whether they're headlining or opening for someone else they're always worth seeing and last night was no different. The band packed in a decent sized crowd into the Ellice Theatre and they kicked things off with "Meanwhile, In Hell..." before launching directly into "Carry the Banner" from 2010's Cavalcade. They don't talk much to the crowd, they don't have a crazy stage set-up and they don't do anything overly entertaining, but it works for them. All of their songs sound excellent live and they don't need anything extra to keep you interested. The crowd was pretty tame, but someone nearly cracked their head open the last time they headlined Winnipeg so that's probably the reason people didn't get as rowdy.

A lot of songs were from their latest record, but you won't see me complaining. It's held up over the last two years and it was the moment they truly lived up to their potential in my opinion. They ended their set with "He Was a Jazzman" and it was cool seeing "Monumental," "Shithawks," "Liver Alone," and "Count Your Bruises" make the cut alongside "Christ Punchers," which was on the Monumental 7-inch. "Eulogy," "Mother Teresa Chokeslams the World" and "Fred's Got Slacks" were some of the older tracks and at this point I've listed most of their set. They played for about 50 minutes so you can expect quite a few songs.

A bunch of Winnipeg bands opened the show and one of them was this metalcore band called Waster. If you like Cancer Bats, there's a chance you might like them. They're pretty heavy, they used to be called FAME and Daniel from Carpenter released their new record. Kids and Heroes reminded me of a cross between Blink-182 and Set Your Goals. I heard of them through our weekly Mailbox Listings and while I didn't review the record, I did listen to a few songs and was pretty stoked to see they recorded a cover of Wave's "California." That song was the jam back in grade 5 and I wish they played it, but I can't complain too much. A punk band called Asado was the first to play and I'm assuming other cities will see their local talent represented at their dates as well.

So if this tour is coming near you, check it out:

Tags: the flatliners, kids and heroes, waster, asado, show review
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Show Review: City and Colour (02/03/12)
02/04/12 at 11:21 AM by Deborah Remus
I’ve seen Dallas Green with Alexisonfire numerous times over the years, but this was the first time I saw him solo as City and Colour and it was a good, but obviously different experience. It was nice to finally see someone at the Burton Cummings Theatre who fits in with how the venue is laid out. All you’ll find is red plush seats, but those are perfect for taking in a show like this, which is a lot mellower than the shows I usually go to.

Dallas came on stage all dressed up with his band, sticking to the left side instead of moving to the front and centre where his bass player stood. I’m probably reading into it too much, but I thought it was interesting he was in the same place he stood with his former band. He kicked things off with “We Found Each Other in the Dark” and instantly I realized just how great he sounds live. Usually there’s a slight difference, but with Dallas, there’s no difference between his amazing voice live or on recordings. It was perfect. After he dug into “Sleeping Sickness,” one of his more popular songs and then into “The Death of Me” before choosing Little Hell’'s “The Grand Optimist.” For the most part he just kept on playing. He wasn’t as conversational as some of the other solo acts I've seen, but I can’t say I was expecting him to be either. It wasn’t until he played the somber “Missing (Serravalle)", a song he wrote about his religion teacher, that he really got talking.

I was too busy watching him on stage to really know what happened, but apparently some people were standing up, moving around in their seats and trying to get a better angle to capture the performance on their iPhones. He said “What the fuck?” and stopped playing before launching into how people paid money to see the show and how everyone in the crowd should be respectful to each other and sit down. The majority of the crowd seemed to agree and cheered as he was talking and I could see where he was coming from to a certain extent. Before he started his new song, “Body in a Box,” he asked everyone to do him a favour. He didn’t want anyone to get on their phones to recapture the show, he just wanted them to be experiencing it in the moment. And after that, the diverse crowd was on its best behaviour. There were plenty of people like me who grew up on Alexisonfire and MuchMusic, I even ran into two people I went to high school with. But it was so much more than that, I saw some people my age at the show with their moms, some younger families, even some people who had to be in their 40s or 50s. He sold a venue that holds just under 2000 people out and it was a big reminder of just how big City and Colour has gotten over the years.

Back to the show, he basically continued on as before. He got the crowd to do a sing along for “What Makes a Man?” and that was cool. The way the chorus is set up, he needs two singers and it worked out well. Then he played “The Girl” and he started doing some friendly small talk, commenting on the abnormally warm Canadian winter this year. Before long, it was time for the encore. He came out alone, still sticking to the left side of the stage, and apologized for lashing out earlier that night, which was met with cheers. Then he launched into “Comin’ Home.” Eventually his backing band returned and they played “Sometimes (I Wish)” before leaving the stage for good. It was a good set, about 16 songs I believe. He played for an hour and a half.

The opening act was Rhode Island’s The Low Anthem and while they sounded great, I can’t say their set was too memorable. The type of music they play, it’s definitely not energetic, but I felt like they could have engaged the crowd more.
Tags: show review, city and colour
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Living With Lions In-Store Performance (11/24/11)
11/24/11 at 07:03 PM by Deborah Remus
I went to go see Living With Lions again today. They couldn't find a real venue, I guess The Death Trap is gone. Surprisingly I found out through a fellow staffer who read about it through the comments on Punknews. So I don't know why it shut down, I know it had a few issues, but it did the job and booked some awesome punk bands during its short existence. Instead they did a free in-store at this tiny record shop in Osborne Village called Music Trader. Luckily for me my class was done at 3:45 so I was able to walk there just in time to catch their set.

I was wondering if it was going to be acoustic and just a few songs, but no, they set up their gear and played a full set to around 25 people. They're heading back to Vancouver and they decided to do some shows on the way back from Toronto so it's cool they thought of us. Because I'd love LWL either way, but part of my love stems from the fact that they never forget Winnipeg. A lot of American bands they're lumped with skip us every single tour, but they never do and I'm so thankful for that. It would be nice to see the crowds grow a bit, I love seeing them play in such an intimate setting, but they deserve bigger things. They are my favourite band making music in Canada right now.

Stu told us Bill drank his piss, but that was about the extent of the banter. I didn't get the full set, but here's an idea of what they played. And a shitty picture, the only thing that sucks about no stage is the fact that people block your view unless you're a giant:

Regret Song
Maple Drive Is Still Alive
She's a Hack
A Bottle of Charades
Rough Around the Edges
Whatever You Want
Honesty, Honestly

The only thing that sucked was I was too shy to introduce myself. I really need to stop being so quiet, I think 2012 is going to be the first year I do something about this because I'm starting to realize I have a serious problem.

EDIT: I was just flipping through the University of Winnipeg newspaper and I was surprised to find an article that answered my question. The Death Trap shut down because of money and lack of community support. Doesn't surprise me, but it's still a bummer.
Tags: living with lions
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Show Review: Frank Turner (10/22/11)
10/23/11 at 03:08 PM by Deborah Remus
I've been to the West End Cultural Centre numerous times over the years, but I've never seen a nearly sold-out crowd packed inside. In fact, it's usually quite the opposite. Cobra Skulls, Broadway Calls and The Flatliners played to a fairly empty room. And while attendance was up for Protest the Hero and Moneen, it still felt cold and empty. I'm not too sure why Winnipeggers came out in droves this time, but I guess I shouldn't complain. He definitely deserves it and England Keep My Bones is one of the better records that came out in 2011 so far. Maybe the fact that it was a Saturday had something to do with it too, I really have no idea.

Anyway, things did start off slower for Into It. Over It., but that's usually the way it is for the opening acts. I was able to grab a spot right in front of the stage and was there for the rest of the night. Evan is the first person I've seen to sit down while performing at a show like this. He had a little stool and he sat there for the entirety of his set, hunched over his acoustic guitar. He was very talkative, but he doesn't really talk with the crowd. Instead he just talked to the crowd. He started off the set talking about Winnipeg and continually remarked about how polite and friendly we were. He also liked to go into detail about the songs he wrote, giving us background on them. He told various little stories, like how his bike got stolen and some kid put it on Craigslist so he was able to get it back. And of course, he still had time to actually play songs. He ended his set with "Anchor" and played tracks off of his new full-length Proper.

Andrew Jackson Jihad played an entertaining set with just an acoustic guitar and stand-up bass. It definitely inspired me to check out the material in further detail. They seemed to have a number of people in the crowd who were huge fans, there were some big sing-alongs and some people were even shouting out requests. At the end of "American Tune," some guy in the crowd shouted "Fuck white male privilege!" really loudly. Other songs included "Rejoice" and Jesus Saves," the crowd participation remaining enthusiastic throughout. And for "Love Will Fuck Us Apart," Evan came out and played the kazoo. They were the least talkative act that night, choosing to focus on playing their acoustic-folk-punk songs instead.

And of course, Frank Turner. The opening bands were good, but they definitely didn't come close to what Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls had to offer. The room was packed and the crowd went crazy. It was a diverse crowd too, there were a number of people who looked old enough to be my dad. But the crowd still got pretty rowdy and the politeness Evan was talking about earlier started to wear off. Some dude jumped on stage and grabbed Frank, trying to hug him and refusing to let go. A security guard came on stage five seconds later to haul him off, which is something I haven't seen in awhile. There was also some fighting, which Frank called out from the stage. And heckling too, AJJ did nothing about the fans calling requests, and Frank was quick to silence them.

But all that made the show slightly more interesting, for better or worse. I saw Frank a little over two years ago when he opened up for The Gaslight Anthem at the Garrick. It was just him and his acoustic guitar, so it was cool to finally see him backed up with drums, keyboards, electric guitar and bass. The bass was loud in particular, you could really hear the bass-lines and sometimes they entirely overpowered the actual guitars. They were all wearing matching white shirts and they were all very energetic, moving and jumping everywhere. It was nice to see some energy because the opening acts remained quite still.

He opened with "Eulogy" to a loud cheer before going into "Try This At Home." About halfway through the set, the band left the stage and Frank Turner sang "English Curse." He also played "Dan's Song" alone and encouraged everyone to play "air harmonica" before the band returned. Crowd participation was a huge part of this show, he really wanted everyone to sing along and get into it. Seeing everyone sing "There is no God" during "Glory Hallelujah" was a pretty cool thing to experience.

He played "Long Live The Queen," "The Road," and then launched into a cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" before coming back for the encore himself. With just an acoustic guitar, he proclaimed his love for Propagandhi and The Weakerthans before strumming the opening of "One Great City," changing the lyrics slightly and ending with "I love Winnipeg." I've been going to shows here regularly since 2007 and I've never seen people attempt this song until this year when I witnessed two covers. Dave Hause and Mikey Erg played this song back in June too.

The last track of the night was "Photosynthesis." Frank gave his acoustic guitar to Evan and he jumped around the stage, getting the crowd ready for the biggest sing along yet, where everyone was to shout "And I won't sit down and I won't shut up. And most of all I will not grow up." Frank really knows how to bring his songs to life and you can't get that same experience sitting in your house and listening to them on record. It was a great way to end an amazing night. And totally worth attending even if I got soaked because I had to walk there in the middle of a gigantic thunderstorm.
Tags: show blog, frank turner, into it over it, andrew jackson jihad
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Show Blog: Brighter Brightest (09/02/11)
09/03/11 at 12:45 PM by Deborah Remus
I ended up missing Brighter Brightest when they were in town two weeks ago and in some ways I'm kind of glad because this show on their way back to Toronto appealed to me a lot more. Mostly because of the venue, I don't really like The Park Theatre, but The Death Trap is awesome. I've seen the most shows there this year and it's quickly becoming one of my favourites in Winnipeg. We needed a small all-ages venue and this more than delivers.

Plus the opening local bands appealed to me a lot more this time too. First up was The All Night, one of those guys is an AbsolutePunk member and has sent me numerous private messages so it was cool to finally see his band. They were pretty decent, I had to miss some of it because of an interview with the headliner, but from what I caught I enjoyed. Recognized songs like "Wasp Country" since I ended up with their EP through my work placement at Uptown in January. Next was Dangercat who I caught with Living With Lions. Their set didn't change much, there was more moshing, but that was about it. Apparently they have a new drummer too. It was good though.

And Brighter Brightest, they had a pretty good turnout and sounded great. They sounded a little rough performing on MuchMusic a few weeks back, but that certainly wasn't the case last night. They kicked off their set with "All I Know" and "Everyday," which are the first two songs off of Right For Me. They continued with new songs before launching into a cover of "You Know How I Do" by Taking Back Sunday. It sounded awesome and I hope they release a recording of it sometime. That's who I think of when I listen to this band so it was the perfect fit in many ways. I don't think of The Maine, I think of TBS, Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line and Brand New's Your Favorite Weapon. They're bringing back the sound AbsolutePunk was founded on and unlike countless other bands they actually do it justice. They tossed in "Welcome Home" off of their EP, which is the first song I heard by them. And then they closed with the title track "Right For Me." It was a very intimate set and I'm really glad I got to experience it. I think these guys have the potential to blow up in Canada and while I'll go see them regardless, I do prefer my shows like this.
Tags: brighter brightest, the all night, dangercat, show blog
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Show Blog: Blink-182 (08/25/11)
08/26/11 at 09:16 AM by Deborah Remus
"I'm confident this is one of the best fucking line-ups you'll ever see," said Against Me!'s Tom Gabel, before launching into "Don't Lose Touch." And in a lot of ways, he's absolutely right, especially since I grew up on all three of these bands. They're still some of my favourites and to see them together on the same bill was pretty awesome. And the fact that this line-up is pretty much exclusive to western Canada made the show even better. Living out here, you get used to losing all the amazing tours to Toronto and for once I can say we ended up with the better deal.

It's best to see Against Me! without a barricade, but even with one they can still deliver an amazing show. They played a fairly diverse set, especially compared to the last time I saw them play an arena. Some people were into it, but most of the crowd seemed indifferent until they played their radio hit "Thrash Unreal" at the end. I usually hate it when bands don't talk to the crowd very much, but somehow Against Me! can pull it off. They're one of the more energetic bands you'll see live and it's great to just watch them play.

Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Cliche Guevara
White People For Peace
New Wave
White Crosses
Don't Lose Touch
Because Of The Shame
Walking Is Still Honest
Sink, Florida, Sink
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
Thrash Unreal

The band I was most excited to see that night was Rancid and they definitely lived up to my high expectations. I was fortunate enough to catch them at Rock on the Range two years ago, but their set was incredibly short and it was raining so I was glad to catch a longer show. Tim Armstrong came out solo in his trademark leather jacket and hat, wearing sunglasses. He addressed the crowd and launched into "Radio" with the rest of the band coming out shortly after. The way he carries himself and the crowd, moving all over the stage, bending his mic stand, few guys come close to him. I can honestly say he's one of the best front men I've seen perform. I was wondering if they might be a bit rusty, especially since this was their first night and they haven't toured much, if at all, this year. But they weren't. Lars was just as energetic, especially when it was Tim's turn to sing and while Matt didn't move around as much, it still looked like he was having a blast. Same with Branden, I still think it's so amazing he left The Used to join up with Rancid.

They had a gigantic backdrop and used two of Blink's screens, but since there weren't any close-ups they probably could have done without. Rancid were on stage for an hour and played at least one song off of all their records. Their 2000 self-titled was mostly ignored and not surprisingly, most of the tracks came off of ...And Out Come The Wolves. It would have been nice to have heard "Hoover Street" and a few more from Life Won't Wait, but I wasn't too surprised. They made a good choice and and the crowd was definitely into it. Maybe I wasn't the only one who was most excited for Rancid after all.

Roots Radicals
Last One To Die
Journey To The End Of The East Bay
Olympia, WA
East Bay Night
L.A. River
It's Quite Alright
Outta My Mind
Maxwell Murder
The 11th Hour
Listed M.I.A.
Old Friend
Fall Back Down
Time Bomb
St. Mary
Ruby Soho

And of course, Blink-182. While I was mainly there for Rancid, there's no denying my love for Blink. And if I never got into Blink, who knows if I would have picked up any Rancid records in the first place. By now the floor was pretty much packed full of people and I'm glad I had seats. I discovered just how much I hated pits in arenas at their reunion show in 2009. I read Alex's review and I honestly think it sums up the show I saw as well. I agree that this was their best yet, although I'm not too sure if that was because I could actually pay attention to what was happening onstage this time. The guys sounded great, but they were lacking the energy Rancid had. Their set was very flashy, they made much better use of the screens than Rancid did and no matter what, Travis' drum solo will always be amazing. The confetti cannons at the end of "Dammit" add a nice touch too.

The set-list seemed to be identical, but they might have added in a few more joke songs. And of course, the guys delivered with their usual stage banter. Before "I Miss You" someone tossed a bra to Tom and they made a joke about big testicles before Mark put it on. The new songs sounded good and made me even more excited to hear Neighborhoods. Ultimately I'd say the show delivered, although some people behind me loudly complained that they didn't play "Adam's Song" when it was over.

Feeling This
Up All Night
The Rock Show
What's My Age Again?
I Miss You
Stay Together For the Kids
Blow Job
After Midnight
First Date
Happy Holidays, You Bastard
Heart's All Gone
Man Overboard
Ghost On The Dance Floor
All The Small Things
When You Fucked Grandpa
Family Reunion

And even though they won't read this, I want to thank Blink for remembering western Canada because not enough American bands do. They could have opted out like My Chemical Romance, but instead they came and put together an even stronger line-up.
Tags: blink 182, rancid, against me, show blog
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Show Blog: Living With Lions (07/12/11)
07/13/11 at 12:44 PM by Deborah Remus
This was my first time seeing Stu because school made me miss the last two shows. And he was awesome, definitely more energetic than Matt was. It was a crazy show compared to last time I saw them. That’s getting to be a long time ago too, all the way back in 2008 with Carpenter and Aspirations. Matt was even sick that night so Chase had to take over the vocals.

Although I shouldn't be too surprised by the craziness. I heard some dude almost cracked his head open and had to be taken to the hospital in April. The crowd was bigger than the one for Sharks, but it still didn’t seem like they sold it out. I think it was the perfect venue for them. It was mostly less talk, more rock. Except when Chase broke a guitar string and Stu started telling a story about how he staple gunned some guy in the chest earlier that week. My favourite part was hearing “Maple Drive Is Still Alive” because that song is absolutely amazing. I was blown away the first time I heard it and they did the live version justice. “A Bottle of Charades” was fun too since the crowd really got into it.

This isn’t the exact set-list, but it’s pretty close. They only played for about 40 minutes and no encore or anything like that:

Regret Song
Later Is Better
Mark Has Bedroom Eyes
Cold Coffee
Maple Drive Is Still Alive
Honesty, Honestly
When We Were Young
A Bottle of Charades
She’s A Hack

Heartsounds were decent. The vocals sounded a little fuzzy, but I think that was the venue’s fault and not theirs. They played three new songs (“Drifter” “Elements” “Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Open”) and the rest were from the first record. Their set was about the same length and they took some time to chat with the crowd. Apparently it was Laura's 25th birthday last night.

Dangercat opened and they had a bigger crowd than Heartsounds. I know they’re local, but still! Those people could have stuck around, especially since the Living With Lions guys made the effort to show up in the crowd. Anyway, I like the songs I grabbed on Facebook. I liked them enough to give them a news post. And while I enjoyed their set, they didn't blow me away like I was expecting they might. They're still a new band though so I'm definitely not writing them off at this point.
Tags: living with lions, heartsounds, dangercat, show blog
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