Protest the Hero plays to big crowd and egos

The first time I saw Protest the Hero was a few years back at Heatwave festival in Burlington, Ontario, where they played to a crowd of approximately 50 people gathered around the stage. I say this not to sound like one of those music journalists who arrogantly remarks, “Yeah, but I saw them before they were big.” Rather, I mention this to illustrate just how popular Protest the Hero has become in only a few years.

Now, a band like Protest can bring out numbers in the hundreds, and that's exactly what happened at Fanshawe last Friday, as both Protest the Hero and These Silhouettes played as part of the Fanshawe's New Music Night.

These Silhouettes, the openers for the night came onstage at around 10:30 p.m. an hour and a half after doors opened, mind you, but no one was complaining. The five of them took up most of the stage, especially with their guitar/bass stacks, but there was just enough room left for their lead singer, who was instrument-less, to run around as he sang/screamed.

Musically, These Silhouettes play a style of pop-punk/emo that, admittedly, is nothing new, but fans of The Reason, Taking Back Sunday, Story of the Year, The Used, Hawthorne Heights, and that whole slew of groups probably won't be disappointed. In all honesty, These Silhouettes music reminded me of the concerts I used to attend a few years ago in high school. My music tastes have since changed, but it was nice to reminisce about the ‘good ol days' so to speak. My only qualms about their performance, however, came from two things: the band's frat-boyish stage banter (“Who's getting fucking smashed tonight?!”) and, believe it or note, the rude Protest the Hero fans that mocked, heckled and shouted obscenities at the band. Perhaps it was a case of a-few-too-many-beers, but come on guys, just because we are in college doesn't mean you have to act like an idiot.

After the five-to-six song set of These Silhouettes, the crowd dissipated to rush the bar, then quickly re-huddled, packed tighter than before in anticipation of Protest the Hero, who finally made an appearance at 11:30 p.m.

To huge cheers, the band entered ‘guns blazing' into their first song, complete with heavy metal riffs, tight punk rhythms and a combination of sung lyrics, screams and growls. One might think that with the amount of energy the band expended with their opener that they would be spent, but that simply was not the case.

Song after song, Protest carried on with mostly material from Kezia, with a few new songs interspersed. I was a little disappointed that they didn't play any of their songs from A Calculated Use of Sound, but it seems as though the band has chosen not to acknowledge their past. It seems that within the last few years, Protest has become very technical aware musicians; A Calculated Use of Sound, on the other hand, contains songs that are still heavy, but are more conducive to sing-alongs as they are easier to follow.

Kezia, and the new material they played seemed to have alternately been highly affected by Attention Defecit Disorder. If you've heard the same riff for more than 15 seconds, it'll change at any moment. While it does most certainly show off the band's instrumentational skills, it can also, for better or worse, make the songs much more difficult to logically keep track of.

Protest the Hero's sudden growth in audience and newfound popularity has had an effect on the band. The lead singer, for instance, displayed a fair amount of ego on stage as he shared a ‘poem' with the audience, which went: “Fuck you, here's to me.” He also relayed stories from touring that seemed either inappropriate or just, judging from the audience reaction, not that funny. He did, however, get the audience to perform perhaps the largest mass double-high-five in Fanshawe's history.