I’m going to Riot Fest in less than two weeks. This will be my first huge festival so I went to my brother for some advice since he has survived Lollapalooza in the past. He told me to pick four or five bands that I absolutely had to see and then just go with the flow for the rest of the weekend. This was a great plan and I had my five bands picked out. I was feeling super great about my choices…. until last night.

It’s been less than twelve hours since I saw Billy Talent live and I already want to see them again. Someone’s getting bumped from my Riot Fest list (sorry The Wonder Years) just so I can see these guys again as soon as possible.

My brother and I used to be obsessed with the movie “Grind”. Yes, you know the one, the skateboarding one, and don’t try to deny that you didn’t love that movie! Billy Talent had a song in that movie, and although they didn’t play that particular song live, being able to see Billy Talent with my little brother was truly something special. We watched that movie over and over again, the reason we “discovered” Billy Talent was because of that song being in that movie.

Billy Talent is a unique band. Ben, the singer, has a voice that will stop you dead in your tracks. It’s higher than high pitched but still sounds natural. His screams will give you goosebumps whether you like the music or not. There’s just something about his voice that is so unnaturally natural that it’s impossible to ignore.

I remember listening to that voice while growing up and thinking that there was no way someone could have a voice like that. It must have been done in the studios or something. I was proven wrong last night. Ben’s voice was exactly how it was supposed to be even in a live setting and I was shocked. I’m pretty sure my jaw was on the ground for majority of the set as I tried to wrap my head around how it could sound so perfect and how it could be so real.

Not only was Ben’s voice real, but so was Ian’s hair which is almost as impressive. Ian, the guitarist, has some of the most impressive hair I’ve ever seen and the fact that it looked exactly like it did in all of the pictures of this band that I used to staple to my wall just blew my mind. His hair is like a flat top haircut mixed with a pompadour. It has height and stamina and is truly a sight to see.

When you mix Ian’s hair with Ben’s voice you have the undoubtable sound and look of Billy Talent. When you take that and put it in the live setting with the energy that this band gives off, you have a truly memorable show.

Some bands get up on stage and you can tell that they have been doing the same thing night after night. The banter amongst the band members and between the band and crowd can sometimes feel rehearsed. I get it, playing a show night after night has got to get tiring and once you find a schtick that works, you stick with it. I totally get it. Nothing about the banter between band members or band and crowd last night seemed rehearsed and it was quite refreshing.

Before I wrap this post, I have to give a shout out to Badflower, one of the opening bands. These guys were super clean and super good. They had an extremely unique sound but they were much more straight up rock n roll than the convulded genre that is Billy Talent.. The california vibe was alive and strong throughout their set making the music seem laid back but not to the point of being sloppy. Their set was explosive and, even though it was obvious the crowd was not familiar with the band, they kept the energy up and got all of us in the mood for a concert.

Like so many other nights, I got to see a band last night that I only ever dreamt of seeing live and it turned out to be everything I wanted and more.

Line Up:


The Dirty Nil

Billy Talent

Venue: Varsity Theater

Sausage Fest Meter- 8 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 25

Crowd Surfers- 0

Stage Divers-0

Moshability- Moderate

Broken Bones- None

Drunkards Taken Out By Security- None

Celebrity Sightings-None

Overall Score- 8 out of 10

Show on Deck- Blink 182— I will finally be seeing Blink 182 live!!!!