Louisville, Kentucky’s Coliseum have been soldiering on for seven years in the hardcore world, but have lately been shifting their sound. On a return trip to Ottawa for a show at the second-storey venue Cafe DeKcuf they didn’t spend a lot of time showing off their stylistic progression though. They went straight in for the attack with a hard-hitting punk rock show.

Ottawa quartet Asile (named after a colloquial French term for a mental hospital), the first of their two support acts, have been winning braise on the local basement punk scene, and showed why with a punchy, hard-charging set of furious d-beat punk influenced by equal parts Motorhead and UK82, with politically charged lyrics (in French) inveighing against foreign wars, the quest for oil, social alienation and other classic themes of political punk. Their eight tunes went by briskly and definitely left the crowd wanting more - particularly the one guy in the crowd who danced through every band’s set.

Quest For Fire seemed a bit out of place sandwiched between the hardcore sounds of Asile and Coliseum. The Toronto band have two albums of psychedelic sounds under their belt, and, while some of their music tears along at a good clip, they also have a freewheeling, jammy and mellow side that they weren’t shy about showing off to the crowd. The lone dancer didn’t seem to be dissuaded from his vaguely Woodstockian performance, and there were definitely a few faces in the audience for who they were obviously the main event, but a rather lacklustre response to attempts at stag banter would seem to indicate the audience was not in the mood for mellow.

Coliseum was born in the hardcore scene but have stretched out a bit since, even slapping a string section on the intro to their latest album, 2010’s ‘House With a Curse’. In a live setting, however, with the volume up, encroaching stylistic subtleties tend to get shoved under the carpet. The trio has played over 100 shows a year in its seven-year history, and show it with a tight, bristling attack.

First they invited the tireless audience dancer on stage, saying that since bassist Mike Pascal was feeling a bit under the weather they needed a fill-in. If he was feeling poorly, he didn’t show it: The eternally smiling Pascal bopped along with considerable energy for the whole show, while guitarisand vocalist Ryan Patterson thrust his hefty, bearded self around the stage between bellowing into the microphone with considerable vigour.
His heartfelt thanks to the audience for keeping them on the road with their continued support also garnered some sincere applause, before the band launched into ‘Lost In Groningen’, a tune apparently about how wretched that constant touring can turn out to be. Inviting the audience back on stage for one last number the band tore through a couple more riff-laden tunes and left the crowd at their 700th-odd show satisfied.

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