With The Bronx
Date: August 27, 2012
Venue: The Vogue Theatre
City: Vancouver, BC
Highlight: The entire thing
Reviewed By: Lexi Mars
14 years after an absolutely epic conclusion, Refused fans were given what would likely become the most surreal experience of their lifetime: a reunion tour. Many introduced to Refused post-breakup had come to love the band with the acceptance that they would never see them play together live.
Then the 2012 Coachella line-up was announced, and everything changed. Next thing I knew I was sitting desperately at my laptop (while away on vacation, now THAT’s dedication) refreshing the ticket sales page over and over again for a chance to see Refused killin’ it on tour in my very own city, Vancouver. My Facebook and Twitter feed overflowing with disappointment of a sold out show, I was one of the lucky few that managed to capture tickets within the short 17 seconds it took them to sell out
Fast-forward a few months and I find myself being thrown around by giant, sweaty bearded men (and several non-bearded ladies) as an unforgiving Dennis Lyxzén walks out across the crowd screaming his infamous lyrics to a sea of people faithfully grasping at his ankles. This was the second of their two show run in Vancouver, the sold-out Monday night that we will all brag about for years to come, and the night that flooded my Instagram with Swedish boys kicking ass (Instagram, sigh*, how soooo not hardcore of me…)
Not an ounce of nostalgia was apparent; everyone was lapping up every second and relishing the moment. The night was simply too much of a phenomenon to waste on memories and nitpicking; it was as if Refused had never stepped off the stage in the first place. A Molotov cocktail of a set list, bursting into the room the moment the curtain dropped with “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull” and leaving us speechless with uttermost satisfaction as they ended the night with “Tannhäuser/Derive”.
“Friends were toasting their Jack and Coke and PBR’s and celebrating the very not-dead Refused. “You kept this music alive when we were too stuck up to play it,” Dennis smiled and thanked the crowd as fans blew out their vocal cords reciting the lyrics to “Refused Are Fucking Dead”.”
An incredible two band bill, The Bronx set the stage for the legendary headliners and were just the band for the job. LA natives, the boys were brash and fearless when presented with a crowd absolutely itching for the next band; earning them respect with those who hadn’t yet been introduced to the glory that is The Bronx. Long time fans of The Bronx in attendance, had quite a treat, Matt Caughthran tore up the stage as Brad Magers’ bass tone stole rebel hearts. Caughthran caught a few laughs as he humbly spoke of Refused, comparing himself and bandmates to seals and dolphins at SeaWorld entertaining the crowd until they got what they came for: Shamu.
And Shamu came, and boy did he make some waves (okay, fine, that was REALLY cheesy.)
Lyxzén was joined by bassist Magnus Flagge, drummer David Sandström, and guitarists Jon Brännström and Kristofer Steen. Their set didn’t need all the gimmicks and glitter that far too many modern performers rely on, sold out shows aside, these boys are far from sell outs. No theatrical costumes or set, clad in ill-fitting dress shirts, their drum kit was plain and black; “Free Pussy Riot!!” recklessly painted across the kick drum. Lyxzén’s stage presence was undeniably fierce, the things that many in that room would have done to be his microphone just for one song.
The set had been had been littered with speeches reminding us of the morals and ethics that fueled Refused. Lyxzén spoke of how he was a very “angry” young man, who’s hyperboles of political shortcomings and corruption that produced his infamous lyrics were a tad bit too clairvoyant for anyone’s comfort. Preaching to his faithful followers, Lyxzén had the entire theatre completely captivated.
“Think about it,” smiled Lyxzén towards the end of Refused’s set. “The Bronx and Refused is a fucking good bill. You’ll tell people you saw this in 15 years time and they’ll never believe you.”
The crowd at the Vogue was as close to star-struck as punk-rockers get watching Lyxzén, but it was the chanting of “Free Pussy Riot” to earn an encore that left the frontman in awe of Vancouver. Living proof that punk is not dead, and we crave more than a celebrity icon, we crave a message and mission.
Boredom won’t get us tonight.