Propagandhi & Friends Dismantle the Park Theatre
On Wednesday night, "Canadian secular rock band" Propagandhi played their first Winnipeg show since the addition of guitarist Sulynn Hago. They were preceded by the all girl 2-piece Mobina Galore and good ole' pop-punk Prairie boys Triggers, in what was a heavy, electrifying show. Sulynn and Co. absolutely ripped, bringing the house down at the Park Theatre.
Mobina Galore had the stage first. The band consists of a single guitarist and drummer, with both women doing vocals. They made up for their limited number of instruments with a crazed fervour that produced a surprisingly booming sound. Their set was short, but they were catchy, energetic and as a whole pretty solid.
Triggers are what one of Wednesday's attendants described as "the quintessential Winnipeg pop-punk band". From hearing them one could tell that they're a product of Propagandhi's varied discography and influence on local music. However, instead of lyrics about sociopolitical injustice, they wax poetic on "why it is we're in this city", a sentiment most Winnipeggers have shared at some point. Triggers' drummer in particular stood out, catching the crowd with infectious beats and an energy that the whole band could work off of.
Right before Propagandhi's set, one could see lead singer Chris Hannah peeking out on stage to do a quick sound check, before leading out the band in a disgusting all-over print Maple Leafs holiday sweater. Propagandhi launched like a rocket into their set, bouncing around from Failed States to How to Clean Everything. Bassist Todd Kowalski looked like he was ready to start a revolution, and his intensity carried on for the whole set. Sulynn seemed really comfortable in Winnipeg, and it was wonderful to see the crowd giving her such a warm welcome. Midway through the show, drummer Jord Samolesky also urged the crowd to be welcoming to the incoming Syrian refugees who will be making the city their home..
Although Chris Hannah called his first album "goofy and laughable" in Vice, he readily dragged out the old stuff, like Anti-Manifesto, to the delight of the venue's inhabitants. At the headbanging, purely-punk Fuck the Border, a sea of skinny white fists were thrust into the air for reasons of political and sonic allegiance to Propagandhi. The crowd were as receptive to the new as they were to the old. In this microcosm of punk fans/thrash fans/lovers of anything heavy in Winnipeg, there was quite the diversity (if you could call it that, among the mostly white, mostly male fanbase). Old punks, young skinheads, and long haired, ripped-shirt metal goons all jointly lost their shit to songs from the band's heavier, thrash-ier. Failed States,while the less energetic bobbed their heads in the back of the venue. Propagandhi's progression in their sound seems to reflect the city's hardcore kids, who seesaw in interest between the vague genres of punk and metal.
Their set ended with a roar for an encore, and they finally finished the night with Todd taking the mic, and leading a vicious cover of Cro-Mags' already-vicious Hard Times (calling it Hot Times, a play on the state of the world's climate). As if possessed by the spirit of John Joseph himself, Todd screamed into the mic and ricocheted across the stage, and the rest of the band echoed his fury. Hot Times was the final exclamation point on a thunderous show. If Wednesday night was a precursor for the madness that will be this evening's Propagandhi, show their last of 2015 (for which they did a raffle and raised $666 for the non-profit shelter Craig Street Cats), those who got tickets in the minutes before they sold out can expect to be blown away.