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Nonpoint and Hed PE Take Over Lee’s Palace in Toronto, Canada [Photos]

Toronto’s intimate dive bar venue, Lee’s Palace, was host to a couple of veteran ’90s acts as Nonpoint and Hed PE whipped through town.



Nonpoint on December 6, 2023, photo by Darren Eagles
Nonpoint on December 6, 2023, photo by Darren Eagles

Toronto’s intimate dive bar venue, Lee’s Palace, was host to a couple of veteran ’90s heavy, nu, alt, rap-metal bands this past week. Fort Lauderdale’s Nonpoint on their “A Million Watts” tour, along with Huntington Beach’s Hed PE as direct support, took the century-old building by the balls and held the 500-capacity crowd tight for a ride through their shiny new tracks and well-worn classics. The floor space in front of the stage took the form of a seething chaotic circle pit for much of the show for both bands. It’s nice to see that level of fan commitment these days. (Rather than the litigious-happy public that usually can’t come together for a bit of friendly close contact with fellow rockers and the common goal of feeling the music as one.)

Frontman and sole original band member from Hed Pe, Jared Gomes, took the stage and wasted no time whipping the room into that frenzy. Their sometimes reggae-infused rap and metal still hits hard and the “new” band absolutely killed it. Gomes did mention that their drummer Jeremiah “Trauma” Stratton couldn’t make it over the border, but one of our own locals named Joey sat in and did a kick-ass job. Kurt “Kid Bass” Blankenship and guitarist Nathan Javier backed up Gomes’ pointed, wailing vocals perfectly. Gomes, with his powerful, sometimes-gravelly delivery, still towers over the onslaught of the band for a 4-punch right between the ears. It was a compact 35-minute set that spoke of reggae, lots of pot and a frontman who played a handheld Hammond Melodica here and there. Snippets of “Get Up, Stand Up” from Bob Marley and The Wailers, as well as “Smoke Two Joints” from The Toyes, were lapped up by the fans, as was one of the band’s biggest hits, “Bartender.” The band’s new album, DETOX, drops on December 15, 2023. Curiously, they didn’t include any of the new material in this show.

After a short break, the stage was set up with frontman Elias Soriano’s platform at the stage lip as well as drummer Robb Rivera’s trademark sideways-oriented drum kit. Soriano and Rivera started the band way back in 1997 and are the remaining original members. Rounded out by Rasheed Thomas on rhythm and Jaysin Zeilstra on lead guitar along with Adam Woloszyn on bass, the band stormed on stage and opened with “A Million Watts” from their new 2023 EP, Heartless. Dressed in mostly matching bright red, the band thrashed around in a non-stop sea of headbanging dreadlocks and super tight grooves.

Soriano commands the stage with the same intensity as he has for the past 25 years. Lording over the outstretched hands of the hoard pressed up against the stage, feeding off and broadcasting back all the energy he can muster, Soriano is a compelling force. His passion for the work keeps the train moving forward.

The 70-minute set included three tracks out of the five on the new EP. The whole EP is fire, and the material was well received. Soriano let the crowd know the merch table had the EP available on old-school cassette tapes, including a Bluetooth player. Embrace the past and show it to the future. “Golden Gloves,” “A Million Watts,” and “Wannabe King” were great samplers of the new stuff for the show. The room erupted when the band kicked into “Fight For Your Right” by Beastie Boys, even though it was only a shortened partial version of the tune.

Skye Sweetnam, singer from the Hamilton, Ontario punk metal band Sumo Cyco, joined the band onstage for a full-on version of “The Day,” and she totally nailed it! The final song of the main set was arguably the band’s most popular, “Bullet With A Name,” from the 2005 album To The Pain.

Wasting no time, the band returned with Soriano and Thomas on vocals for “Tribute,” a mashup of material from rappers Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes and Wu-Tang Clan. The song was featured on Nonpoint’s first major label release, Statement, from 2000.

To say that Nonpoint puts on a wall-to-wall, full-value, full show from start to finish would be an understatement. Check them out in a town near you or on some of the biggest music festival stages in 2024.

Nonpoint Setlist:

A Million Watts
Chaos and Earthquakes
What a Day
Dodge Your Destiny
Wannabe King
The Wreckoning
Fight For Your Right – (Beastie Boys cover) (Partial)
Breaking Skin
Golden Gloves
That Day (with Skye Sweetnam from Sumo Cyco)
Bullet With a Name

 Hed PE Setlist:

Peer Pressure
Killing Time
Let’s Ride – (With “Get Up, Stand Up” snippet by The Wailers)
Raise Hell
Sophia – (With “Smoke Two Joints” snippet by The Toyes)