This Saturday is going to change your life. Actually, you might just end up doing some Christmas shopping alongside other quality humans, participating in a discussion about accessibility in our music scene, and seeing a few Canadian bands at the top of their game. Either way, you’ll be glad you went out.
The day kicks off with the first annual GABBA! HEY! HOLIDAY! SALE! from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Gabba Hey!, a.k.a. the Capital Rehearsal Studio, has increasingly become more of a centre for nice, fascinating people to make great things together. Put on by local record label Bruised Tongue, the sale is looking to be another prime gathering. Artists, clothing designers, and creators from around the city will be there to connect and maybe make some extra change for the holidays. Admission is pay-what-you-can (PWYC) and some proceeds will go to the Ottawa Food Bank. There will be vegan snacks. Gabba Hey! is an otherworldly place where good people come together, and there are dance-offs on Valentine’s Day.
Then, at Raw Sugar from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Debaser and Weird Canada are hosting a free discussion entitled FRYQ: THE GATHERING. A panel, curated by moderator Emily McQuarrie, will lead a conversation focused on accessibility in Ottawa’s music scene. The event will hopefully be a step toward being more inclusive of individuals who consider themselves to be outsiders in our community. Exclusion due to age, race, disability, gender, and sobriety will be touched on. Let’s have a talk about what we can do to find a space where we all belong.
At 8 p.m., the all-ages FRYQUENCY’S ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY will take us into the night. To celebrate the twelfth edition of Weird Canada’s concert series, Mugshots will be hosting an evening of psych, noise and weirdo-rock provided by Grime Kings, WTCHS and Fet.Nat. PWYC entry will also get you a copy of the Fryquency zine, finally finished after months of work from a crack team of local lizards. Last time I caught Grime Kings, lead singer/songwriter Callum Runciman continued to solo for nearly two minutes after a song was done. This show is a must.
Those are a few things that are happening Saturday. Come in from the cold and into warm rooms with art, tea and grunge bands.
What happens when three shirtless punks from Montreal come to Ottawa to sing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, sports, video games and fast food? You get an amazing ruckus performance by The BCASA at House of Targ!
BCASA, who used to be called Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America until they were required to change their name, played a bunch fast songs that mostly revolved around our favourite green super heroes, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael. They got the show started with “Annihilation,” which is about hockey, and then surged ahead with the all-powerful “Disco Fries.” It was then time to turn their attention to our beloved amphibians. With the crowd getting really into it, moshing and singing along, BCASA blasted through tracks like “Cawabunga Dude,” “Shell Shock,” “Turtle Power,” and one of my favourites “The Ballad of Casey Jonez.” Nick Raz hinted why the band wrote about Ninja Turtles: “This next song is on the album all about ninjas turtles. That’s what pushes you to the top of the international game, am I right? Am I right?” They also found time to fit in some songs about video games, which was appropriate considering they were playing at House of Targ – the only place in Ottawa that has more games than your childhood Nintendo collection. The crowd really responded to “Street Fighter 2 Turbo” and “Mortal Kombat.” Check out the video below of “Mortal Kombat,” quickly followed by “Breakfast Burrito.”
When it appeared that the show was coming to an end, someone in the crowd yelled for one more song. Raz responded, “One more song? We have one hundred left.” The boys then played “George Harrison and the Future Beatles,” off their album Fuck It Up Hard, and “Batman.” It was a super sweaty night which showed off the really fun side of punk rock. The side that has a lot of fun and doesn’t care what you think. It is not every genre of music where a band can flourish while singing about Ninja Turtles and video games. I know I count myself lucky to be able to have so much fun and see these guys live, and this show is definitely one of the strongest and rowdiest Targ has ever hosted.
Average Times rocking out at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Opening for BCASA was local garage punk band, Average Times. I have seen the four-piece play quite a number of times this year and it is always a treat. Average Times plays really catchy music and are also quite funny. For example, one of the guitarists Todd said “Just got news that my wife gave birth to a beautiful boy, this one is for you my little Mussolini Linguine. Welcome to the world, son.” Then of course he invited his newborn son on stage, who happened to be a sweaty, fully grown man. It was great to hear some new music from the band, too. I really hope we can hear some of those tracks on a new album soon, as their self-title record was one of my favourites from 2013. This also marked a big step for the band, as this was the first time that I had seen them where they didn’t play the crowd favourite “Wasted on Wine.” I love the song, but it is also great to see a band progressing and having more material to play around with.
It’s not every weekday that you see a music venue fill up with patrons, but the last Thursday a good-sized crowd at House of Targ. It’s no wonder, as the lineup was stacked and local psych-garage trio Organ Eyes were also releasing their new tape Daze Pace. This release, for me, was the focal point of the night, but Blonde Elvis and Hooded Fang wowed reckless late-night showgoers, myself included.
The show was co-presented by Arboretum Festival, Exclaim!, and Debaser, who are all trusted music masters in their own right. The night was pushed back a bit as the first opener, Blonde Elvis, got stuck in some pretty brutal traffic on their way from Toronto. Anyone who has traveled that stretch of the 401 knows that it can be a hellish few hours of driving, especially if things get slowed down by commuter traffic or a crash. We’re just glad they made it safe, and no one complained as one or two beers were consumed before the music started.
Blonde Elvis at House of Targ, Nov. 27
It wasn’t long before the Blonde Elvis took the stage and performed a quick but strong set. Since they were a bit late, lead singer Jesse James Laderoute made it clear that they would try to keep it going as they were tight for time. But that didn’t stop him from making light of the situation and joking around, making the crowd chuckle. They launched into their song “slow fall on egypt,” which absolutely blew me away. Laderoute’s vocals were bang-on, and he didn’t miss a note. Along with his other past project Young Mothers, he used to be involved with Slim Twig a few years back, and I can hear some of that sonic remainder in Blonde Elvis’s music. These guys are amongst a really great group of bands in Toronto, and are sure to keep achieving more success as time goes on. I really enjoyed their high energy set, and hope to see them in Ottawa again soon. I just wish I had seem them open of Thee Oh Sees last week in T.O.!
Organ Eyes new tape ‘Daze Pace’ and the Targ Zine
Local psych rockers Organ Eyes were up next, and it was a big night for them. Although not the headliners, they shared the glory because Thursday night was the tape release for their new album Daze Pace. They are one of the main reasons I Targ’d it up – I find Organ Eyes to be such a mystical, strange band in Ottawa. I mean that in the best way possible. The talented trio, made up of guitarist/vocalist Sam Pippa, bassist/vocalist Cam Steacy, and drummer Jon Bennet, are not the kind of group to settle on one sound or style. Coming off the release of their atmospheric album Visual Meetings in January 2014, Daze Pace seems like an opportunity for the band to experiment a little more and inject some rawness into the mix. Organ Eyes explored their lo-fi garage rock side with songs such as “Boca Breeze,” Spooky Cough,” and “Dog Gone,” but also stir things up with more melodic songs such as “Skinny Girl” and “Hardly Know Her.”
The set opened with an unreleased track called “Papavangelou,” and was comprised of most of the heavier garage tunes on the new album. After Cam gave Showbox a very nice shoutout, the band played my favourite song on the album, “Cave Song” (how did you know, Cam?). The deep, muffled bass line and tame verses exploded into a catchy and distorted chorus, all while flowing with bizarre lyrics from Cam. The song makes the listener feel like they’re spiralling downward as it progresses – and I love every second of it.
Organ Eyes closed out the set with another great tune called “Cocoon,” leaving us all wanting more. They certainly riled up the crowd and gained a few new fans at Targ, and hopefully sold lots of their really sweet neon green cassettes!
The final band to come on were the indie rockers from Toronto, Hooded Fang. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t really heard them before, but myself and many others were really getting into it once the band hit their stride. They had a bit of guitar trouble during their second song, but luckily Jesse James Laderoute swooped in and saved the day by supplying his axe. The band jammed on during the transition and everything went smoothly. Their music is slightly disjointed, but has a really funky groove that any listener could get into. As the set went on, everyone seemed to ease up even more and get into the rhythm. I really enjoyed the tones and reverb of the guitar, it reminded me of that surf sound that I love so much with a hint of punk influences in there. The arrangements were captivating and the aesthetic of their music translated really well live, which was aided by the new sound system at Targ – I really noticed a difference in the overall audio quality from past performances during Hooded Fang’s set. I couldn’t stay the whole time, which was a bummer because I was really into their performance. But hey, unfortunately buses don’t run all night long!
We are really excited about our new monthly series every third Friday down at Mugshots (75 Nicholas St.), we can hardly sit still. The December edition takes a bit of a different route than November’s, focusing on foot-stomping folk music with acts that you just can’t go wrong with. We’re lucky to have Steamers, Jonathan Becker solo (of North Fields/Dead Weights), and Chris Snow (formerly of Wind & the Wild) on board this time around, and it’s ramping up to be a show to remember. Our bud DJ Smiles will be back spinning vinyl before and after the bands, and last time he was cranking out the gems. Not to mention some more weird visuals provided by yours truly, because why not? So be sure join us before the Christmas craziness with the family starts and enjoy some of Ottawa’s best? We hope to see you there! More details & multimedia below…
Hailing from both sides of the Ottawa river, STEAMERS are a six-piece band that live to play folk music that is fun, loud and earnest. We call it “power folk:” one minute a fast blast, the next minute slow and low, in both English and French.
STEAMERS are hard at work completing their first full-length album Years to be released Spring 2015… keep your ear to the ground.
A veteran in the Ottawa music scene, Jonathan Becker has been performing and touring as a singer-songwriter since 2009 and under other monikers since 2005. He is able to explore his post punk/alt-folk side with his band Jonathan Becker & The North Fields, while continuing to perform with his punk rock/pop punk band Dead Weights.
CHRIS SNOW (Ottawa indie folk)
Founding member of the now defunct Wind & the Wild, Chris Snow charts his own path as an indie folk troubadour. Drawing on influences such as The Weakerthans, Jim Bryson, Bon Iver, and The Tallest Man on Earth, Snow’s powerful songs will captivate audiences.
DJ Smiles spinning vinyl before and after the bands! Come join the party!
Really weird projections/visuals by the Showboxers!
Friday, December 19
Mugshots – Ottawa’s Only Jail Bar
75 Nicholas St., Ottawa, ON
Doors at 8pm
$7 // PWYC // 19+
** JOIN US EVERY THIRD FRIDAY OF THE MONTH AT MUGSHOTS AS WE HOST GREAT BANDS THAT PLAY MUSIC YOU WANT TO HEAR, OK? **
July Talk demonstrated why they are the most entertaining show in the business Thursday night at the Algonquin College Observatory.
The rock group from Toronto took the stage and the sold out crowd impatiently chanted their name. Once up there, Peter Dreimanis said, “Man, the hallways are long and large at Algonquin aren’t they? We love Ottawa, our second show ever was in Ottawa.” Then Leah Fay spoke up, “That was the first time I ever threw up in a hotel parking lot.” Peter asked “Last time?” and Leah responded, “Definitely not.”
Peter Dreimanis covering Leah Fay’s eyes while she sings. Photo: Eric Scharf
The band then launched into their hit “Summer Dress,” which was partially written in a trailer at Bluesfest. They then played “Gentlemen,” where Peter sounds a lot like Tom Waits at the start and I loved it. During the song, he placed his guitar pick in his mouth and did a mouth to mouth exchange with Leah. She then turned around and did a mouth to mouth exchange with a lucky fan in the front row. Then mid-song, they got nearly the entire crowd to get down on their knees. Then having them rise only during the last line “We’re all easy to love when we are down on our knees.”
This was just the first step by July Talk to make the crowd an integral part of their performance. A July Talk show is the most entertaining show you can attend. Not only are they great performers who get the crowd involved, but they make you feel like equals. July Talk makes all fans feel like they belong and are vital to the show. There is simply no band in the country, maybe the world, that has better chemistry together and with the crowd than July Talk. I could write a paragraph like the one above about each song, as they never just play a song, there is always an element of “wow.” Instead I will limit it to highlight just a few of the extra special moments.
Check out the video below for a snapshot of the show. About mid-way through the video you can hopefully make out one of my favourite parts of the performance. When Leah passes water to a crowd member mother bird style in the middle of a song. The fan in question had earlier passed his baseball cap for Leah to wear. What made the moment even better was the look on Peter’s face – he was blown away and smiling non-stop ear to ear. And the band didn’t miss a beat. Look for it. It was gold.
One of the other big highlights was during “Paper Girl” when Leah could be seen chatting with a girl in the crowd as the song began. After a little discussion she pulled her up on stage and had her sing Leah’s first verse for her on stage. They then danced, sang together and Leah even picked her up and cradled her while spinning around. I am sure that lucky fan will never forget that night.
July Talk capped the night off with “The Garden,” which happens to be the first song they ever wrote together as a band. During the set, Leah cutely said “Thanks for liking us even though we are shitheads. Ottawa has always been one of our favourite places to play.” Leah, I think I can speak for all of Ottawa and say thank you. Thanks for being cool enough to play huge venues and still play nice intimate shows like the one you play at The Observatory Thursday night. Come back any time.
Slappa da bass man. Photo: Eric Scharf
Opening the show was Eamon McGrath and his band. The three-piece rock band did a great job as openers. They played a high energy rocking five or six song set the get things going. I really liked McGrath’s raspy voice when he sang and the fun he had with the crowd. When McGrath performed solo stuff it was slower and more folk-oriented, but with his band it was really rocking and catchy.
The album gets started with smooth bass and a subtle tickling of the ivory, which is quickly complimented by the lyrical flow of Just Peace and Street Scholar on the opening track “Poetically Just.” Jeepz has done it again masterfully crafting and weaving laid back beats with heavy ones throughout a solid album. Listen to “Night Falls” if you are looking for real heavy beats.
The emcees, Just Peace and Street Scholar, demonstrate once again that they are on the top of their game commandingly laying down rhyme after rhyme and transitioning off each other in ways that only people who have been a team for years could. There are several moments that make you stop and go “damn, did they just say that?” on this album. One line that really sticks out is the third track “Soul Remembered.” “I listen to the birds but i don’t do twitter,” is repeated several times during the song. So simple and clever. Then factor in they also included a wicked sample of an interview with Shad on the track that one can’t help but love. The other song that has me reaching to click the repeat button is “Noticing Change.” The opening verse is catchy, smart and makes me bob my head non-stop. Then after the chorus the spitting really starts as they have no fear rapping at you quick and then slowing it back down to flow you back into the chorus.
Hip hop in Ottawa is very much alive. With Painting Pictures in the Darkness, Just Poets have further solidified their place in the scene. Check out the album streaming below, as well as a video for one of my favourite tracks off the album “Noticing A Change.”
I love the Heartbreakers EP by former Ottawa band, Brights. Though short in length, it packs in a ton of great melodies that brought me back to many of the bands that first got me into music.
In particular, the tracks “Home” and “Five Year Plan” really stuck out to me. Every time I heard Home,” I could picture a crowd of friends, family and fans gathering around the band to sing along in those memorable “Whoa-oh-oh’s!” that dominate the chorus and outro. It was feel-good music with lyrics that resonated with me. To be honest, the lyrics hold true today, for anybody searching for a bit more meaning in their mid-20s and beyond.
“Five Year Plan” also hit home with a super-catchy, singalong chorus. It touched on the issues faced by those commencing adulthood, and to me, sounded like it focused on the responsibilities and challenges associated with “growing up.” After a beautiful guitar solo, gang vocals round out the song at the 3:25 mark.
The three other tracks (“Operate Me,” We Are Getting Restless,” and “Heartbreakers“) were also strong pop-punk songs that hit an emotional note with honest lyrics and catchy guitar hooks.
From what I understand, members of this band are still playing and writing in bands such as The Gallop, Stay Classy, Sound of Lions and more. If I’m lucky, maybe we’ll see a 10-year Brights reunion show in 2018 (fingers crossed!). Whenever I want to have a nostalgia trip, I throw on Heartbreakers. Solid, all-around!
Well, here we go again. As this city continues to build its repertoire of creative endeavours and off-the-wall projects, why not keep pushing the limits by integrating sight and sound with a space where visual art lives? I’ve always found art much more intriguing when it is combined with other forms – many of us want to be consumed and surrounded by a barrage on our senses. Experience it all yourself on Nov. 27, as it will be PWYC entry and cash bar. More details below !
Below is a new video for ‘Rain Song’ by Bosveld shot by Ottawa’s Pascal Huot.
Show Details: Dustin Finer & Daniel Freder + Bosveld
La Petite Mort Gallery (map) 306 Cumberland St, Ottawa
Over the past years I developed a strong relationship with Rich Terfry. Within the timeslots of R2 Drive the CBC personality had quelled my outbursts of road rage and entertained me for numerous hours driving along the Trans-Canada Highway, setting my adventure through music. Having never seen him perform as Buck 65, my friends told me “GO” and experience Rich as his alter ego. Seated up high in the NAC Theatre, I grew eager awaiting his arrival.
As the lights dimmed, a fly Buck 65 waltzed onto a pitch black stage in a slim black suit and tie. Accompanied by two microphones, a laptop, sampler and a turntable he promptly opened the show to the “Gates of Hell,” the opening track of his newly released Neverlove. Unleashing into the microphone, he brought energy into the theatre as red and blue lights danced all around him. The initial blast dissipated into “Zombie Delight” with Buck letting loose on stage, limbs flailing, parading as a mindless zombie, kept erect only by the mic stand. Several songs in he gave a brief formal introduction before continuing to unpack vacuum-sealed rhymes, “So Fresh.”
The evening’s presentation came on the heels of his new studio album Neverlove (released September 30, 2014). After 20 Odd Years, Buck’s musical experience is a vast blend of distinct audible elements with rich Canadian roots anchored by Halifax’s fabled hip hop scene. Neverlove, a departure from his early style, sees him using his lyrical abilities to express the deep emotions from his recent divorce — stepping through the “Gates of Hell” to learn how “Love Will Fuck You Up.” Infused with an electronic base, the composition of uptempo rhythms and a thumping club-style bass accompanies a melodic Buck who using his rhymes to elucidate his state of mind. In finding the key to his struggle, the album allowed Buck 65 to stretch his musical capacities and in turn developed an album that stands apart from his previous forays. Nevertheless, for those distressed to find a sombre Buck 65 can rejoice with Laundromat Boogie, an EP released a day before Neverlove in collaboration with one of Halifax’s legendary personalities Jorun Bombay. Laundromat Boogie is a comical allegory of Neverlove, explained through the art of laundering. Although the show was concentrated with songs from both albums, however he still found the opportunity to rip through his older catalogue.
The hour and a half long set saw Buck 65 in full command of the NAC theatre, with the occasional assistance of Tiger Rosa on back-up vocals — a contributor on Neverlove. For the most part he roamed the expansive stage presenting his play, a one man hip-hopera on point like a metronome, scratching, sampling, spitting bars while flashing his personal repertoire of dance moves. A consummate professional whose time spent honing his craft radiates each time he stepped to the mic, flowing with a continuous stream of beats he rode endlessly across a blend of tracks intertwining seamlessly. With command of his craft, he took control of the audience fastened in the Maxwell position. The room was quiet for the most part, with exception to Buck acolytes mouthing his words with arms in the air, but tracks like “Wicked and Weird” and “Gee Whiz” made you want to tear the seats from their place and rampage with Buck on stage. The venue befitted the mood of his Neverlove album, accentuating his abilities and providing an ample space to put on a performance as varied and creative as his music.
During the set he paused for interludes and indulged the audience with storytelling that has endeared him to listeners of R2 Drive. He admitted the venue presented a weird vibe however it was our mission to rise above it. He cracked jokes and told a story or two — most memorable an omitted excerpt from his upcoming book, expressing his adoration, as we all have, for Bob Barker and the moment he came face to face with the silver haired legend and his majestic slim microphone. Using each interlude he set the tone for the tracks to come. During the second interlude he warned us the show was about to get weird and wished to not be taken out of context, like a former colleague, right before picking the music back up with an ode to side boobs.
Along with deep emotional explorations and witty banter, hardier tracks saw Buck 65 hunched over, bobbing up and down as he spat audacious rhymes filled with the wistful rebellious nature which has forever been the cornerstone of hip-hop prior to the quest of the post-Pac/BIG throne. His style is a throwback, a combination of the stellar Atmosphere with the vocal stylings of Slug and the rhythmic mastery of Ant, with Beastie Boys/Rage Against the Machine hybrid flow and Biz Markie antics. The entirety of the performance was manic, chaotic and wildly creative — able to induce a hallucinative state through unique blends of sounds and lighting that matched his frantic pace. Not many hip-hop acts would have succeeded in such a venue, but Buck displayed nothing but utter confidence as an artist. Not holding back, he gives in to every creative impulse to explore the many facets of music, not only hip-hop, but country, blues, and R&B among others, all while maintaining his original essence — some buck from Mount Uniacke.
It felt like a trance was lifted when his impressive set ended. As he walked off stage we the audience, now addicts, grew to a raucous applause in an attempt to lure him back on stage. The crowd cheered loudly when he re-entered the room followed by Tiger Rosa to close the show with two more tracks. As he left the stage for the last time, the crowd rose to its feet to bid farewell to a phenomenal performance.