With the rain pouring down it was a nice day for a white wedding with the New Swears!
Ottawa’s party boys all dressed in white garbage bags, started the show with Davey Quesnell (Pregnancy Scares/Steve Adamyk Band) dressed as a priest. He asked ”Audience will you take the New Swears as your band? News Swears will you take the audience as your fans? You may now kiss the band!”
Once the formalities were done it was time to get some beer, and they opened with ”See You in Hull,” which starts with ”didn’t make it to the beer store, so see you in Hull!” As they started rocking our faces off, inflatable animals and palm trees, confetti, silly string, rings, play money and more was launched into the crowd. Quite the spectacle!
The crowd was crowd surfing, moshing and all around rowdy the entire set. New Swears played with great energy and made a mess of everything. They separated the crowd for a wall of death, and then played the passive and slow jam ”Paradise.” They closed out the set with ”Rather be Dead” and then walked off away from the madness.
On day four I saw a lot of great acts at Saw Gallery. Teenanger from Toronto played before New Swears. Teenanger, have this sort of old school hardcore feel to them. The drummer was rocking a really nasty shiner on his right eye and the band played a great set. I really like the song ”Surveillance” and the anthemic ”Conflict of Interest.” The lead singer said ”it has been nice seeing so many friends at Explosion, it has been a Broverdose.” And I can’t not mention that they played ”Gnar” which is about amazonian psychedelic shrooms. They closed with the lead singer saying ”New swear up next, let’s get drunk!”
A band called Hollywood played in place of The Kidnappers from Hansburg, Germany. Hollywood was some great fun rock. The crowd loved the addition, as they were dancing and singing along. I really enjoyed the song ”Cold Ones.”
Sugar Stems, from Milwaukee, brought their very fun pop rock to Ottawa. Their light and upbeat music was a nice change of pace. I really liked the combination of voices, with female and male vocals who are very different from each other. I dug their new single ”Like I Do,” it is great and I recommend it.
I was lucky enough to see Chit Chat in at a private and intimate show at Vertigo Records the day before. They were excellent once again. The Ann Arbor rockers delivered a really rocking rendition of ”Will Never Know,” which is quickly becoming my favourite track of theirs along with ”Attitude.”
Ottawa’s very own Street Meat where not what I expected. Reading their name on the schedule I imagined a bunch of scruffy looking dudes, you know meat from the street. Instead it was two lovely ladies on vox, a drummer and an iPod. The whole set was dedicated the drummer’s daughter, who was front row and center and danced the the entire time. ”Sex Pose” and ”Lady Porn” did the trick for me. Check them out when they play around town, they are quite unique.
Thalidomy Kids, from Moncton, NB, capped off a three band run from New Brunswick. I truly enjoyed their opening song, ”Spirochaete.” Their dark punk sound was perfect for the gloomy rainy day we were having.
The psychedelic punk sounds of Astral Gunk shook up those who decided to come out early. The boys from Sackville, NB, were clad in Hawaiian shirts and shades. They played a great set that saw many instrument changes. The band just kept switching, bass player to guitar, guitarist to drummer, drummer to guitarist and vocals. Very cool and groovy band, I hope to see them play again.
Before Astral Gunk was Noise Hounds also from Sackville, as they are two of the members of Astral Gunk. This rocking duo of drums and guitar did a good job. They did not say much, but they did introduce their song ”Space Cadet” by saying ”This is our only song that matters, it is about falling in love with an alien.”
Ottawa’s one man punk explosion, ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE!, had the task of opening the day. Hung over like most of the crowd, Phil and his drum machine got the party started. He had a bunch of zombies, i mean fans, singing and dancing at 1 pm, no easy task. The sing-a-longs of ”I Miss my Best Friends” and ”Call Me Some, Looking for Some Time” were a lot of fun. He also changed the words in ”Taco Party” to ”Burrito Party” in honor of the delicious vegan goodies being sold at the back. The sweaty and always entertaining ROBOTS!EVERYWHERE! is worth checking out every chance you get Ottawa.
Something different about Saturday was that they had comedy between sets, hosted by local comedian Greg Houston. The comics tried hard but due to lack of crowd interest and sorry, but not being all that funny, where shown up by a first timer. Davey Quesnell (Pregnancy Scare/Steve Adamyk Band) mostly known for shredding on the guitar made his comedic debut. The funniest part was his excellent story about brother in law and Tim Commerford of Rage Against the Machine and now Black Sabbath. His brother’s nickname is Ozzie yet he had no idea who Black Sabbath was and simply drank beer and went golfing with Tim one time in the States. His brother still refers to the band as Black Tiger. Davey ended his stand up with some gospel for the crowd, ”The only scene that matters is the scene you are a part of.”
The dimly lit church was the perfect venue for Fresh Snow‘s experimental noise rock. With a psychedelic video screen overhead where the band was projected upon, Fresh Snow whipped the crowd in a trance. This night was full of trance inducing music, you know the kind that has you flying in the clouds, not some EDM stuff. Dressed all in white, with two members wearing red balaclavas, and the band not speaking a single word, they blasted through an incredible set. They took organized chaos to the next level, with some moments of sheer beauty when the violin and keys would team up over the boisterous jamming of the others. They reminded me a little of Explosions in the Sky.
Ottawa’s The Yips brought their dark and dancey rock to the party Friday night. Their set was jam packed with things to write about, from standing on the amps to a moshing bass player, and that is the mild stuff. During their awesome song, ”PGLM,” two members of the New Swears decided to pick up local photographer, Ming Wu, and crowd surfed him (I may have helped). If that was not enough, as they launched into a new song, ”Blood,” the lead singer stabbed plush kittens and spread the bloody felines all over the bass player and the drummer before taking a bite. With the blood all around her mouth the band launched into the gloomy ”Vicinage.” Great songs and a great performance by one of Ottawa’s finest.
I arrived at the church just in time to catch Del Bel from Toronto. This dark atmospheric rock band has a singer, a trumpet player, violinist for a few songs, guitarist, drummer and a bass player who also plays keys. They were the perfect band to set the stage for Fresh Snow. Half their set was new songs and they were excellent. As for their older songs, I really liked the live performance of ”Beltone.”
After all the bands were done, DJ Matty McGovern (Shameless/Visions) and DJ Pat Johnson (Night Moves, Silkken Laumann) took over for a Punk Rock Dance Party.
The Mandates played a great set at Vertigo Records in Ottawa June 21, while back in their home town of Calgary flood water raged through the streets
This private and intimate Friday afternoon show, for festival pass holders only, was a great start to my third day of Ottawa Explosion Weekend. There is something very special about seeing a show in a record store, the ambiance is just perfect.
The Mandates, played a mix of old and new songs at the front of the record store. I enjoyed ”Daggers Girl,” but I would have to say the highlights were the new songs ”Suspicion” and ”Have You Seen My Girl.”
Before The Mandates was Chit Chat from Detroit, Michigan. The band can really groove. Their set started with a wicked instrumental piece. My favourite songs was ”ATTITUDE,” off of their new 7”. Guitarist/Vocalist, Izzy Johnson, did not talk too much, but did say ”Canada is way cleaner than America.” Chit Chat play at 3 pm on Saturday at Club Saw, go check them out.
The only thing that might have been better than the music was the looks on people’s faces walking by and stopping to see what was going on.
No Prevenge (the scheduled headliner) no problem. Yellowteeth from Sackville, New Brunswick stepped in and played an excellent set for their second show of the day.
In the cobblestone courtyard of Mugshots, with empty beer cups hanging from a clothesline, Yellowteeth showed no sign of fatigue from playing earlier. A great energetic set where they took requests, made dedications and decided the set list on the fly. Their grungy punk rock was just what I needed at 1 am on a Thursday after a long day of concerts. They dedicated ”Santorini” to Emmanuel and they also played the very rocking ‘’Temporary Father’’ and ‘’Green Horn.’’ I also loved their cover of Ed Hall’s ‘’White House Girls.’’
Montreal Panic Attack took to the stage around 12:30 ready to roll. The pop punk trio played a really fun set. I would have to say my favourite song of the set was the emotional but loud ‘’ I Can Work It Out.’’ They closed with the excellent ‘’Who Read Holden Caulfield?’’ off their recent split with Jeffrey Lost Control.
The Decay from Guelph brought more of a skate punk style that reminded me of the music I loved so much in high school and have unfairly neglected. Thanks for the serving of some nostalgia gents. I look forward to seeing them again soon I hope.
Ottawa’s Camp Radio delivered a solid dose of pop punk and jump kicks. The three-piece played a good set highlighted by their songs ‘’Radio’’ and ‘’Reinventing the Laugh Track.’’
The other Ottawa band on the bill, Finderskeepers, was tasked with opening. I really like them, having seen them a few times now and it has always been a treat. They played my favourite song of theirs ‘Dearly Departed’’ as well as a new tune called ‘’Pack your bag’’
Well that was what I made it to on day 2. Now for Friday, where I am attending a private show at Vertigo Records, then a show headlined by Holy Cobras from Montréal and then The Yips, Most People and a Punk Rock Dance Party in a church. I LOVE THIS WEEKEND!
TV FREAKS broke through the static and kicked off Ottawa Explosion Weekend with a bang outside of Saw Galley on June 19th.
Fresh off rocking out at North by North East (NxNE) in Toronto, TV FREAKS were tight, noisy, energized and a force to be reckoned with. With members of Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs standing in the front; dancing, singing along and crowd surfing the lead singer, TV FREAKS played an explosive set. They are a great mix of garage sound with hardcore intensity, and some pretty sick dance moves. They played some great tunes like “Spilt Milk’’ and “Mall Punk.’’ TV FREAKS were the perfect band to headline the first night of Ottawa Explosion Weekend, which saw an awesome crowd show up.
Montréal’s Bummer played before TV FREAKS and the trio really impressed me. The lead singer/guitarist was rocking out with his curly hair flying all over the place. Check out their tracks “Kids on the Run’’ and “Reminder,’’ they got me moving.
The ghost Elvis or Buddy Holly must have been next door at the jail hostel and possessed, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs. These old school rock n rollers with a dash of punk twist made me want to do the twist and shout. Three mics for six people, no problem, they just shared or in the case of the drummer and bass player, they just yelled out the words from a far. I loved there set and really liked the tracks “Lose that Bitch’’ and “What Have I Become.’’ To top it all off the keyboard player’s grandparents, great aunt, aunt and uncle showed up… most punk rock people in town.
The local portion of the evening was provided by Uranium Comeback and Black Tower. Uranium Comeback were introduced as a band who has only played 12 shows ok 6 years. Their set of upbeat punk was very fun and made me want to dance and tap my toes. Songs “Walking’’ and “Out of time’’ really stuck out for me. I hope they start doing more shows. Black Tower were a female lead metal and punk trio. I really got into the intros of a few of their songs, made me miss my long hair. Also missing his long hair was the drummer who half way through the set took off his huge black hair wig to reveal his bald head. Nothing wrong with a chrome dome brother, we save a bunch of money on haircuts and shampoo.
Emmanuel Sayer, one of the organizers, capped off the night by saying, “thanks for coming out everyone… we have five more days of this and it will only get worse.’’ His laughter was met with the crowd chanting “Let’s get worse! Let’s get worse!’’ I am sure there are a ton of great performances left among the 90+ bands yet to perform.
Day one is in the books. If you missed out on the fun, don’t let it happen again. Check out the festival schedule here.
It was a Danish post-punk take over at Babylon on June 17th, with a hint of Ottawa hardcore. Yes, Babylon had a moment of clarity and put on a rock show.
Iceage were rocking so hard that both the lead singer and the guitarist broke strings on their guitars within the first few songs. This may have been a blessing in disguise for the headliners, as the energy on stage picked up once the singer decide not to play guitar for the rest of the set. The band barely said a word to the crowd other than song names and a thank you here and there. It is always interesting seeing a band from foreign lands, as they often just rock through their set and walk off with very little crowd interaction. Maybe it is due to a language barrier, maybe that is just the style across the pond? Either way it leaves more room for music, so no complaint. I really enjoyed hearing their songs ”Coalition” and ”Everything Drifts” live.
Lower, the other band from Denmark played second. I loved how the singer often started calm and the emotion in his voice and his action got more and more aggressive until he exploded at the end of songs. Having never heard them before I really dug their stuff, specifically the songs “Pictures of Passion’’ and “Someone’s Got It in for Me.”
Opening the night was Ottawa’s noisy, energetic, in your face band Pregnancy Scares. They started their show with a distorted wall of noise, and the rage never slowed down. Lead singer, Craig Proulx, looks possessed with his eyes bulging out of his head and his mic wrapped around his neck as he sings. There was not a single moment of the set without sounds blaring out of the amps, and I would not want it any other way.
This show was the last pre-Ottawa Explosion Weekend show, so the stage is now set. Starting June 19th, over 100 bands will take over 10 different venues during a six day stretch. For more info check out their site, and don’t miss out on this sick DIY festival!
Lastly, shout out to Justin the sound man for playing some old school Ottawa jams by Three Penny Opera in between bands.
Attendance was low but the rhymes were hype as several Canadian Hip-Hop artists delivered at Ritual Nigthclub on June 13.
The headliner of the night was the Halifax rap legend, Jesse Dangerously. Unfortunately not many people attended the show and the numbers dwindle as the night went on, but it did not seem to faze Jesse. He rolled through a set chalked full of songs off his new record Humble & Brilliant, including “File ID.idz” and “Halifax Rap Legend.” Jesse did a wicked tribute to De La Soul with a remake of their hit “Ego Trippin (Part II).” After getting past the half way point of his set still wearing his shirt I was worried that I might be attending the first show in which he ever kept it on… he luckily saved me from that as he took off his shirt and jumped off stage to join us in the crowd. Closing out the night Jessie grabbed Textile from Homebased Crew and they tagged team a little freestyle for us. Look out America, Jesse Dangerously is on the verge of a fifty day USA tour so keep your ears and eyes open for that.
Atherton (Ottawa) began his set apologizing for not moving around very much because he split open his pinky toe. The man showed no sign of slowing down, heck he was unstoppable that night. He opened his set by digging into the vault playing songs from 2006, “Everything” and “Another Tough Monday.” The highlights for me was the song where he sampled The Verve Pipe’s ‘“Freshmen” and when he dropped “Kid On The Corner” with no beats. He finished out saying “Vote Atherton for mayo! Jim Watson I’m coming for ya. I’ll put an LRT from side to side, Orleans to Carp.” With that type of promise, he could really have a shot.
The show’s MC was Abstract Artform from Winnipeg, Manitoba and he got his set started in the crowd. With Relic spinning for him and Ambition backing up, he laid a bunch of new track on us. The most notable moment was at the beginning of the song “Hands Up” when he had the crowd put their hand in the air and open and close them, as directed by a recording. Also loved that he brought Relic out in front with him and asked the crowd for a word to inspire some freestyling. The first freestyle was about potatoes and the second about bar stools. Both were rather impressive.
Next up was the rest of the traveling acts Ambition (Halifax) and Relic (Toronto), with Abstract Artform as their hype man. Relic started as the DJ letting Ambition take the lead. Loved his piece “Anti Gravity” and the song with the chorus “Something to feel,” had a tight first verse with a ton of great basketball references. Halfway through their time Relic stepped out from behind the turn table and dropped the grooving song “Extra Mile.” My favourite line during their time was “Not white collar but we are suitable,” so slick.
Homebased Crew were the third act of the evening. Homebased are a rifle, the smooth precise delivery of Betavel, and a machine gun, the fast and in your face rapping of Textstyle. The duo are teamed up with the sweet stylings of DJ/producer Kane B. They promised to “rap in your face right now before the real act come on.” Another one of the local acts who held their own. Really liked their songs “We Lie” and “Weekend.”
No offense to the other acts, but Alex Silas was one of my highlights of the night and my new favourite hip-hop discovery. He has a buddy guitarist on stage with him which is very freaking cool and then he topped it off by playing some harmonica on his track “Delightfully Fucked Up.” The blues and punk inspired hip-hop was a lot of fun. He had very clever lyrics in his track “Hipster girl.” Check this local act out Ottawa.
Eddie Quotez, a Filipino representing Ottawa, kicked off the night. I really like his track where he sampled Ludacris. My favourite line from his set was “like a bad doctor, I’m losing patients.” He closed out his set with a very emotional piece providing a view into his tormented past.
Big Eyes, a female lead punk rock trio from Seattle, Washington played a really fun set Wednesday night at Pressed.
Lead singer and guitarist, Kate Eldridge, can really shred and has an awesome voice to boot. From the first song, “Losing Touch” to the end of the show, the band rarely stopped for anything but a drink of water. I had never heard them before, went mostly to send off Male Nurse, but was pleasantly surprised with how much I got into their up beat rocking tunes. My favourite song was “I Don’t Care About Friday Night,” an awesome tracks about my favourite day of the week (check it out below).
Before Big Eyes, was the Male Nurse Band. Many of you know Male Nurse as Davey Quesnelle, currently a member of Pregnancy Scares and Steve Adamyk Band (old schoolers might remember him from his days in Robot Kill City and Million Dollar Marxists). Safe to say Davey has been in the Ottawa scene a long time and this was his last show as Male Nurse. After a 9 year run as a solo artist it was time to call it and focus on his two other very good bands. They opened with “Building a Boat” and played a few other songs before Davey spoke up. “Here are more songs you’ll never hear again and you probably never heard before,” he said with a big grin. He constantly thanked the crowd for coming out. The high energy set was concluded with “No One’s Happy” with the band and then “Everything’s Amazing” as Davey picked along alone on his guitar and sang the last words ever by Male Nurse, ‘“Everything’s amazing, no one’s happy.”
Tropical Dripps and their distorted noisy surf punk styling got the evening off to a start. The Ottawa trio played some great tracks and some wicked jamming instrumentals. I really enjoyed their song “Sun Dripps,” just enough dance with the right amount of loud.
This was a pre-Ottawa Explosion show, and just got me itching for the festival to start on June 19th!
Liferuiner took over Club Saw Wednesday night and tore it up.
Fresh off the release of their kick ass new album, Future Revisionists, these Toronto rockers came to throwdown. Lead singer, Jonny O’Callaghan, spent the whole set in the in front of the stage at Club Saw, who needs a stage when you have a dance floor. They played some of my favourite songs ”You Look Better When Your Drunk” and ”Straight Edge.” They also rocked some sweet new tracks, including ”Dream Catching.” Johnny took a moment to address what he considers a big problem in the current scene right now.
”There is a trend in the punk, hardcore and metal scene right now and it is apathy. People think if you don’t care for anything you can disregard everything and that its not right. We are a band that stands for the importance of is social equality.” They then played ”Fissure,” a song where they stand up for gay rights. Check out the series ”Through the Eyes of” for more insight into what the band stands for. They closed their rager of a set with the beautiful ”1990.” It was pretty freaking cool to watch the lead singer of of Being As An Ocean, Joel Quartuccio, just tear up the pit for a few songs (a super nice guy, but don’t get in this mans way in the pit).
Before Liferuiner was Being As An Ocean. This sweet hardcore band from Alpine, California had the most epic moment of the night. The second song they played ”The Hardest Part is Forgetting Those You Swore You’d Never” where 3/4 of the crowd swarmed the singer to get as close to the mic and sing along. He was great to pass the mic around to as many different people as he could. And when the song brokedown, the place went nuts with bodies flying left and right. That set the stage for a show where the mic was in a fans face almost as much as it was the lead singer’s. They put an end to their show with the ever powerful ”Dear G-d.”
The other touring band was Prophets from Hamilton, who were awesome. This hardcore band is for sure one of my new favourites. With the lead singer in the crowd and the band blasting through the set, I am certainly not their only new fan from last night. They played ”Clockwise” which has the awesome lyric ”a chance lost is a chance you never took,” and finished with ”Headrush,” where he put the mic down and screamed the chorus out loud. It was a very cool sight.
The local acts that kicked off the evening were Infiltration and Obyrne. Infiltration had great energy and a song with sweet base solo. Obyrne have great enthusiasm and just need to tighten up a little, but both bands are doing well for such a young acts. I have to give Obyrne’s lead singer props for standing up to the people in the crowd laughing at the the kid dancing to them. Good on ya man.