Last week, the Sam Roberts Band returned to the capital and played a big set at an outdoor stage on the Algonquin College campus. The Canadian rock icons were joined by up-and-comers Birds of Bellwoods, from Toronto, and The Riot Police, from here in Ottawa.
Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was on-site to catch some great shots from the night. Have a look at the gallery below.
Juno-award winning band Dear Rouge are in Ottawa supporting Lights tonight at Algonquin Commons Theatre, and it’s sure to be a fun weeknight on campus. The band released their second full-length album, Phases, last month, and are touring with Lights as a supporting act for a string of shows in 2018. After winning a Juno for breakthrough group of the year in 2016, Dear Rouge have their sights set high. I chatted with power couple Drew and Danielle McTaggart in advance of tonight’s show.
Tickets for tonight’s Ottawa show can be found here. Check out our rapid fire Q&A session below:
Rapid Fire with Dear Rouge
Q: If you had to choose any dream career outside of music, what would it be?
Drew: Vacation tester. I think my mom saw that on Oprah or something.
Danielle – Cirque de Soleil gymnast. One of the ones that does the scary tight rope.
Q: Favourite movie?
Danielle: Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Drew: That’s three movies!
Matias: Technically, it’s kind of like one really long 11-hour long movie.
Danielle: Fine, I’ll say the Two Towers then!
Q: Any hobbies that most fans wouldn’t know about?
Drew: I like bridges. I don’t know how that’s a hobby, but I like them.
Danielle: Ok, I want to change my answer then. Bald eagles.
Q: Favourite pizza toppings?
Drew: Ok, wait, then if I had to just have one topping on a pizza then I’d say cheese over pepperoni.
Q: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Drew: Star Wars.
Danielle: Star Wars, as of late. But I grew up on Star Trek. It was really hard for me when it switched. It was kind of sad, so now I like Star Wars better.
Q: Best Halloween costume growing up?
Drew: Ohhhh! Robin Hood. Because in my quiver I would be able to put all my candy.
Matias: That’s really, really smart.
Danielle: I think I was a cheerleader a couple times. Made my own pom poms.
Q: Place that you want to visit most, but haven’t yet.
Drew: South America. I’ve been to every other continent except South America and I really want to go there.
Danielle: Um, yeah. I was going to say that. But I’ll say Scotland. That would be cool.
On Thursday night, crowds escaped the damp, rainy Ottawa streets and piled into a dimly lit Bronson Centre to witness an evening of ambient, atmospheric music. Headliner Timber Timbre visited Ottawa for the fourth time in 6 years along with support from Ottawa’s own Boyhood Scattered Clouds.
Scattered Clouds took to the stage first, rising out of an ascending red fog. Performing as a 2-piece band with Jamie Kronick on drums and Philippe Charbonneau on guitar, keyboard, and vocals, this band was the most surprising act of the night. In terms of style, Scattered Clouds describe themselves as “dark, experimental, and post apocalyptic.” These characteristics could not be more fitting. Beginning their set with a heavy presence of baritone guitar and an emphasis on drums driving the synths, the band achieved a sound that could easily be equated to a modern day embodiment of a Joy Division b-side album, with an “Ian Curtis- esque” vocal tone. The second half of the set however, transitioned into an emphasis on synth and a precision in instrumentation. Creating an atmospheric 80’s dance vibe, the band achieved a type of lo-kfi sound that left the audience in a state of euphoria. Waking from this set with the harsh Bronson Centre lighting was like waking out of a heavy, romantic dream.
When the lights dimmed again, our good pals Boyhood took to the stage. Clad in flared pants and turtlenecks, Boyhood did not fail to deliver their staple moody, noisy sound. As always Caylie Runciman delivered raw and airy vocals that harmonized beautifully with her band, and provided an emotional and unpolished set completed with songs that morphed and melted into one another. Giving us a taste of what is to be expected from the upcoming album Bad Mantras, which will be the bands first album since 2012, the set featured the bands catchy “Drivin’” and “He Don’t.” Beginning with keyboard, Caylie swapped over to guitar midway through the set where she went to town in an emotional and raw guitar solo. It’s easy to get lost in a Boyhood set, and this was no exception.
Last but not least, Timber Timbre finished the night in almost total darkness, with only subtle lighting sweeping the stage. A glass of liquor sat idled on an amp to the right, Taylor Kirk began playing what seemed like it would be the entirety of his most recent work, Sincerely Future Pollution. However four songs in, the set took a detour towards an intermingling of a huge sample of his work, ranging from his self titled back in 2009 to his most recent. Detouring the set with Hot Dreams, the band’s instrumentation, and deep, sultry vocals, the song was delivered with a raw, sensual and emotional demeanour.
This specific Timber Timbre performance was unlike many others. His previous shows in Ottawa, which included a performance in Ottawa’s first Baptist Church in 2011, a set at Folk Fest in 2012, where he performed alone with a kick drum, and even his set at Jazz Fest in 2015, stuck pretty tightly to the delivery of the songs on the album. However, this set tended to use the style in the albums as backdrops for experimentation and improvisation with melody and pace during the performance, providing unequivocal authenticity. Most notable in this performance was the “Curtains?!” jam session that lengthened the song by about two extra minutes with intense instrumentation. The night ended with a 3-part encore beginning with “Grand Canyon,” that delivered an expressive and theatrical but emotive and raw finale.
This show captured a unique energy that seems to have been strengthened by the uniqueness of all the bands but also the ways in which they played off of one another. They each brought an atmospheric sound and seamless instrumentation, as well as a hard punch in the heartstrings with their raw vocals, lyrical movements, and honest and authentic delivery. The perfect ambiance to fit the creepy environment that is the Bronson Centre on a rainy evening, this show was not one to miss.
Fredericton, NB, may not be the biggest music hub in Canada, but it’s home to the noisy, mind-melting art rock group Motherhood. They’re gearing up for a string of fall shows, and the Ottawa date features a stacked lineup on November 8th at Pressed along with Winnipeg’s Tunic and locals Warp Lines (members of The Yips, Big Dick, Tropical Dripps, Million Dollar Marxists, Van Johnson).
While the distances between stops are long, Motherhood is no stranger to the road.
“The last 14 months have seen us across the country twice, and to Ontario and Quebec like 6 times (plus a heapload of NB shows),” explains multi-instrumentalist Penelope Stevens. “We recorded a full-length album, did a couple cool collaborations, and purchased a new tour vehicle. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited to take a couple months to relax (relax = finish our album, write a new album, and play locally…). We don’t like to risk touring in the winter months, but as soon as the snow melts we’ll be back at it.”
This is not Motherhood’s first time in Ottawa, as they’ve had the chance to play at Ottawa Explosion Weekend this past year and a handfull other venues in the past. They have warmed up to the city somewhat—minus a couple bumps along the way.
“Ottawa, interestingly enough, is the only city where we’ve ever had our van vandalized—twice actually!” Stevens admits. “But that hasn’t stopped us from really loving the Ottawa scene. One of our first shows was at Mugshots (RIP), and even though we didn’t really know anyone in town, a nice crew of people came out and supported us.”
“We’ve always found there to be a lot of sick bands to play with (Mushy Gushy, The Yips, Pippa, and more) and the venues are cool. House of Targ was always #1 on my bucket list of venues to play in Canada, and last year my dreams came true! It was as cool as I wanted it to be. The folks in Ottawa Explosion, Debaser, and booking Pressed are good folks, and we really admire the work people put into their scene. Ottawa seems a lot like Fredericton, close knit and supportive, and decidedly “other.”
2017 has shaped up to be a big year for Motherhood, with the band getting into festivals such as Sled Island, CMW, Ottawa Explosion, and Lawnya Vawnya. Even more, they’ve been exporting their irresistibly fuzzy, dissonant sound to small stages across the country. The band members are enjoying their road-heavy schedule.
“A lot of New Brunswickers move on to larger cities, so we get to catch up with some of our closest friends on the road. We bring gifts from folks at home and get to bring news about how everyone’s doing. We’re glorified carrier pigeons. Plus, we usually bring a road pal with us, and they keep things fresh. This time we have our bud Noah, who’s never been on tour before. His excitement will keep the posi vibes alive on the long drives!”
Their tracks “Guano” and “Yarn-Barred” were featured on the Greville Tapes Music Club, vol. 1, and their cover of Construction & Destruction’s song “The Oracle” appeared on volume 2 of the Pentagon Black compilation. With two LPs, an EP, and a split under their belts, Motherhood is on the verge of entering the studio once again to record another full-length for release in winter 2017-18.
“We write collaboratively in our studio, so the music comes from pretty much anywhere,” says Stevens. “Sometimes Brydon will bring in some lyrics or one of us will have a riff, but a lot of it is just hammered out through long jams, then we chop it up and forget 95% of it. The stuff that sticks is the stuff worth keeping. We’re composers, yes, but I think our talents actually lie in our editing. We don’t have any particular goals when writing, we just set a timeline—we’ll write for 3-6 months, then record when the time runs out. I guess it’s pretty weird, but it works for us!”
Be sure to catch Motherhood along with Winnipeg’s Tunic and Ottawa’s Warp Lines at Pressed on Wednesday, November 8th. $10 at the door, 8 pm. All ages, licensed 19+ show.
This year’s edition of Arboretum Festival was something special. Each year the organizers find new ways to captivate audiences and provide the ultimate community-oriented experience. Whether on Albert Island surrounded by the humbling rapids of the Ottawa River, or bringing Sloan and their ravenous following under one tent, Arboretum Festival has given us music fans some memorable moments over the years.
The organizers tried something completely different this year, and it was unlike any other festival most of us had ever been to before. First of all, the location moved once again. The wonderful people at Rideau Pines Farm welcomed the idea of hosting Arboretum on-site with open arms and were tremendously accommodating. Just twenty minutes outside of Ottawa in North Gower, ON, Rideau Pines Farm proved to be a near-perfect choice as a site.
While Ottawa prides itself on being a hub for music festivals of all kinds—large or small—one might get the sense that there are too many festivals trying to do the same thing. Well, that wasn’t the case with Arboretum Festival,
Art installations, neat lighting, and multiple stages in interesting locations made country folks out of us city dwellers for a couple nights. Although the Pond Stage got washed out with mud, the Bang Bang Barn (yes, in an actual barn) and Forest Stages filled that void nicely. There were even a few secret shows by Her Harbour and Toronto’s Giant Hand in the hang out area behind the food truck, both of which were intimate and set appropriately under the shade of umbrellas and trees for all to experience. People picked fruits and veggies, stoked their campfires, and soaked in the breathtaking sunset on the horizon over the fields.
They also scaled back the lineup and food options. Having a single food truck with rotating vendors kept things simple, and on Saturday night I had the opportunity to gorge myself with a Pork & Octopus hot dog from two six ate and two portions of delicious perogies from House of TARG. I’m a big guy, ok? Oh yeah, and the farm’s corn was the best I’ve had in years. While the food was top notch, one improvement would be for them to have more food options or at least one more truck. Many of us got caught watching TOPS and Deerhoof in line waiting (albeit with a great view) as the prep couldn’t quite keep up with demand. Props to the workers for handling the pressure well, it was worth the wait.
Beyond The Pale was the local beer sponsor, and I couldn’t get enough of the Pink Fuzz. While beer prices were a little higher than years passed ($7/$8 for a tall can), those who enjoy delicious cold craft beer certainly get what they pay for. It might have been nice to have a few options that weren’t as hoppy for those who enjoy a lighter ale, but most people seemed to keep coming back for more.
The lineup featured some incredible musicians, too. A transcendental and unforgettable performance by NYC’s Le1f was a highlight of the entire weekend. Toronto’s Yamantaka//Sonic Titan cranked up the energy and dawned on the stage with typical face paint, electrifying audience members for the entire set. Cedric Noel and Gianna Lauren were backed by some members of Pony Girl at the Forest Stage, and blew minds as folks arrived off the shuttle buses. Boyhood took the barn by storm by playing a rare and powerful set which included new songs never before heard. Deerhoof lived up to their legend, playing a jaw-dropping headlining set which featured incendiary guitar parts and complex arrangements across the board. These are just some of the sets that stood out—each brought something exceptional to the experience as a whole.
All in all, this was the Arboretum which organizers had envisioned from the start, and that fans had been craving. This quaint, yet exciting gathering of individuals felt good, really good. Let’s do it again.
Check out our photographer Els Durnford’s gallery from both nights below.
Arriving to line-ups that wrapped around the hallways outside of the Algonquin Commons Theatre was a sure sign that it was going to be a Friday fans would remember. The lobby was buzzing with the VIP ONE OK ROCK fans who had just had a meet and greet with the band, and the crowd ran through open doors to get the best standing room spots. The first band up was New Jersey-based band Palisades who brought high energy to keep the already buzzing crowd in high anticipation. Set It Off was the second band, showing the crowd exactly how they got their name through jumps and crowd interaction. They held their intensity throughout, continuing the build up for the eagerly awaited headliners.
When ONE OK ROCK hit the stage the energy peaked as the crowds sang along to their catchy songs. In Japan, these guys sell out massive venues, and their music videos get tens of millions of views on YouTube. The fervour of the crowd was met with passionate stage presence, including high jumps and hair flips from the band. Needless to say, they made a lasting impression on everyone in the room.
For an Ottawa band that has only been around for the better part of two years, PINE has already experienced some major success. Not only has the band toured extensively in the US and Canada, in March of this year the band also announced that they were being signed to No Sleep Records. No Sleep is an independent label based out of Huntington Beach, California, known for having harboured such acts as Balance and Composure, La Dispute, The Wonder Years, Touché Amoré, and many more. Needless to say, being signed to a label such as No Sleep Records is a tremendous feat for a young band from the humble capital of Canada.
PINE is on the verge of releasing their first EP through No Sleep Records, an emotional five-track effort that spans genres and bring the listener into a world free of sonic boundaries. Their songs “Viable” and “(Un)rest,” which can be steamed below, are raw and untethered pieces that use intricate instrumentation and emotive lyricism to create a powerful experience for listeners. I caught up with guitarist Holden Egan to talk about PINE’s new direction and their new album Pillow Talk.
PINE will be releasing their EP Pillow Talk at House of TARG on Saturday, June 10 along with guests Safe To Say, Heavy Hearts, and Kamen. The physical album will be available in limited edition pink vinyl. Advanced tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Vertigo Records. Doors at 9pm. Presented by Spectrasonic.
Interview with Holden Egan of PINE
The band announced the signing to No Sleep Records a few months back. How does it feel to be part of that family?
It feels awesome. Ever since I knew of No Sleep Records, Topshelf Records, and Run For Cover Records, and the bands associated with them, I’ve always wanted to be on one of those labels. It feels really good to be at this stage.
The single “Viable” is an emotionally jolting song that grabs listeners right away. Can you talk about how that track came to be?
It’s a funny story with that song! Our drummer Joey had written a song a few years before he was in the band, and when him and I moved in together we started pre-production on a few songs and he pulled that one out. I thought, “Woah, that actually works pretty well with some riffs I have.” So I worked on it, dissected it, and spun it backwards, added some riffs and jammed on it a few times. We recorded it in my bedroom and ultimately we had to leave that place because our roommate at the time didn’t want us to do music anymore. We toured with that song when we did our split with Dead Leaves, and we had a different lineup then so the song sounded a lot different, too.
So when we went to record it for this EP, Cory Bergeron (who mixed and mastered it) had a few great ideas on how to spice it up and bring it to the next level for this album. He made it a drum and bass intro and it kicked in with everything.
Having heard that song, what can listeners expect when diving into Pillow Talk as a whole? Are there some themes that resonate throughout?
The theme revolves around the struggles being in relationships when you’re younger. Cory and Darlene are both in touring bands, and the song “(Un)rest” is a song about dealing with being in a relationship and alone, away from your loved ones. It’s hard, especially when touring in the US where texting is expensive.
Your sound obviously has some roots in emo and post-rock of the 2000’s. In your mind, what attracts you to making music like this?
I think it has to do with our appreciation for soundscapes and production. When we’re touring, we’re always sitting and dissecting songs together and talk about why they’re good. We try and write music that takes little aspects like that and translate it in our own way the way we like. For example, I like a lot of post-rock and shoegaze. But our guitar player listens to a lot of singer-songwriter and progressive stuff. Our drummer listens to Mac DeMarco and the Chili Peppers, and Darlene listens to bands like Lydia and Sufjan Stevens. There’s a lot of diversity in the EP’s tracks. We’re not confined to just one sound, we incorporate different things into each song. We even have an acoustic song at the end, because we all like acoustic tracks with piano, cello and additional instrumentation. We all get off on that stuff.
If there were one band you could share the stage with, who would it be?
Slowdive, hands down. I would love to play with them. I’d probably cry if I found out that was a possibility.
PINE has toured quite a bit over the last few years. Is there some place that is on your dream list to visit?
This has always been a dream for me since I was like 15. Brixton Academy in London, England, is a venue I would love to play. I mean it’s kind of unrealistic at this point because it’s like a 5000 cap venue, but it’s a dream. But I’d love to play there. A place that’s a little more realistic to play is probably Manhattan. I’ve visited there a few times and I love New York City. I’d love to bring our music there and be able to say we played there, it’s on the bucket list for sure.
What can new listeners who attend the EP release at House of Targ on June 10 expect from PINE’s live performance?
I hope that they get the feel of the soundscapes we’re aiming for live. When we go to shows, we’re always paying attention to the tones. We’re all gear nerds and own lots of pedals. We’re really going for a wall of sound, and we’re not trying to make you happy but we’re also not trying to bum you out either. It’s moody, we want people to stand there and get lost in the music. It’s sort of like cinematic experiences. Slowdive uses their music to capture a cinematic moment or mood, and I guess it’s kind of emo in that way since we’re trying make you feel stuff. I’ve been in a hardcore band before and there’s a lot of aggression at shows. But I feel like our music is a bit different. We’re trying to make people feel something, and feeling soothing in some way.
May is always a nice time of year. The tulips start popping out, the trees start getting greener, and it becomes normal to slab some poutine onto your pizza slice. That’s right, May is POUZZA FEST month. In 2015 we took over Montreal and followed some Ottawa bands in a very, very DIY film called Ottawa Invades POUZZA FEST: A Documentary. If you were to watch that, you’d get just a glimpse of how POUZZA usually goes down.
This year, we couldn’t all make it to Montreal, but our photographer-extraordinaire Els Durnford did. Here’s a look at some of the incredible photos she took while diving into all the madness. Enjoy!
Less than a minute into Tunic‘s song “Disappointment” is all it took to get excited about this Winnipeg-born-and-bred noisy punk trio. This June, the band will be leaving beautiful Manitoba for a 2-week tour that will take them to the United States and across central Canada, including their first Ottawa show on June 6 at Pressed.
Their Ottawa date will also feature two of Ottawa’s most stoke-worthy bands: post-hardcore veterans The Dark Plains with Matt Deline (aka Ottawa’s Ian MacKaye) on vocals and bass, Andy Cant (from Okara!!!) on drums, and Chuck Saso (who must eat Shreddies for breakfast because.. well.. he absolutely shreds) on guitar, as well as Ultra Love who have just recently sprung out of the incubator, or maybe a time machine, bringing back a post-hardcore sound with a healthy (and unapologetic) dose of 90’s screamo influences. Needless to say, you will not want to miss this show, and in the meantime, you can get to know Tunic a bit better as guitarist/vocalist David Schellenberg answers a few questions for us. Have a read below.
Interview with David Schellenberg of Tunic
Ok, so first things first – who is Tunic and can you give me a short history of how the band came to be?
DS: Tunic is David Schellenberg, Rory Ellis, and Sam Neal. Tunic was started by Sam and I as a way for us to hang out, experiment and for me to try my hand at playing guitar in a band. Rory was my roommate at the time so he started playing bass after a couple jams. This was around 2012, I’m pretty sure.
How would you describe your sound?
DS: Abrasive, angular, noisy punk music.
Are you all originally from Winnipeg and what is the scene like in Winnipeg these days?
DS: We are. Winnipeg is a unique city with a lot of cool bands and artists. Since we’re extremely isolated by our geographical location we all have to put in a lot of work to get shows to happen and for there to be things to do, so Winnipeg is pretty cool, a lot of people work hard to make sure it doesn’t suck.
What are some of the pros/cons of being a band in Winnipeg?
DS: The only con is our location. Pros a lot of great local bands to do shows with.
Will this be your first time playing Ottawa? If so, what have you heard about the Ottawa scene?
DS: This will be our first time playing in Ottawa. I’ve heard some nice things from our pals who’ve played there before, they say it’s a lot of fun, so that’s exciting.
Sometimes it does feel like Ottawa and Winnipeg are worlds apart even though we’re provincial neighbours. Not to mention that there are probably a lot of great local bands from our respective cities that neither of us will ever hear. Have you all played in other bands in the past?
DS: We’ve all played in a lot of bands, too many bands really. Rory and I played in a bunch of indie bands we don’t need to talk about, and Sam played in a bunch of cool black metal and d-beat bands like Willing Feet and Noose that were super sick.
Help us get to know you a little better: outside of music, what other interests, hobbies or projects are taking up your time?
DS: We mostly work our jobs so we can do this band and other music related things. Sam does graphic design, Rory works in a school and I work at a bar.
Finally, what are you listening to these days?
DS: I can’t speak for Rory or Sam, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Spray Paint, The Coneheads, Wings, and Cocteau Twins.
Don’t miss tunic at Pressed on June 6 alongside The Dark Plains and Ultra Love, event here. For out-of-towners and roadtrippers, here are Tunic’s tour dates:
Tunic Tour Dates
May 31 – Reverie, Minneapolis MN
June 1 – The Burlington, Chicago IL
June 3 – Foam Doam, London ON
June 4 – This Ain’t Hollywood, Hamilton ON
June 6 – Pressed, Ottawa ON
June 7 – Smiling Buddha, Toronto ON
June 8 – Turbo Haus, Montreal QC
June 9 – Poisson Noir, Montreal QC
Not only was the 12th of May an insane night due to how amazing the show at the Bronson Centre Theatre was, but it was insane for many reasons. As a short preview, I’ll give a list – dead batteries, between-act adventures, and battery compartment latches malfunctioning. Does that sound eventful yet? Most likely.
The first act to come on was Everett Bird. The dynamic that the band possessed was very unique in comparison to other bands that I’ve seen, and although I had completely blown my hearing, I could tell there was something this band possessed that few do. The band takes scales and plays with them with precision. Everett brought his scales from the highest notes he could use down to middle tones, all while being in harmony with what the others were playing. It was such a strange dynamic but it melded together very smoothly. He even produced noises from the guitar that don’t sound like they would come out of such an instrument.
They took these delicate and high notes and combined them into a gritty song filled with power chords, but they also take an approach to their music that sounds a bit like psychedelic and progressive rock. It’s very easy to get lost in and just let the music sway you. The lyrics take you into a different world completely. They produce vivid imagery through each song and through their lyrics, telling a story through each song. This was not limited to just vocals but it was through every note played. Though they didn’t move around very much, they seemed to take a different approach to getting the crowd lost in their music.
Unfortunately, this was the band I did not manage to get any photographs of. This is the first reason my night got thrown into absolute chaos. The batteries for my camera where dead, or so it appeared. It wouldn’t turn on, and I was unable to do anything with it. So as soon as Everett Bird got off stage, I had asked my friend to google the nearest corner store, which was on Albert Street, and while we booked it for the Quickie, one of my very close and dear friends held our spot in case we didn’t make it back in time. The walk was a six minute walk and I had determination that nobody could get in the way of. As soon as we got to the Quickie, we paced around, trying to scope out any batteries, and we noticed them behind the counter. The man charged me a good $10.16 for four AA batteries, and as soon as everything was paid for, we bolted out of the store. We had a brisk walk back, and it was as if everything was in our favour. All the lights turned to the little walking pedestrian as we approached them and we got back just as PS. I Love You had started.
PS I Love You is a group from Kingston that initially started out as a one-man-band, however Paul Saulnier realized that he needed more than just himself to partake in the band, and so Benjamin Nelson joined. The two really lose themselves in the music they create, and the sense of the sound wrapping around you slowly takes over. They really set the mood and atmosphere around them and they know how to control every aspect of it. Not only this, but the two are incredibly talented. Paul had at one point taken his guitar behind his head and shred the most amazing solo which only indicates how much raw talent these individuals possess.
Because it’s just the two of them, they have a very harmonious way of working together. It seems like the harmony goes deeper than just the music, which only helps them in their live performances. Their light and airy sound is drenched in reverb, and soaked in the sound produced by the organ pedal used for the guitar. The sound produced was very heavy yet interesting. I’d never heard anything like it before. It was entirely new to me and if I’m honest, it’s the first I’ve heard of such a pedal existing. The vocals were unconventional in the sense that they’re not perfect or smooth. They’re their own and fit into the very strange assortment of harmonies and melodies that were put together.
Unfortunately, halfway through their set, my camera stopped working once again. For the life of me I could not figure out what was going on until I took a closer look at the battery compartment. For my camera, it was located at the bottom, which meant a lot of force had to go into closing it. I had flipped it over and opened the compartment and as I had done so, I realized the small sliver of black plastic that held it shut had broken off and the little compartment could no longer be closed properly. At this point, I had had enough. I had come to the show to have a good time, and to get some amazing photographs and I was determined not to leave without them.
“But your camera is half broken,” you may say. Technically yes, but literally nothing was going to stop me from shooting this show. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ve been looking forward to this for far too long. In the moment, I looked over at what tools I had (which wasn’t much) and decided on my solution. I quickly wrapped the camera strap around the camera itself, making sure to pull it tight across the bottom. I looped it twice and then looped what remained around my right hand then placed my pinkie right where the battery compartment was and ensured it stayed shut. This wasn’t only difficult to do, but it was painful as well. This is how I managed to shoot the rest of the show.
Ottawa natives Hollerado came on after a quick little sound check from their crew and jumped right into what they do best. The stage went dark right before they emerged and the UV lights lit up the stage and displayed all the graphics that were painted on either large sheets, guitar cases, boxes, or the likes. Dean’s bass resonated clearly throughout the theatre and it could have been because I was very close by, but Hollerado has always been a band that has shown appreciation for a good bass line time and time again. Even the drumming that Jake presents to us is unlike anyone else’s drumming. In its own ways it’s simple enough to learn if you worked on it, however he plays with such energy and passion that I don’t think many could match even if they put their hearts into it. Although I have said that the drumming is simple enough to learn if you really sat down and tried, it’s also not as simple as it looks or sounds. It’s very precise when it comes down when each beat is hit, and it relies on rudiments. The way he even controls how loud or soft the sound gets takes practice and it’s something that most people don’t take into account.
Menno’s vocals are very rock and punk-based, especially with the new album. Of course, there is the backing vocals of Dean, Nixon, and Jake that add that slightly more indie-rock feel, which go back to the roots of the band. I particularly admired Nixon’s playing, especially how quickly he got back on his feet from his injury. The thing about the way he plays, he almost becomes one with his instrument. He knows it as if it’s the back of his hand and that only adds to how talented he is when it gets down to it. He loses himself in the music and he’s so in harmony with the songs, the instrument, and the setting that his performance falls nothing short of amazing. Although Menno isn’t one to rip out these intricate solos he really puts a spotlight on his guitar work, tearing away at power chords like in “Juliette” and “Eloise.” He’ll even create harmonies with Nixon’s playing to give a new depth to the songs that Hollerado plays.
They opened with a song from their new album, Born Yesterday. This really brought a kick to the show, and although most bands do open with tracks from their most recent release, you could tell each member was fully invested in this. In the moment, they were all there mentally, and physically. This album seemed to take a much more serious tone that the previous two, however due to the incredibly upbeat nature of the songs, you could get down to them very easily. Each riff holds a very intricate sound to it, different from the rest. Even when they slowed it down, the songs still had a very powerful sound to them, heavy on the bass and guitars. They even seemed to explore a little bit with their sound, extending to some more bluesy sounds.
During their performances, as unconventional as they are, Menno brought out cookies at one point, treating the crowd to a little snack. Not only does he get personal with the crowd, but with his friends with whom he shares the stage. He shares his microphone with Nixon from time to time, and they each invade each other’s personal space. Nixon would get up on Jake’s kick drum and jump off, Dean would get right beside Menno, and Menno and Nixon would take turns in each other’s space. Their performances are incredibly intimate no matter how big a show they play. They take this lack of personal space and apply it to the crowd as well. At one point Menno had shoved the microphone in my face and got me to sing along (I was later informed that I sang on key which rarely happens).
They did not disappoint when it came to the performance they put on, and even allowed a member of the crowd to play part of a song with them, asking who could play the guitar. They invited a man up and you could clearly tell he was so happy about the moment and you could tell the band really wanted him to feel like he belonged. Even in the moment where a drunk woman ran up on stage and slapped Menno’s ass, they weren’t angry, they just went with it and laughed it off. They even got an older gentleman (perhaps a family member?) to play a few songs with them.
There was one point where they began to play my favourite song off the new record, Eloise (which they weren’t even sure about adding to the record a year ago until my friend’s sister told them that they need to add it), and a man ran up on stage and told them to stop the show. He needed 9-1-1 called due to a woman passing out, and every member of Hollerado dropped their instruments and ran over to help in any way that they could. When they got back, they informed us that everything was okay, and she woke up and told them she passed out and that she was okay. They picked back up only after making sure that everyone was okay.
This album really brought a depth to the band that had come through before but never with such intensity. With songs about politics, love, and family, they really secured their legitimacy with this record, although they could probably write a song about a sock and everyone would love it just the same. They find a way to take small things and make them fun, or serious. They even have a song about a turtle (go listen to “Lonesome George”).
Hollerado, as a band, is very good at taking unconventional approached to rock, punk, and indie music, including staccato guitar intros, and tremolo picking solos. Much like bands they’re friends with, or have been associated with, they bring such a unique energy that only they would be able to bring to a room. It’s indescribable. It’s terrible to be one to say “man, you’ve just had to be there,” but it’s true! This is the only show I’ve been to where they haven’t fired off glitter and confetti and completely wrecked the venue with those small pieces of paper. Had they actually done that, you probably would have been finding it in weird places for days (this happens, trust me).
They guys themselves are incredibly kind people and all it takes is a conversation to get them talking. They actually even remembered my two friends and I from previous shows that we’ve frequented and asked about how we were doing and how our lives were going. Each member pays attention to you when you’re in conversation and really value your word. And lemons.
This band is one you need to see live before you die and even if you have to call in sick to work, or jump several fences to get there, please do because you will not regret it at all. You’ll probably just have too much fun and never want to go back to your regular life ever again. Also, please bring them Sharpies (or don’t it’s up to you) because they seem to be lacking some. And if you borrow their Sharpie, return it to Dean. It’s probably his.