Arboretum Festival: Ought, Fresh Snow, Blue Angel and Freelove Fenner @ House of TARG
Photo by Jeff Watkins
From a church at the last show to a pinball and pierogi-filled punk basement venue, Arboretum brought the weird with Ought and more at House of TARG.
Montréal’s Ought channelled the ghosts of 80s New Wave and post-punk past to deliver a great set Thursday night. The four-piece sounded great and were thrilled to be there, constantly mentioning how awesome the bill was. Sometimes sounding like bands of the Gang of Four variety (and I say that as a compliment) Ought had my head bobbing along all show. The songs that really stuck were “The Weather Song,” which really had me travelling back decades to the New Wave era, “More Than Any Other Day,” which the singer talks more than he sings and it completely captivated me, and lastly “Habit” with the grabbing lyrics and vocals that reminded me of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Glad I stuck around late to check these guys out, they did not hit the stage until around 1 a.m.
Fresh Snow delivering a “soundgasm” at House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
Blowing us all away before Ought was the soundgasm that is Fresh Snow. From Toronto, the organized auditory chaos that this four-piece creates is incredible. There is no singer, but don’t think this is your grand-mother’s instrumental music. From twisting pedal knobs with a stir of just the right madness to slamming guitar strings with a closed fist as the momentum of the song mounts, Fresh Snow transported us to another musical state. The set had my ears constantly asking for more, even in the distorted craze of their finale. As they walked off stage they left their guitars on, with one hanging on an amp, strings facing in on the amp and the other guitar and bass face down on the pedals, just to keep our ears ringing. Their performance last year at Ottawa Explosion was one of the shows of the year and they certainly did not disappoint this time around.
Blue Angel haunting the crowd at House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
The girls from Blue Angel took the stage in black cult-like robes and masks that reminded of geisha, but with a single tear on each. It was really trippy to watch the set without seeing their lips move, especially on the “You Me,” where each member sings or screams at some point of the song. There is something very unsettling of hearing a sound but not really seeing the source. They played a set that featured older songs, such as one of my favourites “Don’t Want Need To” and a bunch of new tracks I had never heard. I am really impressed with how far this band has come from the wall of noise and yells I first saw at Babylon earlier this year. They sounded great, a lot crisper and really had me hooked. And in random news, they exited the stage to the sound of bagpipes.
Freelove Fenner playing House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
Getting the night going was Freelove Fenner. The three-piece was the lightest of the bands on the bill, but that is not to say they did not fit in. They had just the right amount of weird and cool guitar. The sound emanating from the guitar on “Mary” was one that tickled my ears just right. Another track that really had me going was “Vicky,” also a girl’s name, maybe a pattern is forming here. Lead singer and bassist, Caitlin Loney, commented on the hot sweaty atmosphere that is TARG. “C’est chaud ici. My hair is getting all puffy, how do you guys keep it straight?” I recommend losing most of it…
Another great night at Arboretum which set the stage for a ruckus weekend!
Steve Adamyk Band Dial Tone album release party w/ Blue Angel + Tropical Dripps @ House of Targ
Saturday night was another home run at House of Targ, the new music venue/arcade/pierogi house that seems to know how to make their patrons happy. The occasion was another album release by another kickass local group, the Steve Adamyk Band. Having just finished recording the new album in February 2014 and coming off a Japanese tour a few months back, SAB have been busy surrounding the release of Dial Tone – their fourth full-length album in five years. With Ian Manhire (White Wires/Voicemail/ex-Sedatives) spinning vinyl before, between, and after the bands, the tone of the night was set.
Lidija of Blue Angel
The night kicked off with Blue Angel, a local mash-up of members from some pretty rad bands in town. Lidija Rozitis (Roberta Bondar), Sam Pippa (Organ Eyes), and Caylie Runciman (Boyhood) combined their powers to give all of us at Targ a hell of a show. They were an unexpected addition to the lineup, only because their style is pretty far off from both Tropical Dripps and SAB. There are a lot of other bands in town that could have easily been put on this bill by virtue of their genre or similarities in sound. But who gives a shit about genres? Blue Angel weirded up the place with their shiny masks and brooding stage presence, and quickly enchanted us all.
Starting their set with their most intense and visceral song “YOU ME”, Blue Angel charged their way through a brief but powerful set. A few new songs were played too, such as “Rat Tail,” which sounded great and also happens to be about rat tails (posterior rodent appendage/a very popular hair style in the early 1990s). This was the best set I have seen from Blue Angel so far, and the sound was right on. Lidija’s haunting and droney guitar, Sam’s fuzzy and groove-laden bass lines, and Caylie’s thunderous drums were all aspects of the performance that will garner them a lot more fans in the future. Don’t miss this band when they play Targ again with OUGHT, Fresh Snow, and Freelove Fenner during Arboretum Music Festival on August 21.
Tropical Dripps playing at House of Targ
Tropical Dripps (Bruised Tongue) were up next, and these boys delivered us all a dose of their animalistic tendencies. Dripps have a distinctive surf/garage punk sound that is the kind of thing Ottawa is becoming more and more known for. More than anything, their primary objective seems to be having the most fun possible. I’ve seen them a few times at basement shows and Ottawa Explosion, but being right up close to them at Targ definitely made me appreciate how good this band really is. Lead singer and guitarist Mikey took advantage of his time on stage to show off his skills, guiding us through the set riff after scuzzy riff. With Dripps, metronomic accuracy is not a concern, nor should it be. They fuck up on stage from time to time – it’s endearing to see a band get so into their music that they get ahead of themselves and then have to bring themselves back down to earth. Kieran’s usual hawaiian shirt/sunglasses combo never gets old, and his drumming is relentless. Bassist Kurt Rafuse, who is also in another Bruised Tongue band, The Yips, was a maniac on stage – long hair flying everywhere, body lying on the ground, screaming his lungs out, all while playing his bass like it’s part of his body. Good music doesn’t have to be technically perfect. It has to evoke emotion from those who listen, and judging by the behaviour of people in the mosh pit during Dripps’s set, I’d say the jury is out: they are pretty damn good. Don’t miss Tropical Dripps when they play Mavericks with Frog Eyes and P.S. I Love You at Arboretum Music Festival on August 20.
Steve Adamyk Band headlining the night at House of Targ
Steve Adamyk Band (Dirtnap Recs) finished off the night with a flurry of quick but robust punk rock tunes. The great thing about having relatively short songs is that SAB was able to reach into their repertoire and play a few great songs from past records, many of which were off Third such as “Nightmare” and “Katacombs,” as well as several classics off their 2010 s/t release such as “Better Off,” “Not For Long,” and “I Fought for the U.S.A.” Each song from the past had us singing along because they are all really frigging good, that’s why we all fell in love with this band in the first place.
I was lucky enough to pre-order SAB’s gold vinyl of Dial Tone, their new record released in July. Not knowing what to expect, I carefully placed the needle on the wax and let it all sink in. For all of those who haven’t heard Dial Tone yet, don’t expect to hear the catchy hooks off Third re-hashed all over again. For how good Third is (and I REALLY love Third), SAB has delivered a fuller, more complete album with the same grit as the others. The verses are more defined, the songs are thematically varied, as if the band has taken a small step outside the box to create something totally new. Dial Tone is straight up garage rock, with a noticeable easing up on the drums from Dave Forcier and the guitar from Steve and Davey less overdriven. The guitar tones on the album are noticeably more clear, although Adamyk kept the crunchy sound that we all know and love. They played some of the best songs on the album such as “Force Fed,” “Careless,” “Suicide,” and “Empty Cause.” We got to hear some new and old, and all of it together made the set one to remember. Beer and spit were being sprayed everywhere while they was playing, and a few of Adamyk’s buddies were up front helping to sing each word into the mic. I love this band because their music always speaks for itself – no matter where you see them play or what SAB record you put on, you’ll always listen and never be disappointed. Catch SA B before Constantines and Chad VanGaalen on the main state at Arboretum Music Festival on August 23rd.
Arboretum Festival: First Line-Up Annoucement
Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), Constantines (on their reunion tour) and Chad VanGaalen are just some of the most excellent bands that will be gracing Ottawa in late August during the third edition of the Arboretum Festival.
The Arboretum Festival, Ottawa’s new music and cultural showcase has done it again. They assembled another great line-up full of some of my favourite local bands (Steve Adamyk, The Yips, New Swears, Pony Girl…) and great out of town talent. What is most exciting, is that this is only the first round of announcements.
The festival takes place outdoors August 18 to 23 on the historic grounds of downtown Ottawa’s Arts Court. But the ever growing festival is also expanding region-wide to include programming in over a dozen venues, clubs and restaurants around Ottawa-Gatineau.
Take a look below and have a listen to all the wonderful talent coming to the Arboretum Festival this year.
Ottawa Explosion Weekend Announces More Bands: Ton of Local Acts
One of the greatest weekends in Ottawa just got even better! Ottawa Explosion Weekend (June 12-15) just announced another round of bands coming to rock the capital, and many of them won’t have to travel to0 far.
Weekend Music Roundup: March 21-23
For full event listings, click here.
Friday, March 21
New Music: Ottawa’s Supergroup Blue Angel Release EP
It is finally here! I have seen them live three times now and am very excited to see Blue Angel now have some recorded material. Blue Angel are Bruised Tongue‘s all female all-star band that consists of Roberta Bondar’s Lidija Rozitis, Organ Eyes’s Sam Pippa, and Caylie Runciman of Boyhood. We’re big fans of all three of these ladies’ main projects, but this collaboration is something special. The three song self-titled EP is raw, rocking, grungy, grimy and noisey, while still delivering powerful vocals from all three members.
There’s something about screaming on a lo-fi recording that just does the trick. These girls do what they want, how they want it – and don’t look back. Keep an eye out for Blue Angel inciting absolute mayhem in venues all around town.
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Bruised Tongue 5 Year Anniversary: Crosss, Tropical Dripps and Blue Angel
Crosss killing it at Gabba Hey! in Ottawa.
After a night of partying on Saturday, Bruised Tongue was at it again putting on a great matinee show.
With three S’s, Crosss (pronounced ‘crosses’) channelled all the energy from the bands before them and put on quite a show. The band with members from Halifax and Toronto tore it up at Gabba Hey! I really dug their sound and hope they can return soon to play to a healthier, less hungover crowd.
Tropical Dripps rocking out at Gabba Hey! in Ottawa.
Ottawa’s Tropical Dripps had a lot to be happy about on Sunday. Not only were they part of a pretty sweet bill, they released their new tape, Cool Dude. They gave the crowd a good taste of the tape as they really displayed the progress they have made in their sound. The band, who I had previously described as surf rock, have definitely evolved and added a lot of depth.
Opening the shows was Bruised Tongues all female all-star band, Blue Angel. This was the second time I saw Blue Angel, who consists of Roberta Bondar’s Lidija Rozitis, Organ Eyes’s Sam Pippa, and Caylie Runciman of Boyhood. They are quickly becoming one of the must sees of the Ottawa music scene right now, just the right dose of weird, rock and excitement.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, The Yips and Blue Agnel @ Babylon
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan putting on a show a Babylon.
You don’t just listen to Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, you are immersed in the theatrics and the epicness of the show.
I had no idea what to expect when I decided to attend the Yamantaka // Sonic Titan show. Needless to say I was blown away. The mind boggling began early on, with the cardboard cartoons on stage, band members sporting painted faces, and the epic entry of the vocalist escorted through the crowd by someone carrying an ancient Chinese style war banner as another band member crashes cymbals together. Some songs you would almost think the soft vocals of Bjork had teamed up with a prog band, while the next song has hardcore distorted riffs, double pedal thrash drumming and yelling. The hundreds of people in attendance at Babylon were in the same trance I was, mesmerized by what we were witnessing.
My favourite songs live were ”Whalesong,” which starts soft and grows into a mesmerizing finish where they sings, “They rise/ Into battle with the tide.” The other track that really blew me away was the bone-chrushingly heavy song where they sing ”Yama looking back at me” which was awesome and induced a mosh pit.
The Yips just killing it as always.
Ottawa’s gloomy and ghostly dance rockers The Yips hit the stage before Yamantaka. With the smoke machine in full effect they played a set full of new songs. The new stuff sounds excellent, especially the unreleased song, listed as “Sub” on their set list. Their upcoming album is definitely my most anticipated upcoming local release. It was very cool to see lead singer, Kerri Carisse, dawn a guitar for a song. But shackling her with an instrument limits her stage presence and energy. The tune sounded good but I prefer when she is set free. Even though almost the entire set was new tracks, they did find time to play one of my favourites, “Blood Meridian,” which is always awesome live.
Blue Angel opening the night at Babylon.
Getting the night started was Blue Angel. The Ottawa psych/punk band, is formed of members of Boyhood, Organ Eyes and Roberta Bondar. They wore matching masks, matching sequin dresses and rocked with a ton of distortion. I loved the guitar riffs on one of their last songs, something about “I don’t need you, I don’t want you.” This was the first I ever heard of this band but I am really looking forward to seeing them more, I really like their potential. I’d also like to know why the drummer shrieked and moaned between songs, it worked, I am just curious.