There were countless options for live music Friday night thanks to JUNOfest, and I chose to rock out with New Swears, NO BRO and Blve Hills at the Bourbon Room.
It was a tight fit in the Bourbon Room, but that didn’t slow the moshing, crowd surfing, confetti shooting, beer drinking and general chaos that is New Swears.
My night began with Blve Hills who took the crowd on a psychedelic journey. Most of the set kind of felt like a well organize psych jam session, and I mean that in the best way possible. They were a bunch of musicians having fun and not taking themselves too seriously, but still rocking out. At one point a large stuffed snake was tossed into the crowd and thrown around for a couple of songs. Just confirming my point that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Then, out of nowhere, the set shifted from psych to a stronger, more punk rock style tracks to finish off. This climax of the set really switched the mood and got everyone ready for what was to come next with NOBRO and New Swears.
Setting the stage for New Swears was the most excellent three-piece NOBRO from Montreal. The ladies were excited to be back in Ottawa and were ready to shred. “Nice to be here in the nation’s capital for the Junos where everyone is a winner,” they said with a smirk. Their set was high energy and ripping, especially when they played songs of their aptly called EP Stoke Level: High. My favourite was “Call the Doctor,” where guitarist Marianna Florczyk really shines and shows off her skills. I strongly urge everyone to see NOBRO next chance you can, you will not be disappointed.
I have seen New Swears more times than I have fingers, but they are still one of the most entertaining acts to ever come out of this city. The set was no exception, and was filled with all the tracks I love from over the years. They stirred the crowd into a frenzy and had great stage antics, such as a rock n’ roll pyramid and playing guitar with a bassist’s legs wrapped around your neck, as we have all learned to expect. But now I’ll do a mostly non-punk rock thing and give a big shout-out to security. The two bouncers that were working probably had no idea what they signed up for. The moshing was one thing, but the stage divers (a.k.a human projectiles) during “See You in Hull” was next-level for a venue that is not used to this stuff. The two gentlemen did a bang up job of keeping people safe but also letting us all have a riot. New Swears, never change.
New Swears being New Swears during JUNOfest in Ottawa.
NOBRO ripping it at Bourbon Room in Ottawa during JUNOfest.
Blve Hills getting all psychedelic on us at Bourbon Room in Ottawa during JUNOfest.
Ottawa probably seems like the last place in the world that beach-friendly surf rock would come out of, other than Moscow… maybe. But Cody Parnell, a.k.a. Blve Hills, has different ideas.
Blve Hills has released two records, both this year and both over ten tracks long. Pretty impressive, especially for a guy that seems like he was made for the chill beach bum life on the Gold Coast in Australia. It’s refreshing to see someone make music without taking themselves too seriously, and Parnell’s fun and laid back songwriting style is a much-needed dose of summer now that the cold weather is starting to make its way upon us. Fans of Mac DeMarco will feel right at home with this one.
The video for “She Won’t” off Blve Hill’s most recent LP She’s Still Here follows suit, and you can’t help but smile at its goofy concept while watching.
“I don’t think I’ve ever went the serious route while making a video,” explains Parnell. “It takes away from the fun. I’m not really much of a serious guy either.”
Filmed at the beach while back home in Orillia, Ontario, the dramatic rescue attempt of Parnell’s red guitar leaves us in suspense the duration of the video. The adversity he endures includes a death-defying rescue of the guitar in the treacherous waters of Lake Simcoe, as well as being shot at with water guns by children while playing said guitar. Although the ultimate fate of the instrument is uncertain in the video, we got an inside scoop from Parnell. “The guitar did survive the making of the video, and will live to make it through another.”
That’s pretty great news. We were worried there for a few minutes.