GAZM, Cell, DOXX, Toxic Thoughts, and Tightlip at The Legion
A cold Friday night, good friends, an incredible line-up, and an unlikely venue made this show one of the most unforgettable nights. The Legion was nearly empty when I showed up but by the very end of the night, the floor was packed with punks.
The show opened with Tightlip ferociously taking the stage after a screeching sound check. They blew the doors wide open and allowed people to warm up to the vibe that would overtake the night. The band didn’t hold back from bellowing bass lines, frantic guitar riffs, staccato drumming, and vocals that cut through the air in the form of screams. The elements combined all set the pace for the night and brought a rage to the scene.
The vocals were unfiltered, unperfected, roaring, and raw. They were filled with emotion, emitting frustration and anger outwards and filling the crowd to the brim with energy.
The drumming was heavy with use of the snare and cymbals. Each beat came in an extremely quick succession of one another–something that each drummer that night pulled off skillfully. Sometimes the crash of the cymbals and screams were synchronous, adding a layer to the songs played that only contributed to the harsh soundscape. Both the bass and the guitar melded together, having frantic and rushed conversation that squalled back and forth. Outbursts came from both ends, sometimes even so intense that guitar strings snapped.
Tightlip brought a tight-knit aggressive sound that burst with anger and radiated energy. They created this musical mess that dominated all while emanating a frantic sound that the crowd warmed up to and got lost in.
Toxic Thoughts brought forth a theme as heavy as their sound. Their music resonated with anger and aggression reflecting the struggles of being in one’s own body. The songs were held up by the drumming and supported by the bass line. Together these two components packed a punch that got the crowd roaring.
The guitar playing and controlled feedback added to the emotion of each song. Following closely with the bass line, the band incorporated it into the mass of pure noise and allowed the listener to really feel the emotions behind the music and vibrate within them.
Vocalist Felix Lahbabi-Granger threw himself around and thrashed about without regard as he bellowed into the microphone. Watching him provided a visual to the lyrics and it showcased a very real struggle that people deal with.
Starting with a slow progression and gaining volume and hostility as their set progressed, Toxic Thoughts kept the crowd stomping right along until the end.
DOXX brought a frantic and sporadic sound to the table, deconstructing the compositions to sew them back together loosely around Jeff Hurter’s bass line. Even the structure of the guitar solos danced around the heavy-handed bass. It’s dirty and messy but with a handle on chaos.
The band played with emphasis, accentuating heavier parts by slowing the otherwise quick pace. Through Kieran’s drumming, in particular, one felt the build-up to the release of tension and aggression. They were absolutely hostile and cold but completely balanced. The smooth progressions between that slow and heavy pace to the quick and bitter rage that overtook it was virtually flawless. Britt’s skills on the guitar kept the emphasis on the ferocity of each song. Even the shifts in pace felt smooth as opposed to feeling forced and out of place. It was an organised mess that added a depth to the songs that one may not expect.
Sof’s lyrics had strong socio-political views but they were delivered in a series of screams that carried a controlled tonal range. A rumbling grit that emerges from deep within and transitions to high pitched—it clawed at us and dragged us in. Her vocals played with the contrast of smooth and gritty but they carried a sound so impactful that you didn’t need to try and listen to it, you just had to let it hit you.
Refreshingly infuriated–that is the sound that Cell introduced to the crowd. It was pure noise with little to no differentiation between the bass or guitar–but don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing. The bass and guitar turned into a dynamic duo, thundering through the room.
The guitar was ferocious and echoed the bass, loose feedback kept a constant through the set. Through bleeding the guitar and bass line together, the solos really packed a punch and stuck out like sore thumbs. I found that through this technique, there was a deeper appreciation for all the solo work that was done.
The screams came out in bouts of fury. They were careless but well thought out, they progressed from calm to infuriated. It was high energy, fueled by what seems like pure anger with a twist of carelessness. The distorted vocals seemed to tear a sense of warmth through each of the songs. Don’t let that fool you though, the punch was packed into the screams that seemed to paint the room green and overturn the warmth. They held the old school punk feel, creating this nostalgia all while channeling an inseparable aggression and bringing something completely new to the table.
GAZM, a punk band from Montreal, delivered a full-blown performance without a single falter in the energy they emitted. Due to my synesthesia—the ability to see sound as colour—I noticed that GAZM painted the atmosphere all shades of oranges with hints of red speckled throughout. They sent off anger in waves but never burdened the crowd with it. Instead, the crowd too released the deep-rooted emotions, but in the form of a mosh pit. The sound that emitted is abrasive and aggressive but held enough warmth to envelop you in it and draw you in with ease.
The vocals were ragged and torn, ripping through the crowd without mercy. The lyrics, in combination with the cold drumming, the buzzing guitar, and the weighted bass created this burst of looseness and prompt people to open up a mosh pit. You begin to understand how the emotions and tension are released once you get sucked into one.
The quick succession of each drum beat prompted the thrashing and shoving, each instrument building and adding fuel to the fire. There seemed to be a release of anger in it. The band created noise that brought together shrill bends on specific notes that occur almost melodically. GAZM brought a sound to the room that is warm, save for the drumming, and you could hear it in the notes that are played.
They’re a band that can bring out emotion without leaving you with a burden to carry them past the present moment.
Each of the bands were loud, aggressive, and pack a punch which left a positive impact on those who attended. The show itself was one for the books, so next time these punk bands play a show, grab a friend and head on down. And remember, if someone falls, pick them right back up.
Fried Egg, Radiation Risks, DOXX @ Pressed
DOXX ripped the stage apart on Wednesday night at Pressed when they opened with “Human Waste CEO” and that set the tone perfectly for the rest of the night. Fast paced, loud, aggressive, and high energy the bass lines Jeff plays are enough to shake the floor. It’s quick, timed, and it dominates. It demands your attention and doesn’t let it go. No two baselines are remotely the same.
Britt’s guitar playing is distorted, messy, and angry much like Sofia’s screaming. It adds a depth and sometimes choppiness to the songs but in a way that doesn’t make a song seem cut off. It completes it instead.
The guitar combined with Kieran’s drumming is what gets the crowd head banging, and moshing to the music. The drums come out as hostile and dynamic with much use of the snare and there isn’t a song that doesn’t use the loud crashing of the cymbals. This creates a balance in each of the songs.
Sofia, lead singer of DOXX, in the zone at Pressed in Ottawa.
Sofia’s vocals are impressive not only because she screams the songs, but because they’re rough around the edges however still maintain a smooth finish to them. She puts all the emotions she can muster into the words and what comes out of her is an incredibly big sound despite her being “short and stompy”. The lyrics hint at socio-political views that tend to be skewed and then rage against them in fashion that isn’t all that contained. The bitterness and resentment is clear but it’s presented in a fun and enjoyable manner that gets everyone eager to hear the next masterpiece that’s to be belted out.
DOXX is a must see Ottawa band that’s sure to kick some energy into you and get you thrown into a pit of punks. They don’t fail to amaze and they certainly bring a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the shows they play. Ultimately, if you’re looking to enjoy some raw emotion, and a band that can pack a punch within their music, DOXX is the band you want.
John of Radiation Risks going full zombie or passing the mic to a fan to sing with him…you be the judge.
Radiation Risks knew how to play not only their instruments, but the crowd as well. They drew everyone in from the second they stepped on stage, and despite being more behind the scenes when off stage, they own a heavy stage presence. It’s hard not to pay attention to them. They tore open the crowd by getting right into their songs, no elaborate intros, nothing. Raw exuberance flowed through lead singer John and into the crowd. Every scream, every staggered movement fueled the crowd and got them more excited.
The guitar contrasted itself between heavy and light, high and low notes, solo work and chords and this was certainly a key aspect in putting the rhythm in people’s feet. It’s intricate but sometimes sloppy, melding with the deep warm thrum of the prominent baseline. There wasn’t a note that was missed which was incredibly impressive considering Nicky would constantly be moving and jumping around.
The baseline shakes you and you feel it in your heart. It jumps out of the music and stands out, begging to be noticed. There isn’t a single way you could miss the bass. It’s violent in a subtle way and it’s messy, blending in to the noise. The best way to describe it is pounding, and it rattles your heart right in your rib cage really making you feel what’s being played.
The drumming is rushed, slurred but clear. It makes perfect sense and of course there’s the thrashing sound of the cymbals, cool and cold. A variety of rudiments and beats play through one song interchangeably which adds a dimension that isn’t often found and better yet, it helps meld each song into the next. How that could possibly work is up to you to determine when you hear their sweet tunes.
Lead singer of Fried Egg delivering the goods at Pressed in Ottawa.
The last band to take the stage, with much spitting, was Fried Egg. Their sound is heavy and distorted all around and everything flows together to create a harsh edge to the sound produced. The vocals are choppy, fragmented and loud and they fall nothing but short of deep and raspy. The screaming is impressive and it tugs at my curiosity as to how the singer hasn’t torn up his vocal cords. Of course, this isn’t at all what I would have expected from a band called Fried Egg, but I guess everyone gets a surprise every now and then.
Irritated and cold power chords cut through the air and make their way to the ears of those listening. It’s enough to feel it in your feet and to get people trashing around, especially when in combination with the bass and drums. They’re in harmony with the fierce baseline but also tend to veer into their own world filled with pick scratches and wild effects that you’d only find at a show such as this one.
The bass picks up quickly and can only be described as progressive and fiery. It’s heard above everything when it’s being played and it creates a warmth within the song so that it can provide a counter to the cold that the guitar brings.
Setting the high energy and fast pace are the drums. With beats being played and quick and well plotted fills adding space and urgency to the music, the drumming couldn’t get better. The drummer goes hard and I’m surprised that the drumsticks hadn’t broken that night while he was playing. The drumming commands the beat that your body moves to, it’s the soul of the songs.
Whether you’re spectating from the sides or right dead in the middle, you’re going to get at least somewhat thrown into the mosh pit despite your best efforts to steer clear.
All the bands set the standards of punk gigs high and they certainly didn’t disappoint. They all radiated sheer talent that they’ve managed to contain and let out in a constructive and creative way that everybody can enjoy. They wooed the crowd and made every performance intimate and personal and they made a point to get a little too close for comfort. If ever you see the scribble of “Fried Egg”, “DOXX”, or “Radiation Risks” on a poster around town, or on a Facebook event, cancel all plans and make your way down. You’ll probably have a better time with them anyway.
Downtown Boys, C.H.U.D.s and DOXX at Zaphods
Photo by Ming Wu
Downtown Boys, C.H.U.D.s and DOXX tore it up at Zaphods playing one of the best shows of 2016.
To me, this show was everything that is right about punk. Songs highlighting almost everything that is wrong with our culture delivered with in your face intensity and dedication. Shows like this move me and rekindle my undying love for punk shows and all the people at them. Great show, great crowd and much respect.
Downtown Boys ripping it up at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Downtown Boys are an amazing punk band from Providence, Rhode Island led by the energetic, intense and captivating Victoria Ruiz. Anyone who wasn’t sure what they were in for was quickly shown what Downtown Boys is all about as they opened with “Eat The Rich,” followed by “Wave of History.” I love that they had no fear to play songs in Spanish, like the song “Santa” which they introduced by saying “Kiss the patriarchy good bye.” One of the coolest parts of the show was when Victoria gave a shoutout to DOXX and even quoted one of their songs while on stage, that’s one of the biggest compliments I have ever seen from a headliner to a local opening act. Victoria is also very up to speed on Canadian politics as she remarked “Canada never should have made and an arms deal with Saudi”and launched into the powerful song “Future Police” which doesn’t hold back any punches. The other awesome element of the band is their sax player. Yes this punk/hardcore band has a sax player that blasts along adding depth to the chaos. As I write this, I find that no matter the words I use I can not properly capture the absolute wave of energy and emotion that Downtown Boys evoked. Just see them anytime you can and as soon as possible.
C.H.U.D.s lead singer Imogen Reid spending the entire set in the crowd at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Before Downtown Boys was Ottawa’s own C.H.U.D.s. I believe C.H.U.D.s stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller like the early 80s horror movie, but don’t quote me on that. Local photographer, Imogen Reid leads this three-piece. She spent the entire set in the crowd thrashing from side to side and sometimes throwing herself to the ground. Her energy and commitment to the lyrics and the message is palpable and true. She lays herself out for everyone to see and hear while holding nothing back. A prime example of this was when she introduced a song saying “I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want to do with my body, I don’t have to prove how trans I am.”
New band DOXX killing it at Zaphod Beeblebrox in Ottawa. Photo: Ming Wu
Opening the show was a Ottawa’s newest hardcore band DOXX. With only one song over 2 minutes, the band blasted through their set. DOXX are a band making noise that just doesn’t really happen in Ottawa, I’m delighted they exist. They are straight forward, honest, fast, loud and made up of just some of the nicest people in the Ottawa music scene. Lead singer Sof is fierce on stage. There is no way you can’t feel amped by her energy during the song “Stuck in Hetero” as she flies around on stage.
New Music: DOXX Ottawa’s Newest Hardcore Band
Ottawa’s newest hardcore band DOXX recently dropped their first EP where they channel the hardcore of old.
The four-piece which includes members of Creep Wave and Blood Nail have traveled back in time and brought 80’s hardcore back with them. The longest song of the self-titled EP clocks in at a whopping 2 minutes and 16 seconds. I absolutely love how straight forward and in your face it is. Music doesn’t always have to be complicated, sometimes it just has to be honest and angry. And there is a lot of that in the words delivered by lead singer Sof.
I really like the whole release, but my favourite has to be “Baby Doomer.” The song is sung from the perspective of a baby boomer talking to the younger generation and not understanding any of his privilege or spoils. “Stop complaining, stop paying rent, get off your ass and make an investment, it’s easy, just do it, i know what’s best for you cuz i’m a baby doomer,” sings the baby boomer. To which Sof replies “baby doomer baby doomer fuck you.” I can see a lot of people getting behind this song and wanting a piece of the mic.
The EP is capped off with a cover of London, England’s Rudimentary Peni‘s song “Blissful Myth,” a song dating back to 1983, that is not a big fan of marriage.
Check out the EP below and see it live Friday April 29th as they open for one of the best punk bands going right now, Downtown Boys at Zaphod Beeblebox. More info here.