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 Thoughtsbrought 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.
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.
I ventured out to The Brass Monkey on the west-side of town for a heavy night with Every Time I Die, Knocked Loose, and Harms Way.
This was the first time I went to a show at The Brass Monkey (out near Hunt Club and Greenbank) and let me tell you – I was impressed. As someone who grew up in that area, I remember playing pool there a few times in my younger days, but they have really transformed the place. A raised stage, guardrails, sprawling bar, and excellent sound. Don’t let the distance scare you away from shows at The Brass Monkey, it is very much worth the trip.
Nostalgia on this night went much further than the venue and my old stomping grounds. This was a night of hardcore and heaviness that really brought me back. From the moment I walked in a heard Harms Way, I looked at my buddy and we reminisced about how we used to love bands like that 14 years ago. I don’t listen that genre as much as I used to (not even close) but it makes me really happy that people still make and love this music. As the band from Chicago let loose, people took advantage of the space to dance and “open that shit up.” Space that would diminish as the night progressed.
Knocked Loose live at The Brass Monkey in Ottawa.
Next up was Knocked Loose from Kentucky. They kept the heat on and the crowd was into it. There was a good group of people at the front screaming along as others threw down behind them. The crowd listened to every word, when told to open it up they did, when told to two step they danced and when told to spin it they started the circle pit. It was really fun to watch. My favourite tracks of the performance were “Oblivion Peak” and their closer “Deadringer.” Once again, I forgot how much I love this music and the adrenaline rush it creates.
It was now time for the main event – Every Time I Die. I have been a fan of this band since high school. I think it all started in grade eleven when I was in a band and one of the guitarists would often play Every Time I Die in his truck. I went into the show not being particularly familiar with the band’s last two albums, and having read a review about the Toronto show, I expected a lot of the new stuff. The new albums are great, but I was there for the older stuff I had listened to hundreds of times but never seen live. I braced myself.
Every Time I Die gave the old time fans almost everything we could have asked for, and the fans responded by crowding the barriers to sing along for the entire show. Yes, they played a few new songs off of their latest album Low Teens, but they dug deep and went back through their catalogue which spans over decade long. Opening with “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” off Ex-Lives from 5 years ago, the set featured fan favourites “We’rewolf,” which was dedicated to the bartenders, “The New Black,” “Floater,” “Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Battery” and “No Son of Mine.”
Every Time I Die rocking out at The Brass Monkey in Ottawa.
My highlight for sure was one of those deep cuts, “Ebolarama” off of the 2003 album Hot Damn! I hadn’t danced all night, I had watched and given people space and just listened to the band. But as soon as the first chord was strummed I was taken over with glee and adrenaline. I stayed off to the side for a bit but then had to enter the pit and have a time. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed an elbow to the eyebrow so much.
As much as I was loving life in the hot sweaty basement, so was the band. Lead singer Keith Buckley said “It’s fucking horrific outside. I can’t think of a better place to be than a bar where you can sweat with all your friends.” He also did the great thing of giving a big shout out to the bouncers who were working hard to keep every safe while letting us have fun and express ourselves as we needed. Big ups to Mike Postma and the crew.
No band moves me and makes me want to move quite like Touché Amoré does, and October 20th at Zaphod’s in Ottawa was no exception.
Touche Amore killing it at Zaphod’s in Ottawa.
Call them hardcore, call them punk, call them rock, no matter how you label Touché Amoré, one thing is certain – they are a powerhouse. From the moment the band took to the stage the energy in the room was palpable and the crowd was electric. The five-piece from California feed off the bodies flying around, arms in the air and crowd yelling along at the top of their lungs. When lead singer Jeremy Bolm isn’t moving all over the stage frantically, he is most often passing the mic into the crowd.
The band is touring their latest album Stage Four which is particularly special. Stage Four is a concept album of sort all about Jeremy’s mother passing away from cancer. The album has pain, sorrow, reminiscing and a lot of questions, question he always wanted to ask but never did. The band’s music has never been short of emotion, but the addition of the new tracks to the live show is something else. I don’t know how anyone can remain still during a Touché Amoré set. I understand not wanting to mosh, but when the music starts and and Jeremy grabs the mic I am immediately moved to dance and sing. Their music takes over and I am not in full control until the end of their set. Once it finishes I walk away feeling like everything is better and I always appreciate Touché just that much more.
Tiny Moving Parts playing Zaphod’s in Ottawa.
Setting the stage for Touché was Tiny Moving Parts from Benson, Minnesota. This three-piece transported me back to high school, which is awesome considering they all met in high school and have been playing together since. Tiny Moving Parts are a combination of Bear vs Shark, Sleeper Set Sail and Moneen… yeah they are that good. The sound that comes out of the three-piece is very impressive and the amount of feels just ooze in every song. They opened with the track “Vacation Bible School,” which has the line “I hate to say this but it makes me happy that it makes you sad,” and followed that with their new single “Celebrate” off their new album which carries the same name. I would be remise if I didn’t mention the drummer’s sweet hair, which flowed in the wind created by the fan, and his great moustache. It looked like a perfect 80’s hockey card photo op.
Opening the show was Culture Abuse from San Francisco. League singer opened by saying “They didn’t let our two guitarist in and we only have two, so this will be a special set.” Lucky for them “Boomer” who is the roadie/buddy of Tiny Moving Parts learned the songs and played as one of the guitarists the whole set. They replaced the second guitarist with members of Touché Amoré talking turns, including lead singer Jeremy for the last song which was pretty rad. Self described as “kinda grunge, kinda punk, kinda hardcore, definitely a good time.” Don’t think I could say it better and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Don’t let their name scare you away, this is a super fun band that I can’t wait to see again. When I think of how good the set was and they had fill-ins, I can only imagine how awesome their set would be with all their members.
Anti-Flag, Black Lungs, Audio Visceral and Pistols at Dawn jam packed Ritual for a night punk rock sounds and ideals.
Anti-Flag are a politically-charged punk band from Pittsburgh, and are still going strong even after nearly 30 years. Membership may have changed over the years, but the band’s message of fighting for the little guy, breaking down corrupt institutions, and building from the community level up hasn’t changed. Their punk “gospel” has always been about unity, including things like “brothers and sisters we’re glad to see faces that care for more than just themselves, this is your scene! Make a friend tonight and when you see them tomorrow say hi!”
Anti-Flag rocking Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa. Photo by Marianne Morency Landry
You never know what you are going to get on a setlist when a band has so many songs to choose from. The show included a lot of songs off my favourite album, Blood and Empire, which is great considering it is over 10 years old. They also played everything harder and faster than on the record. This made for a wicked hardcore punk vibe to the whole night and not as much of the almost pop punk that they’re known and loved for. The whole show was great, and I still can’t believe they covered Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” (short video here). I suspect it also pleased a local music promoter very much.
Black Lungs bringing the hardcore to Ritual Nightclub in Ottawa. Photo by Marianne Morency Landry
Black Lungs came out real hard for three songs before even introducing themselves. The band is a side project of Alexisonfire’s guitarist and vocalist (RIP), and current Gallows frontman Wade MacNeil. Wade thanked members of the Cancer Bats for filling in on drums and bass. Their addition was awesome in both presence and energy. As the set continued, Wade told the story behind the song “All Seeing Eye,” a hardcore track that times in just under 1 minute and 20 seconds. It is about a sketchy weird jerk off sex shop that the guys told him about that he checked out one day while drunk. When he started doing his business he noticed a little hole in the wall with a finger sticking through it and an eye watching him. As you can tell by the song, he was less than impressed. Black lungs played a solid set of originals and also through in a cover, choosing to play some Misfits.
Audio Visceral dressed to impress at Ritual Nightclub. Photo taken from their Facebook.
I showed up a little late and unfortunately missed locals Pistol at Dawn, sorry boys, and only caught like half to three quarters of Audio Visceral’s set. The boys from Beau’s Brewery sure do bring a lot of energy to their live show. The only thing I could really say to improve their set is singer, Steve Beauchesne, needs to be a bit closer to the mic as I feel like we missed out on a bunch of lyrics. However all in all, they rocked out.
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.
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.
Cross Dog is a three-piece ball of anger out of Peterborough playing hardcore-inspired punk rock. They do it a little different though, as they are just drums, bass, and vocals — no guitar. Vigilante is full of rage and societal commentary blasted over the thumping and driving drums and bass. Cross Dog is certainly for fans of Big Dick and early Death From Above, but they are not a carbon copy of those bands.
The first yell at the start of the opening track “Hot Shark” sets the tone for a ruckus-filled album that at only seven songs leaves you wanting more, or just leaves you plenty of time to play it again and again. I can’t help but love their song “Progress“, which is very openly critical of people who only care about dressing punk and who support bands with questionable lyrics simply because they are popular. The second verse just nails it: “I don’t care, I don’t hear what you’re saying to me, I’m programmed over progress. A life thought-free is the life for me, apathetic but fashion conscious.” The rest of the album continues on the same path and it capped off by the title track “Vigilante.” I hope this review doesn’t anger them so they don’t wage war and unleash their justice on me.
While slumming through another day finding new and exciting bands, there is one band that have recently released their debut EP. I speak, of course, about Pickering, ON’s hardcore band Lungless and their debut Inhale.
I became familiar with Lungless when they were Constellations back in 2014, when they embarked on their farewell tour throughout central Ontario. Now, if you were a fan of that band – you will absolutely love Lungless. Lungless is a more refined, polished and well structured version of Constellations, with two new vocalists instead of their previous solo vocalist, Dylan Cooper.
Lungless released their long-awaited Inhale on Friday, March 13th, 2015 – although the tracks were released individually throughout the week leading up to the release. The debut track and music video for “Lush” immediately gave me hope for this band, because it was fresh to the Ontario music scene. I am not really a big fan of hardcore music, but Lungless was very appealing to me because of their intensity and delivery in tracks such as “Lush”, “Eden” and “Glass”.
Another reason I was attracted to Lungless was their lyrical content, especially with the track “Glass”. For someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, bands who cover these subjects are always more palatable. The musical style even changes up to bring a new side to Lungless not heard on the rest of the EP, which makes me glad they chose it to close the EP.
“I’m sick of being empty, I’m sick of being broken.
I’d rather be alone, but I hate the silence”
As with all hardcore bands, Lungless has the vocal delivery to make happy most metal fans – which by today’s standards is next to impossible. You crazy metal heads!
Guitarist Nick Perovic and bassist Michael Griffin provide an excellent narrative for each song, with Greg Willhelm and drummer Michael Cernigliaro rounding each song out. The guitar work on this EP is pretty superb; heavy, melodic and frantic, with bass lines that quake your thighs altogether.
A great entrance back into the scene, Lungless have proved themselves worthy with this release. Hopefully, they’ll continue to build on this sound because it can definitely be something great.
A great crowd showed up at Gabba Hey! Sunday afternoon to bid farewell to Pregnancy Scares.
The all-ages matinee show was packed with a great mix of music fans from varying age groups, some looking like they were from junior high and others looking much closer to retirement than graduation. Whoever they were, they’d all gathered to send off one of Ottawa’s loudest, wildest and most in-your-face-intense bands that recently ended their five years stint — Pregnancy Scares.
Craig Peru and his crazy eyes leading Pregnancy Scares during their final show. Photo: Eric Scharf
With the lights turned off and the smoke machine in full effect, the funeral began. This was not your average celebration of life as the deceased was on stage leading the charge at 100 km/h. That is the Pregnancy Scares way — blaring vocals over fast & crunching music with the crazy eyes of Craig Peru telling the rest of the story. The pit erupted at the sound of the first chord and only slowed when Peru was lifted above them and carried by the mourners around the room. It was really special to hear them perform “Don’t Try” as it was the first song they ever wrote together. A few songs in, guitarist Davey Quesnelle was passed the mic so he could speak his mind. “I really want to thank these guys for being in a band with me for five years… Time go out on top!”
Sparks flying during Pregnangcy Scares’ final show. Photo: Eric Scharf
The zenith was reached during during the final song of that last performance.
Energy from the crowd clashed with the band’s and culminated into a chaos of people getting on stage while Pregnancy Scares blasted away. It was taken to a whole other level when a man on the side of the stage wearing safety goggles and a bandana over his mouth started an electric grinder inside a steel Ottawa Senators trash can. He showered the stage and musicians with sparks and Davey, loving every minute of it, went as as close as he possibly could. The crowd completely engulfed the stage as all were shrouded in smoke and some grabbed drum sticks to pound away with Dave Fournier. As the wall of distorted sounds slowed and members started leaving the stage, Dave exploded from behind the veil of smoke and sent his drum set flying everywhere. Goodbye Pregnancy Scares, you sure capped off the five-year run with one hell of a performance.
Subsistench from Montreal playing through their hangovers at Gabba Hey! Photo: Eric Scharf
Montreal three-piece Subsistench began their set mentioning that they we “So hung over.” I guess this is one of the consequences of afternoon shows. The bass player was dealing with it pretty well as she slammed back coconut water. Things did not get off to the best start when the guitarist broke a string during their first song. Luckily other bands still in the crowd jumped to the rescue and brought him their guitar to play. Oh, Ottawa you are so kind. One thing that cannot go unmentioned about Subsistench is their drummer. He took to the stage wearing a mask that looked like Skeletor from He-Man, chains from over his shoulder crossing like an X on his chest and cut-off jean shorts… he is also a pretty dynamic drummer. Subsistench really peaked my attention with the tracks “Conform” and “Plastic Lies.” They concluded their set with the bass player saying, “We are Subsistench, we hate you.” Considering that they were all smiles the whole time it seemed kind of out-of-place.
Darryl Andrew Reid, lead singer of Sick Nurse, at Gabba Hey! Photo: Eric Scharf
I am pretty sure Sick Nurse were playing their first show ever — so, a birth amidst all this talk of death. The band began to play and there was no sight of lead singer Darryl Andrew Reid. He then emerged through the crowd wearing a Reagan mask and began to wrestle with a fan and slammed down to the ground. This would not be the last time Reid would find himself on the floor during the set. Sick Nurse may very well be the angriest band in town and I am sure they like it that way. Reid marched around on stage and threw himself flat, often pounding the floor while unleashing what appeared to be decades of pent-up rage. It was loud, fast and very raw. The set was mostly original material, but it did feature a couple of covers, including Bishop Green’s “Vacant State.”
Sailor Jupiter kicking things off at Gabba Hey! Photo: Eric Scharf
Getting the afternoon started was one of my new favourite local bands, Sailor Jupiter. I was always more of a Sailor Mars kind of guy, but this all-girl three-piece garage band quickly changed my allegiance. From the very first song I was in. The band had no fear of changing pace as their first song was a little slow and they followed it up with “Can’t Surf” which much faster and rockier. They may list themselves as garage, but I see them as more of a grunge revival sound. The bass intro for “Dead to Me” was really sweet and just kept adding to how excited I was to finally see this band. They were one of the best opening acts I have seen in a long time and are certainly a band to watch. Rumour has it they are working on recording some music as you read!