Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
Fresh off their tour and right to House of TARG to play their last show for that leg was Ottawa’s beloved Torpor. From the moment they set foot on stage, there wasn’t a moment where the audience wasn’t headbanging and pumping their firsts to the pure aggression.
Raising awareness of social issues, such as indigenous murders, Torpor pour out their frustrations while maintaining a firm stance on the subjects they write about. With overbearing and overdriven guitar, the mood was set to mosh. It was weighted with the bass, only adding to the power of what was being played. The vocals cast a contrast to it, coming out as higher and shrill screams erupted from the back of Elodie’s throat. The energy the last show of the tour held was one I haven’t seen before. The drumming even proved more aggressive and it fell hard. While cold, the intensity didn’t falter.
The band painted the atmosphere an array of colours that would spray one across the other, the background an array of blue hues due to the drumming, splashes of deep greens from the guitar. The bass added obnoxious reds that hid behind the rest of the colour while intermingling with the purple and chilly blue tinted off-white of the vocals.
Given the chance, seeing Torpor is a must. Torpor is a band that puts on a performance to leave your jaw slack in awe.
Up next was Ottawa’s hardcore heroes, DOXX. Tearing open their set with some favourites from III, to lead into a new song mid-set, they didn’t disappoint. When do they ever?
The vocals held strong social and political connotations for those who managed to decipher them and Sof screamed them at the top of her lungs, dramatically drawing some of them out in a very I-don’t-give-a-fuck manner. Met with Kieran’s wild and cold drumming the vocals are emphasized and the beat allows for you to move your body in ways you normally wouldn’t.
The guitar and bass melded together and played a sort of cat and mouse game with one another, sewing each part into the next. The two acted almost as a skeleton. Fuzzy and distorted in golden hues. The guitar held a raw aggression while the bass rumbled on in fury. The two rounded the songs together, and absolutely completed them.
Scorpio Rising, from Toronto, Ontario tackled the stage at full velocity shortly after DOXX. With a bassline that pounded into your chest and burst through the rest of the noise, and guitars that raged on bellowed out a firey energy. The guitar on its own was fueled with feedback and repeated riffs to the aggression. Quick switches melded into a smooth progression, the band works the music.
The band itself managed to flail themselves about in an almost careless and lazy manner. Despite such mannerisms, the effort and soul thrown into the performance was spectacular. It’s difficult to peel your eyes away from Scorpio Rising. The movements of the band members were incomprehensible and wild.
The vocals cut through the irate soundscape and came out in throaty screams that were filled with passion. The more you listen to them, the more entranced you become. The drumming added a punch behind the vocals and proved to be hollow but warm. Each beat sounded tight and didn’t hold a particularly high resonance.
The soundscape in sea greens and electric blues. The vocals added a layer of burnt oranges and neon yellow to the mix and were balanced out with the warmth of the drums. Even the cymbals resonated as peach colours instead of blue-tinted hues.
Headlining that night was BIB, from Omaha, Nebraska. Given that their vocalist got stuck at the border, they had Bee from Scorpio Rising fill in for the night. She delivered with outstanding passion and stomped around heavily, delivering a fiery performance on its own.
The basslines only provided a deep green chugging that backed the anger while the sludgy blue guitar riffs dominated through the set. The feedback provided by the two was controlled yet added a sense of completeness to the songs, often closing them off or opening them up.
The drumming found a shallow sound that popped and made itself present in a subtle yet bold way that was hard to ignore. The drumming bludgeons through everything and in combination with the other instruments absolutely encompasses true wild punk energy.
The lineup was one to die for, and if you missed it, I’m so sorry. Keep your eye out for these bands because you really won’t want to miss them.
On April 12th, House of TARG hosted a huge lineup featuring the likes of France’s Topsy Turvys, as well as The Valveenus, Audio Visceral, & Crown Vic. Our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to capture the action, have a look at the gallery below.
On March 24th, packed with punks, was Ottawa’s very own House of TARG. Legends made a comeback alongside some of the finest hardcore punk bands in the community. The sets warmed everyone up on the brisk spring night and made a good end to the day.
Merciless, absolutely brutal, and loud enough to tear the floor up with nothing but the roaring of the guitars are Ottawa locals, Wire Cuffs. So weighted that it pulled us in, the sound beat through our chest. Particularly prominent basslines, punch-packing power chords, and vocals that rip through the stuffy basement air.
The raged vocals tied into the aggression of each song, creating an unclean and raw energy. A release of energy so unconstrained that when unleashed, it got everybody moving erratically, the lyrics seem to not only draw screams from the band but that crowd as well. Quite literally ripped from the throat, as opposed to the diaphragm, the vocals were unfiltered and pulled from within. They’re what you’d imagine the shredding of vocals chords sounds like, but in a way that encompasses frustrations and angst.
The guitar and bass were steady but rather abrasive. Both complimented one another, equally heard. They were the source of the steady flow of rage. They held a sharp and cold edge to them that resonated with bitterness the closer you listen. They chugged on, almost playing a game of cat and mouse with each other, dissonant and seemingly off key from time to time. Overwhelming, the two instruments fill you with emotion and allowed you to release them due to the tempos they set. Earsplitting and turbulent, the guitars shocked us with the sheer power of their anger and strength of emotion they convey. The riffs were structured and quickly executed, like second nature to the guitarists. They stood out on their own and pull your ear in.
The drumming was cold and thrashing, with heavy use of the ride and crash cymbals. Booming and rattling away, with a partially open high hat it acted as the metronome but far more emotionally driven. The drummer went all out and didn’t hold back. Crashing mercilessly into each part of the drum kit, there wasn’t a sense of playing carefully despite the precise timing. The drummer got into this as the crowd got lost in his performance, fueled by raw power, irritation coming across in each beat. This comes across prominently in Alien Vampire Invasion.
With a new ferocity and new tunes, DOXX took to the stage next. Opening with a new song, as opposed to Human Waste CEO, the band sunk their rage into the crowd and got their fists pumping and bodies moving in time with the rhythms set. They were boisterous, enraged, and provocative, the band only gets better with each release—and heavier.
The guitar riffs Brit played appeared to be layered, the effect of being split into two parts prominent through their newer songs. The guitar appeared to have it’s own voice more so than before and tore through the crowd with its roar. Merging high and low notes to create a new dynamic, the guitar chuggedwith weighted chords to radiate an abysmal provocation of anger within the crowd. Sharp and expeditious, Brit didn’t hold back, putting tremendous energy into each song that rips from her guitar.
Jeff’s bass playing shook the floor with its sheer power. Prominent but leveled out with the guitar, it seemed to not back the guitar but in fact, drew more attention to itself and Brit’s playing due to the contrast in tone and octaves. The bass roared, and due to the slight distortion and delay, there was a fuzz to it. It backed the beat but has a mind of its own, split away and adding a depth to the songs.
Kieran’s drumming was hard and fast. Thrashing and crashing he got the crowd into it—high energy and booming, the snare became a prominent aspect of each song, later joined by the cold and vehement cymbals. Besides the bass, the drumming shook the core with its sheer power. It set the merciless tempo and conveys the emotions through each abrasive beat.
Sofia’s vocals not only get better with each performance, but manage to convey more emotion each time. The delivery is relentless and in your face, only mellowing out to be able to emphasize the growls that rip themselves from her throat. Sofia’s vigor is wild and the screams that she built up are warm yet venomous. They ranged from higher screams to ones drawn from deep within, the control behind each of them was unfathomable.
After Doxx, Asile took the stage. Ottawa locals took a twist on the night, spitting out lyrics in French instead of more commonly used English. Asile dominated and put forth a ferocious energy that encouraged some headbanging and fistpumping. It was pure hardcore punk that incorporates guitar solos and riffs that remain brief and punchy.
The vocals hardly needed to be strained, the screams were unified in nature and remind me of D. O. A, they drive the spirit of the songs forward. Even if incomprehensible to those who don’t speak French, the delivery was so raw and driven with passion that it still catches peoples attention and gets them riled up and ready to mosh. It’s not so much about the lyrics themselves, but rather the delivery.
The guitar was wildly overdriven and generated such strength in intensity that it became nearly impossible not to listen for all the little technicalities—at least for me. From the few pick scrapes, to tremolo picking, and of course the precise hammer-ons and pull-offs, the guitarist knew no bounds. The riffs in C’est Qu’on Nous Dis, in particular, stood out as cold and paint the warm backbeat blue. Like a magnet, the solo work pulls you in due to the contrast it sets to the pieces.
The bass is by far one of the most prominent features. It’s deep and literally shook the floor, rattling in your rib cage as a result. It held a steady flow of feedback while pounding into our ears. It’s the backbone, the steady support that bursts through obnoxiously. It’s the crackling fire—angry, warm, and comforting. It glowed and radiated a distinguished and eloquent fury.
The drumming was fervent and rolled in with such severity that it nearly blew our eardrums out the second it began. It was the cause of the overwhelming hot-cold thrashing beats. Mauling with a sheer force of power was a great contrast between the warm sound of the toms and the chaotic and frosty cymbals. Each beat came in quick succession of the previous one, they ended up rolling into one another. It radiated a sheer unstoppable force that is difficult to match. The drummer showed no mercy to the drum kit, seemingly releasing every emotion into it. With the cold that comes with the cymbals, there was the bit of harsh yellow that peaks through as the crashing resonates.
The headliner of the night was Ottawa’s very own The Fucking Machines. A decade-long wait for a new release has come to an end. With rumbling screams, heavy-handed power chords, and shallow but resonant drumming, they wrapped up the night. They brought forth the spirit of D. O. A. and Reagan Youth all at once. The quick pace and progressions really drew from old school punk from the 80’s and 90’s.
The vocals were unconventional and not quite what one would expect, but they complimented and created an opposition to the deeper and heavier guitar and bass playing. The mesh between the two vocalists added dimension to what was being screamed and accentuated the lyrics for a more forceful delivery. While the screaming wasn’t the deep and booming screams you associate with hardcore of today, it added a refreshing flavour to the mix, holding more traditional and spoken screams as opposed to ones linked melodically.
The guitar was ferocious and incorporated the rushed progressions that resemble ones of punk bands from the 80’s. It was played with heart and passion, no holding back. The pick slides are essential to this band and they add to the songs and performance so that it doesn’t remain as constant. The guitar wailed and groaned, overdriven and furious.
The bass rumbled below the guitar and became increasingly prominent underneath solo work. It held a fat sound that was distorted by the rest of the soundscape, however, it still pushed through boldly. Muddy but tight, it supported the guitars and burst through the sheer strength and volume the drums hold. Be mindful—it’s heavy and absolutely booming, and may be concealed, but could burst your eardrums over all else.
The drums had a washy and full feeling to them. They were booming and warm, enveloping each song in the beat. The fills came in spurts, incorporated without using the typical structure, they added emphasis before screams or before the guitar flows back into it’s odd. The drumming sounded shallow, but the booms of the drumstick hitting the drum itself was so forceful that it resonates through House of TARG.
All in all, the bands are ones to look out for. Their delivery is immovable and so forceful that you feel the emotions conveyed from them to you. With new releases from them, and comebacks, it would be a shame to not keep your eye out for their shows. I guarantee that whether you’re sober or had one too many drinks, you’ll enjoy them if hardcore punk is up your alley.
Last Friday, April 6th, we had the pleasure of presenting Jon Creeden & The Flying Hellfish LP release party at House of TARG along with The Creeps, Finderskeepers, and Joe Vickers. For us, it was a no brainer to put this one on. Great friends, great bands, and one night to remember.
Jon Creeden is one of the hardest working musicians in this town, and he’s paid his dues for years. It was a dream come true to have The Creeps on board, as they have been making noise in Ottawa since 1999 and have shown no signs of slowing down. Finderskeepers reunited after a three-year hiatus (and two babies later) to play an electrifying set. Joe Vickers, a true purveyor of genuine Canadiana folk, happened to be rolling through town, too, and he opened the night with a gripping set. DJs Captain Concussion and Ted Dancin’ (Eric and I, respectively) also spun vinyl all night to keep the part going. Check out the incredible photos by our photographer Aidan Thatcherbelow!
The video begins with clips of Jon and various members of the Flying Hellfish out on tour making you think this will most likely be a tour montage video. Instead we are treated to the band rocking out on stage wearing their now signature Hawaiian shirts, a tribute to JS Belleau—a member of the Ottawa music scene who left us too soon.
Most of the video was shot during the band’s set at Pouzza Fest 2017 in Montreal by the very talented Jonah Aspler. It is a lot of fun to watch the band playing on stage to so many familiar faces in the crowd even if it isn’t in Ottawa. And it is awesome to watch Richard Barrie (Positive Charge) give Jon a big kiss and later when Jon cheers the crowd with his tall boy of PBR.
Watch the video below and come live a live Jon Creeden & the Flying Hellfish performance for yourself at their Stall album release show this Friday April 6 at House of Targ supported by The Creeps, Finderskeepers and Joe Vickers, more details here.
It is not every day that you get to see Blink 182, Green Day, and Everclear all in one show, let alone in a small intimate basement venue setting. This past Saturday that is exactly what happened for the lucky ones who filled House of Targ to the brim Saturday night… well not exactly.
This was the 10th installment of 90’s Punk Rock Cover Night, a night which features members of local bands covering songs from their favourite punk groups of the 90’s for a good cause. Nights 9 and 10 were back to back and raised $2540 for Evelyn Horne Women’s Shelter (offering young women aged 12 to 20 immediate access to safe housing) and For Pivots Sake (a non-profit organization founded by Antique Skate Shop to engage and mentor youth in the Ottawa community). This is an awesome initiative by one of the hardest working people in the music scene in Ottawa—Ska Jeff—hosted at one of the coolest venues in Ottawa—House of Targ. Now to get to the music.
Quinnzelle covering Blink 182 at House of Targ.
Playing this night was Quinnzelle doing Blink 182 songs, Radiodazed covering Green Day and members of The Suffering Booth playing Everclear. Most of the bands focused on playing their favourite songs as opposed to just playing the typical radio hits from the bands. People will surely have mixed opinions about that approach, but I thought it was a fun way to do it, and the non-stop mosh pits for Blink and Green Day corroborate that. That being said every band did sneak in a couple of hits for the fans. Quinnzelle played a couple of my favourites like “Carousel” and “Aliens Exist,” while also giving the crowd what they wanted with “All the Small Things” and “What’s My Age Again?”
Radiodazed covering Green Day and looking the part at House of Targ.
Radiodazed took to the stage to the intro of the video for “Nice Guys Finish Last” wearing Green Day masks to look the part, which was quite a nice touch. The band focused mostly on the early catalogue staying in the 90s playing songs off of Kerplunk,Dookie, Nimrod and more. They did something pretty cool for everyone’s favourite song “Basketcase” by inviting someone on stage from the crowd to play on a fake guitar and sing. The fan, Matt, killed it and was rewarded by being granted the right to trash the guitar on stage. What really blew me away was the fact that this band is the same band that played my University of Ottawa communications frosh week 13 years ago when we all get dressed up fancy thinking we were going to the nicest club in Gatineau after the casino but instead were taken to a dirty dive bar to see a punk band play. I distinctly remember the immense joy I felt when I saw the drummer’s huge red mohawk.
Getting things started were 3 members of The Suffering Booth covering one of my all time favourite bands—Everclear (thanks dad!). They also avoided playing the big hits like “Santa Monica” and “Father of Mine” which left more room for great tracks like “Heartspark Dollarsign,” “Amphetamine,” and “So Much for the Afterglow.” It was a lot of fun to go back to these songs which meant a lot to me growing up.
House of TARG hosted a killer mid-week show on Wednesday night, and our photographer Aidan Thatcher was there to catch some great shots. Denmark’s renowned post-punk band The Foreign Resort headlined the evening, invigourating the crowd with dense basslines and intricate and reverb-laden guitar work. They were supported by locals Deathsticks andCoastal Pigs, which rounded out the show nicely. Check out the gallery below!
Ottawa’s very own Aviv took the stage Thursday night at House of TARG. They brought a mellow and funky energy with them and spun intricately coloured patterns with their sound. The riffs they played took the form of laid-back jazzy licks with a rock kick to them. The sound soothed and threw you into a whirl of serenity all while it whisked you into its own world.
Guitar, in combination with they keyboard, accentuated the warmth in the songs while the rest of the instruments cooled it down. The two instruments would intertwine and paint the atmosphere deep orange and reds, the high notes accentuating yellows. The band played rhythmically and each beat fell into step with another. They created a dreamy soundscape through melodic keyboard playing backed with soft drumming.
The vocals were smooth as honey and held a certain lightness to them that’s hard to replicate. Backed by bandmates’ deeper and more ragged sounding voices, it expanded the atmosphere and opened up House of TARG to more than just the basement it was. Captivating, entrancing, and moving, the vocals set the mood and made it hard to turn away.
The drumming came in warm or cool, giving an R&B soul to the alternative rock sound held through the set. Even the crashing of the cymbals came in pools, and the muted snare and toms really added an atmospheric and summery feeling to the soundscape and threw you into a hot summer day to relished in.
The bass was muddled together with the melody and added some stability to the pieces. It thrummed in the background and added stability along with weightedness. Due to its smooth incorporation into each song, you might not have heard the bass but you felt it in your heart and chest
O Neptune started their set next and blew the crowd out of the water. The incredible vocal range paired with the sombre minor scales and careful progressions really set the tone for their set. Soft vocals, ranging from alto to soprano in smooth transitions proved warm in sharp contrast to each piece. They’re the first thing to draw you in, and they do so by the collar of your shirt.
The guitar playing started out soft but transitioned into something more intense, drawing clear blues influence the deeper into the songs it went. Rough and distorted, it called to the soul and splashed a deep green through the blues. You can see and hear this in the song “Take Me Away”. In the beginning, it was shaped into a more mellow R&B chord progression but took the form of something more intense, mellowing out only when it neared the end.
The drums followed along with the intensity, seemingly setting it and not only building it. They provided the backbeat but were not a discarded element or component despite not being in your face overpowering. Each beat tied together created a consistency to the pieces that would have been lacking had the drums not added their own fills. The drumming added a punctuality to the otherwise forlorn and dissonant sound.
The bass melted into each song, slow and progressive. It opened their sound wider open and created a deeper and multidimensional feeling to their music. This effect was achieved especially due to the disparity between the basslines and the powerful soprano vocals. Subtle and harder to hear, it still makes all the difference. Omitting the bassline would have taken away the magnitude the songs held.
Sparse keyboard playing added air and lightness to each piece. It complimented the vocal range throughout despite keeping a seemingly monotonous feeling to it. It was a key factor in the ensemble and tied everything together through its grace and humbleness. Not a single note made a big deal of itself however, it was prominent and hit hard.
No Hits at House of Targ
No Hits, Ottawa locals, are that summer indie band that brings warmth to even the coldest months. Through the banter, inclusiveness, and their intricate sound, they manage to make taking the stage seem like something they’ve done many times. The five performers display their evident friendship through minor interactions that only solidify their performance.
Though mostly having played covers, the originals they peddled out were captivating and got the crowd singing along. The guitars paired with the airy drumming played on the idea of aimlessly driving as the summer breeze whips your hair around your face. It meddled with greens, blues, and the warmth of dandelion yellows crackling through it all. The noted played were higher and the licks were ones that filled your heart to the brim.
The gentle notes struck on the keyboard backed the idea that it was lighthearted and they lifted the songs off the ground, giving an extra dimension to the songs. It was light and carefree, but conveyed and carried out the message of the wistful lyrics wordlessly despite not syncing up with the lyrics.
The bass accentuated the high notes struck on the guitars and pulled the soundscape together in an orange glow. Though faintly heard, it protruded as soon as the pace slowed, allowing it to have its own moment. Rather than drowning it out completely, the take on it feels like that of “Not My Girl” by Tokyo Police Club—present, essential, glowing—but you need to listen for it. When the sound broke, the bass line served to pull it back together.
The vocals captured the essence of the band in all the right ways. Passionate, sorrowful, and emotive, they moved the crowd, they moved me. The lyrics sung are a contrast to the instrumental and prove to be much more melancholy than the band sounds. Christiana and Keean both alternate between who takes the lead but both voices are unique and fit the respective individual perfectly. The emotions poured from each in their own way and painted the room with deep purples. Their voices were light and easy to listen to, smooth with a bit of a monotonous edge. It encased the sorrowful meaning behind the lyrics well.
When it comes down to it, these bands are ones that you don’t want to miss. Whether you need to laugh or cry, they cover the entire range of emotions you could experience. They’re bands you listen to at one in the morning and weep, or you listen to them and dance around your house. If that’s not your thing either, maybe you tap your toes to the beat. Either way, these individuals are a talent you wouldn’t want to miss seeing live. And if you so happen to have synesthesia, enjoy the colourful experience—it’s an unbelievable one.
It was a packed bill Friday night at the House of Targ with Doc Hopper, Steve Adamyk Band, Audio Visceral, Laureate, and Matt Charette all gracing the stage.
Doc Hopper—the headliner for the evening—is a 90’s punk band from the North East US named after Doc Hopper, who was the owner of Doc Hopper’s French Fried Frog Legs chain of fast food restaurants in The Muppet Movie. As a bonus, Mikey Erg, of the Jersey pop punk legends The Ergs!, is currently playing with the band as they tour, which was quite anawesome surprise.
They played a solid fast hitting set of pop punk which took me back to my younger years of the late 90s when I was just discovering this style of music. Now, I never really listened to Doc Hopper other than a few songs on some mix CDs (remember those?!) but they had a sound that I was always very fond of. The song that really caught my ear and stuck with me was “She’s a Coke Head,” which is not the most uplifting of songs I know, but it was damn catchy. I also loved that the lead singer and guitarist gave a shout out to Punchbuggy, an infamous local punk band from the 90s, and asked if Scallen was at the show and then said “he is probably actually sleeping at this time, actually all our friends are old and tired.” There was a pretty excited group of folks who were moshing and dancing for much of the night. I don’t think they really knew any of the bands, but were just there for a good time. It was a lot of fun to see and definitely upped the energy in the room.
Steve Adamyk Band joined on stage by friends and former members during their set at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
The Steve Adamyk Band were on fire as always, bringing their local punk rock to the stage. The three-piece band opened with a new song which sounded great and they played another new song later in their set, which hopefully means we are getting new Adamyk on wax soon. Steve Adamyk is one of the most prolific punk rockers in the capital so you never really know what you’ll get as a set list, but on this night we got the aforementioned new songs, a bunch of tracks off his 2016 release Graceland, including favourites “Carry on” and “Swallow you whole,” as well as some deeper dives into the back catalogue. It was awesome to watch him play “I Fought for the U.S.A.” and have Dave Williams of Crusades and Black Tower, and former Adamyk band member Davey Quesnelle jump on stage to sing along. Adding to the moment was the fact that Davey was working at the time and was still sporting his perogie making apron. Good times were had by all for sure.
Audio Visceral dressed to chomp and rocking out at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Steve Beauchesne, owner of Beau’s and guitarist of Audio Visceral, took to the stage sporting a sweet Pacman suit. Audio Visceral is made up of Steve and two other Beau’s employees. Yeah they make some of the country’s best beer and still find time to be in a pretty cool punk band. Some people have too much talent…but I digress. Once they finally got started (damn it Garry!) they powered through their first six songs without really taking a break, except maybe to have a sip of Lug Tread. They played a hilarious song called “I Suck” which doesn’t appear to exist online anywhere but the lyrics had me in stitches. Hopefully the fact that they are playing this new song and a few others means a second album is in the works. I know us fans will certainly drink it up…
Laureate playing at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Pop-punk foursome, Laureate, from Montreal, were the first full band to play on this night. The band beautifully builds off of vocal harmonies between guitarist Giancarlo and bassist Erin, who essentially share the role of lead singer. This is complemented by some intricate guitar work by the other guitarist, who at times brought me back to the finger picking ways of screamo and heavier bands, particularly when they tap out the strings on the neck. It was fun to watch and he was really rocking out. The band’s set featured a minor setback when the bass started phasing in and out. Members of Steve Adamyk Band were quick to try to help, fiddling with the amp and providing a new patch chord. In the meantime Erin powered through, and what could have been a disaster really allowed us to focus on their impressive and really tight harmonies in the absence of the bass. This band needs to play Ottawa more often given that Montreal is not that far, and their sound really fits in with a lot of what is happening in this city. Check them out, especially their new record Landmarks and get ready to sing a long at their next show.
Matt Charette kicking things off Laureate playing at the House of Targ in Ottawa.
Opening things up was something completely different than the rest of the show. Matt Charette, a singer songwriter from Boston, played more folk and country than punk rock with his acoustic guitar and harmonica. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining as he has an awesome voice, is a great story teller, and certainly has some punk rock running through his veins given his lyrics and the Black Flag cover he chose to play. This was his second ever show in Canada, the first one being the night before in Toronto, and someone decided to play a trick on him and rewrite his setlist. The “custom” list included all covers by bands such as Nirvana, Metallica, The Cure, and Dead Kennedys. While he did play some covers, his original tracks were great. I especially liked “City Streets.” All in all, this night was chalk full of great bands and great times.
House of TARG, a timeless venue that brings all sorts of people together through pinball, perogies, and concerts, held one deafeningly loud and soulful show on the night of November 9th. The lineup held a promise that the show would be one that the audience wouldn’t forget, unless they were drunk off their asses—and it delivered.
Opening with a roar was Black Oak Decline and they didn’t fail to capture the attention of the crowd and drive a new energy that I hadn’t seen in the atmosphere before. With precise and quick scales and solo work for the guitar. It’s quick and hard to follow but if you just let yourself listen, you get swept up in the emotions the music drives. It’s numbingly loud and sure to leave your ears ringing for the next two and a half days, which is something I can vouch for.
The bass is sludgy and grimy. There is nothing, absolutely nothing clean about the sound of this band. The bass is played almost like a guitar in the sense that there’s a lot of scales and jumping around within the basslines. But it’s deep, you can feel it rumble in your chest, and shake the floor. It over-driven and powerful and holds structure all while being the least structured seeming part.
The drums embody heaviness to them and they’re cold and distant. They resonate with you the longer you listen to them. While they do follow the rhythm, they also tend to veer off and create a unique space for themselves, straying from the conventional path. The make the songs sound full and create an atmosphere to get lost in. There are moments where it seems that the drums lead because of their sheer force.
The vocals are ragged, almost torn, they’re strained to the max but in such a way that it’s not unpleasant to listen to. They leave you in awe. I don’t typically enjoy intense screaming of lyrics throughout songs entireties but this band has showcased how to properly execute it without being overbearing and without overwhelming the audience. Whether it’s the stylings of the screaming itself or how it blends into the rest of the music, I can’t say. All I can say is that raw emotion is thrust into every single note played and sung. It’s something the band clearly enjoys doing and their presence is well known once they step on stage. It’s not overwhelming or in your face, but the band isn’t afraid to get up in it.
The second act was Pyrrhon who blew the crowd out of the water. The sheer energy presented found a way to take over the room completely. They find a way to take death metal and turn it into an artwork that entrances you and leaves you wanting more after they’ve finished up their set. The movement across the stage, seeming minimal on House of TARG’s stage, was very forward and the body language emits intense emotion.
The drumming is aggressive, almost confrontational. It leaves you in absolute awe and lets you feel the intense emotion that may course through the band. It’s almost in disorder and sounds rather distressed but it’s certainly not at a tempo that just everyone can keep up with. Perfect for head banging, the beat slows down and speeds up, keeping it interesting and allowing those listening to really get a feeling for the bands style. The beats come off in quick succession one after another most time and it’s common to hear rolls on the snare drum.
Dylan’s guitar playing is dissonant and angry. The distorted and overdriven sound was a staple for this band. With controlled feedback to add to the messy sound, it really grabbed your attention and ripped you right out of any preconceived notions on what the band would sound like live. With heavy power chords and added tremolo it brought the guitar parts to life and almost embodied them as something otherworldly. It breaks order and creates a balanced chaos with the drums and vocals.
Doug the vocalist pours every ounce of his being into what he’s screaming and it shows. With the way he moves around to how he controls his screaming, it fall absolutely nothing short of impressive. High and low notes interlace and destroy every preconceived notion of what harmonies should be. His vocals are not meant for the background, they deserve the fullest and uttermost attention due to the sheer heavy and weighted vibe it gives off.
The bass is a distorted, disorganised mess that somehow ends up being unified with everything else. It’s assertive and demanding but doesn’t let down in the least. This component, tied in with the drums are what rattle the core and entrance you, leaving you wanting to hear more. The scales played are not simple but they’re played with such an air that it’s made to look almost effortless.
Next up was a band by the name of Yautja who originate from Nashville, Tennessee. Their sound dissonant in terms of instruments however when it comes to vocals, prepare to be swayed by the cloudy heaviness that they possess.
The guitar providing intensive and strong power chords that are part of a masterpiece of its own. No sound goes without purpose. Pushing boundaries with the much lighter contrast that the guitar provides to the vocals while maintaining a heavy presence impressed me to no end and will continue to beckon attention. It keeps you on your toes and doesn’t let the stressed feeling go all while holding its own unconventional structure. The guitar vibes with a whole different frequency and it sticks out.
The vocals take a drastically different turn. Deep, in your face, and raspy. The lead singers aren’t afraid to strain any vocal cords, or to scream their hearts out to the crowd that’s more than willing to listen to the beautifully constructed chaos. The songs are held together, it seems, by a thread. In this case it would be the vocals, placed in just the right places. Any sense of convention is otherwise completely obliterated.
Tremolo effects rang through the bassline without hinting at any ounce of mercy. It hits you in the face forcefully without even laying a finger on you. A strong prominent bassline is a good bassline to me, and even better the sloppier and more pronounced it is. It’s nothing short of impressive and captivating. It’s hard to follow so you just let yourself embrace it and listen. It rattled the floor, and there wasn’t part of me that could deny it. I wholeheartedly believed that being so close to the bassist along with amps and speakers would give me arrhythmia. The bass folds into each song, crashing into the guitars like a wave during a brutal storm.
The literal crashing is brought by the drums and creates the effect of everything nearly falling apart. It’s everything that you want to hear from the drums when immersing yourself in metal. Heavy hits falling onto the snares and toms, relentless crashing of the cymbals, and pure energy radiating off the drummer, it’s hard to ignore. While the drums intertwining with the guitar and bass parts makes the whole thing sound as if it’s imploding on itself, it holds it’s backbone and creates something the bassline can lean on without overpowering it.
Inspiration ripped from Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden, Montreal’s own The Great Sabatini took the stage and created a loud and fitting end to the high energy night. They incorporate different genres and roll it into what can only be described as a sludgy doom metal. With aspects of what’s considered a musical canon and heavier gauge strings for the guitars and bass, energetic, aggressive but warm drumming, and the riotous screaming, the members create a sound that while containing sporadic elements, is so solidly unified that it’s impossible not to listen to.
The guitar parts which are played by Rob and Sean challenge and push boundaries, and with their new material, which is yet to be released, you hear the distinct tones overlapping in a confusion of sound that one tries to make sense of. It pushes your ear and begs you to deconstruct it because it’s so masterfully done. The soloing that Rob brings forth is some of the work I admire most. It’s skillful, distraught and slurred together, full of life and soulful aggression. Keeping up with him is a task but he puts every ounce of his being into it. He pours his heart into it and you can tell that with every note he plays is his pride and joy.
People always say that there’s a sparkle in someone’s eye when they’re doing something they love, and that passion was definitely behind Rob’s eyes.
Sean pours his soul into his screams and he gives it his all. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and besides his riffs and enraged power chords, this is what gets the crowd going. He jumps right to it—cut the bullshit, this is what it’s about. The progression of the higher notes keeps the crowd on their toes and the contrast provided by Rob brings them back down. Personally, and this comes as a great shock believe me, I would pick seeing The Great Sabatini over Metallica in a heartbeat. It’s progressive, gritty, and grimy.
The drumming Steve provides is one that that leaves you with very high expectations for other drummers. He’s outstanding with incredible control over the sound he wishes to produce. Sometimes warm, other times cold, loud or toned down, he has total control. His drumming has character, almost alive in its own way and everything you thought you knew be damned. It was deafening and powerful, enforcing the message behind every song. It will not only blow your mind but also your eardrums. It’s just the right amount of hysterical and yet its incomparable to any other drummer I’ve seen or heard.
Joey might as well have bumped the bass up to an 11 because it’s dominating and rips your attention towards it whether it’s isolated or incorporated into the self-imploding sludge. The fact that it’s frenzied in most songs is what sets the tone and it truly adds depth to the performance. Beautifully channeled and timed, the bassline could do no wrong. It pushed and it pulled creating an individual soundscape that would be thoughtfully incorporated into the overall experience the band created as a whole.
If you asked me to come see a legendary band with you on a night where the four bands I spoke of were performing, I’d have to object. Shocked? So am I but they fall absolutely nothing short of talented and driven with a sound that will leave your ears ringing for days to come. They’re all deeply underappreciated bands that created vivid soundscapes that you’ll find yourself immersed in once you give them a listen.
When you see the familiar name on a concert poster stapled or taped to a street sign, take note when and where these bands are performing because I guarantee that you’re not going to regret it in the least bit. Your ears might object to it the next morning (and in the long run), but in the moment you’ll be wanting to hear more. There will always be Bandcamp, but trust me, no justice will be done to these wonderful bands. Their shows are a must.