It was only appropriate that they’re touring their new album called Be More Kind, as the British singer-songwriter spent much of the night emphasizing the importance of looking out for one and other and the greatness of community. He kicked off the set with the title track of the new album, followed by another new song “1933.” If fans were nervous that the show would only be new material, they quickly had that fear quashed as the band launched into “Get Better” and “Recovery.” While they did play several more songs off of Be More Kind, they also explored the rest of his catalogue playing “The Way I Tend to Be,” “Vital Signs,” “Wessex Boy,” and the awesome “The Ballad of Me and My Friends.”
Turner knows how to put on a show and truly deliver for the crowd. I mean, he should by now given that this was his 2242nd show. He did his usual speech about how punk shows have no rules except two, don’t be an asshole and if you know the words you have to sing a long.
He also specifically took the time to dedicate “The Next Storm” to the victims of the recent tornadoes, which has the perfect inspirational lines for the situation: “Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed… I don’t want spend the whole of my life indoors, laying low, waiting on the next storm.”
He isn’t just about words kind words though, he is also about putting on a damn good show with his actions. Not only was he sweating through his shirt almost instantly due to all his running and jumping around, most of which with a guitar strapped to his chest, he also took the time to go down to the crowd for some sing a longs and encouraged fans to start a circle pit at one point. All of this culminated in the encore when the band played “Four Simple Words” and Turner left his guitar behind to go stand on the crowd and then crowd surf his way to the “best dancer in Ottawa.” Once there he slow danced with, then moshed with fans while singing only to once again be crowd surfed back to the stage when the music picked back up.
Whether you love Be More Kind and Frank Turner’s current musical direction or not, it is impossible not to be blown away and have a blast at the live performance.
Sam Coffey and his band of merry men known as the Iron Lungs have come a long way from when I saw them a few years back at House of TARG, where Sam puked off the front of the stage after rolling around in the crowd too much. They are a pretty professional looking band now, still all rocking their matching jean jackets, although this time around the front man opted out of the uniform and sported something that can only be described as a cross between a luchador outfit and Liberace. They also deliver so many cliche rock n’ roll moves, but they come off more as satirical and lighthearted, which makes them a lot of fun.
Since signing on with Dine Alone Records their tunes can be heard all over the radio, much to my delight and obviously much of the crowd. It is not every show where you see so many people signing along and bopping up and down to the opener. To top everything off, they treated us to their now signature dueling guitar solos on a double neck guitar. Even after seeing it done several times, and not really being a fan of guitar solos, I still find it super cool.
Check out the great photos below of all three bands, thanks to the great work of our photographer Aidan Thatcher.
Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs headlined a great show at the Dominion Tavern Wednesday night which featured opening sets by locals Saint Clare and Mushy Gushy.
Sam took to the stage wearing his standard issue jean vest with Sam Coffey & the Iron Lung patch on the back over a a bedazzled jumpsuit, which I later learned was actually part of an Ace Frehley costume. The band is touring celebrating the release of their new self-titled album which they released after signing with Dine Alone Records.
They opened with two tracks off the excellent new record, “Ragnarock” and “Judy.” I love the new stuff, I really do, but was very glad to see they didn’t forget about their first album and the song that made me fall in love with them a few year ago, “Gates of Hell.” The track is a kick-ass rock n’ roll song with a sprinkle of old school, some claps and sing-a-longs, it is the near-perfect song.
Another highlight of their set was their song “Voicemail,” which is about Ottawa’s very own Gary Voicemail aka Ian Manhire of such great bands as The White Wires, The Sedatives, and more. If you have never seen these guys, shame on you. They are a great rock n’ roll band through and through and even better guys.
Same Coffey and the Iron Lungs rocking out at The Dominion Tavern in Ottawa.
Setting the stage and filling the stage was Saint Clare, a 7-piece band from Ottawa. The band has been making waves in Ottawa with their energetic live performance and great releases. They have such a dynamic horn section (sax and trombone) which adds so much to their music, especially on their 2016 single “Cheatin’.” And I don’t know about you guys, but I just love watching a trombone player strum along like a guitar when they aren’t playing.
Taking the importance of the horns even further is their physical arrangement on stage, which had the brass right next to the singer/guitarist, one on each side, putting them at the forefront. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that anywhere else. The band as a whole is great and I love what they are doing, but I must say the brass really makes them stand out in the crowded rock n’ roll world. There were definitely some new songs during their set so hopefully we will get something new soon to sink our ears into.
Saint Clare bringing the brass and the fuzz at The Dominion Tavern in Ottawa.
Opening the night was Mushy Gushy, a four-piece butt-rock band who are also from Ottawa. I’ll never truly know what butt rock is but Mushy Gushy make you want to bob and dance on every track. I mean this as a compliment—they were the perfect opening band and got the energy pumping. They did not waste any time playing three songs straight without breaks to get everyone in the zone. They then took a very quick break to say who they were and plug their new tape called More Butter and then quickly got back to business playing the wicked track “Trap” off of said tape. Not a lot of talk and a lot of good rock is key when opening a show. Also it is hard to go wrong with songs named “Fucking Awesome” and “Bodybreak.” Eat your heart out Joanne McLeod and Hal Johnson.
Mushy Gushy kicking things off at The Dominion Tavern in Ottawa.
Wednesday night was a rowdy night where three excellent Dine Alone Records bands, The Flatliners, The Dirty Nil and Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs, rolled through Ottawa and rocked Babylon Nightclub.
Anyone who reads my articles enough knows the importance of The Flatliners to myself and to Ottawa Showbox. They are one of the reasons Matias brought me on board at Showbox and we have shared many great times listening and seeing them play live. This night was no exception, with the punk rock trio from Toronto reaching deep into their repertoire, but also rocking tracks from their new album Inviting Light. The diversity in their set is key when you realize that the band has been together for 15 years and could easily decide to ignore their earlier work from when they were teenagers. As a long time fan, I know I appreciated it immensely when they played songs like “July!August!Reno!” off their 2007 release The Great Awake.
While some fans screamed out for older tracks, or yelled requests for some ska, most of the crowd was just dialed into the true passion and energy that is a Flatliners set. Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with The Flatliners is Beau’s Brewing, which was flowing all night and whose reps and brewers were very present. If you’ve never sang along at the top of your lungs with a sweaty Tim Duncan, you haven’t lived. Be sure to read Matias’ in-depth interview with Chris Cresswell here.
Setting the stage for The Flatliners were The Dirty Nil, a headliner-caliber band in its own right and who most recently won a Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year. It’s not everyday you see a show where all three acts have headlined your town and tours across the country. When the band took to the stage, lead singer and guitarist Luke Bentham walked in with a big sign that read “HOTTAWA.” I think they were happy to be here. The Dirty Nil played their high energy grunge-inspired punk rock with conviction and style. With perfectly placed bubble gum bubbles for dramatic effect, Luke always looks likes he is having a blast. Bass player Ross Miller however often looks really intense during songs like he belongs in a metalcore band. That’s not a criticism at all, it’s just quite the contrast from the smiling, bubble-gum blowing going on on the other side of the stage. They played a new song “Avidazen” which was quite the rocking slow burner of a track. Dundas, Ontario must be so proud of these boys as they just keep getting bigger and better.
Opening the night was Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs from Toronto. Now here is a band out there having fun and taking names. The group all rock sleeveless jean jackets with their logo on the back and never stop smiling. They play up beat and lively rock n roll that will take you back a few generations and might even make you want to do the twist at times. They have a new album coming out soon and the new tracks sound great and are just as much fun. New songs like “Talk 2 Her” are definitely a step in the right direction.
They also played my favourite track “Gates of Hell” which just has every a great song needs from gang vocals, infectious sing a long moments, build-ups and claps. If you’ve never seen Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs play, you might not know that one of the guitarists plays a double neck guitar which usually leads to a great two man solo (can it still be called a solo if there are two?) – one on the 6 strings and the other on the 12 -neck. I also think this might be the only time I’ve seen the band play where Sam didn’t puke or roll around in the crowd… it was still great, but just saying.
TV FREAKS broke through the static and kicked off Ottawa Explosion Weekend with a bang outside of Saw Galley on June 19th.
Fresh off rocking out at North by North East (NxNE) in Toronto, TV FREAKS were tight, noisy, energized and a force to be reckoned with. With members of Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs standing in the front; dancing, singing along and crowd surfing the lead singer, TV FREAKS played an explosive set. They are a great mix of garage sound with hardcore intensity, and some pretty sick dance moves. They played some great tunes like “Spilt Milk’’ and “Mall Punk.’’ TV FREAKS were the perfect band to headline the first night of Ottawa Explosion Weekend, which saw an awesome crowd show up.
Montréal’s Bummer played before TV FREAKS and the trio really impressed me. The lead singer/guitarist was rocking out with his curly hair flying all over the place. Check out their tracks “Kids on the Run’’ and “Reminder,’’ they got me moving.
The ghost Elvis or Buddy Holly must have been next door at the jail hostel and possessed, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs. These old school rock n rollers with a dash of punk twist made me want to do the twist and shout. Three mics for six people, no problem, they just shared or in the case of the drummer and bass player, they just yelled out the words from a far. I loved there set and really liked the tracks “Lose that Bitch’’ and “What Have I Become.’’ To top it all off the keyboard player’s grandparents, great aunt, aunt and uncle showed up… most punk rock people in town.
The local portion of the evening was provided by Uranium Comeback and Black Tower. Uranium Comeback were introduced as a band who has only played 12 shows ok 6 years. Their set of upbeat punk was very fun and made me want to dance and tap my toes. Songs “Walking’’ and “Out of time’’ really stuck out for me. I hope they start doing more shows. Black Tower were a female lead metal and punk trio. I really got into the intros of a few of their songs, made me miss my long hair. Also missing his long hair was the drummer who half way through the set took off his huge black hair wig to reveal his bald head. Nothing wrong with a chrome dome brother, we save a bunch of money on haircuts and shampoo.
Emmanuel Sayer, one of the organizers, capped off the night by saying, “thanks for coming out everyone… we have five more days of this and it will only get worse.’’ His laughter was met with the crowd chanting “Let’s get worse! Let’s get worse!’’ I am sure there are a ton of great performances left among the 90+ bands yet to perform.
Day one is in the books. If you missed out on the fun, don’t let it happen again. Check out the festival schedule here.