By Matthew Stella
Phil (aka Robots! Everywhere!!) sent me a text this afternoon asking if I wanted to go to a show and BBQ at Gabba Hey! (“Ottawa’s underground hipster music hot spot that almost no one knows about”). It sounded like something I’d like to do, but I had to work, so I declined. When the show got moved to the exact time my shift ended, and with Gabba Hey! (located at the once reviled City Centre that has found new life as a hipster hot spot) only a 30-second bike ride from work I thought I’d be an asshole if I didn’t show up to see Phil.
Expecting to see throngs of people, reporters and celebrities, now that the Ottawa Citizen had broke the story of Gabba Hey!’s existence, I arrived to see Phil and a couple other people having a chat. I was confused for a second, was City Centre over? Had fickle hipsters already abandoned their hot spot now that it had gone mainstream?It was probably none of those things. Just a hastily planned afternoon show on a really hot day. Gabba Hey! (I’m sure) still remains the coolest venue in the city (Disclaimer: I haven’t been to House of Targ yet) and the Ottawa Citizen will continue to use the word “hipster” in place of the word “new.”
Before the show everyone cooked up whatever meat, or meat-shaped vegetarian items they had brought. Phil had the inspired idea to buy, instead of hot dog buns, those buns that are completely covered in baked-on cheese. As Ottawa’s foremost host of food-based house shows, Phil has proven time and time again that he is second to none in Ottawa’s music scene when it comes to BBQing. I hope the Ottawa Citizen does a profile on The Deck Behind Phil’s house: “Ottawa’s next hipster hot spot for gourmet BBQ cuisine and barely rehearsed drum machine punk rock.”
When it came time to play Robots! Everywhere!! did not disappoint, treating the dozen or so people in attendance/bands waiting for their rehearsal space to open to a performance of his 2012 EP in its entirety (does it still count as an EP if it has 9 songs?). R!E!!, ever the performer, was in top shape, high kicking and jumping around the loading dock in which he was sequestered. The crowd chose to sit back and the end of the parking lot and heckle him from about 75 feet away. Nevertheless Phil still gave it his all, hitting easily 80% of the notes in his songs and still encouraging call and response exchanges from the distant crowd.
Toward the end of the show about half of the crowd distracted by a really cute puppy whose name, I believe, was Gus. It was certainly not the way I expected to spend my Sunday afternoon, but I was glad that this was the way it turned out.