Arboretum Festival: Ought, Fresh Snow, Blue Angel and Freelove Fenner @ House of TARG

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Photo by Jeff Watkins

From a church at the last show to a pinball and pierogi-filled punk basement venue, Arboretum brought the weird with Ought and more at House of TARG.

Montréal’s Ought channelled the ghosts of 80s New Wave and post-punk past to deliver a great set Thursday night. The four-piece sounded great and were thrilled to be there, constantly mentioning how awesome the bill was. Sometimes sounding like bands of the Gang of Four variety (and I say that as a compliment) Ought had my head bobbing along all show. The songs that really stuck were “The Weather Song,” which really had me travelling back decades to the New Wave era, “More Than Any Other Day,” which the singer talks more than he sings and it completely captivated me, and lastly “Habit” with the grabbing lyrics and vocals that reminded me of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Glad I stuck around late to check these guys out, they did not hit the stage until around 1 a.m.

Fresh Snow delivering a "soundgasm" at House of Targ in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
Fresh Snow delivering a “soundgasm” at House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins

Blowing us all away before Ought was the soundgasm that is Fresh Snow. From Toronto, the organized auditory chaos that this four-piece creates is incredible. There is no singer, but don’t think this is your grand-mother’s instrumental music. From twisting pedal knobs with a stir of just the right madness to slamming guitar strings with a closed fist as the momentum of the song mounts, Fresh Snow transported us to another musical state. The set had my ears constantly asking for more, even in the distorted craze of their finale. As they walked off stage they left their guitars on, with one hanging on an amp, strings facing in on the amp and the other guitar and bass face down on the pedals, just to keep our ears ringing. Their performance last year at Ottawa Explosion was one of the shows of the year and they certainly did not disappoint this time around.

Blue Angel haunting the crowd at House of Targ in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
Blue Angel haunting the crowd at House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins

The girls from Blue Angel took the stage in black cult-like robes and masks that reminded of geisha, but with a single tear on each. It was really trippy to watch the set without seeing their lips move, especially on the “You Me,” where each member sings or screams at some point of the song. There is something very unsettling of hearing a sound but not really seeing the source. They played a set that featured older songs, such as one of my favourites “Don’t Want Need To” and a bunch of new tracks I had never heard. I am really impressed with how far this band has come from the wall of noise and yells I first saw at Babylon earlier this year. They sounded great, a lot crisper and really had me hooked. And in random news, they exited the stage to the sound of bagpipes.

Freelove Fenner playing House of Targ in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins
Freelove Fenner playing House of TARG in Ottawa during Arboretum 2014. Photo by Jeff Watkins

Getting the night going was Freelove Fenner. The three-piece was the lightest of the bands on the bill, but that is not to say they did not fit in. They had just the right amount of weird and cool guitar. The sound emanating from the guitar on “Mary” was one that tickled my ears just right. Another track that really had me going was “Vicky,” also a girl’s name, maybe a pattern is forming here. Lead singer and bassist, Caitlin Loney, commented on the hot sweaty atmosphere that is TARG. “C’est chaud ici. My hair is getting all puffy, how do you guys keep it straight?” I recommend losing most of it…

Another great night at Arboretum which set the stage for a ruckus weekend!

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