When I first moved to Ottawa, long before I started this website, I had just finished a long and (socially) time-consuming graduate program. Essentially I had not taken a break from school in almost 20 years, and summer was really the only time I’d venture out and catch live shows here and there growing up. Plus, I grew up in London, Ontario, which wasn’t the easiest scene to crack and be in the know about. Thus, I made a point to really try and discover some new spots in my new hometown of Ottawa. This story isn’t a show review or anything like that, it’s just a memory placed within the context of a new kid in town looking for identity, community, and some new music.
When I learned about Attack in Black (Dine Alone Recs), I was really stoked to hear that they were from Welland, Ontario. That’s a pretty small place, and you don’t hear of many bands coming from the periphery like that. Before their quiet demise in 2010, AIB got a few really good records under their belt and made a lasting impression on many of us.
They played Mavericks in May of 2009, and that was the first show I ever went to at that venue. That was a big deal to me, because I’d been to Bluesfest, outdoor concerts, and shows like that, but hadn’t broken into the small venues of Ottawa yet. The vibe of Mavericks sort of reminded me of Call The Office back in London, although the layouts were completely different. Semi-grimy, brick walls, and an assortment of concert-goers that despite having different music tastes and backgrounds, came together and fit nicely together.
Opener Shotgun Jimmie drew in the sparse crowd, and although I didn’t know any of his music at the time, I remember really enjoying that man and his guitar on stage.
When AIB came on, it was like a new door opened for me. At times, the band’s set was chaotic and in your face – you could feel the emotion and influence of the gods of punk’s past in their music. However, there was also a counterbalance, where Daniel Romano’s vocals maintained a feeling of ease and restraint. I remember thinking to myself that there was such a great contrast between the gritty, garage-tinted element with the melodic, folk-inspired side of their music. To me, AIB was on the path that Constantines and Weakerthans traveled before them, and it’s a damn shame it had to end. But for me, it was just the start.
Although the band has been on hiatus since 2010 (whatever that means), all of the members have moved on to do great things. Daniel Romano and Ian Kehoe teamed up with Constantines guitarist Steve Lambke to start the label You’ve Changed Records in 2008, and Romano also collaborated with Fredrick Squire and Julie Doiron. Guitarist Spencer Burton released Eulogy of Her and Her and Her under his solo side project moniker Grey Kingdom in 2011, and bassist Ian Kehoe also performs as Marine Dreams.