It’s not every weekday that you see a music venue fill up with patrons, but the last Thursday a good-sized crowd at House of Targ. It’s no wonder, as the lineup was stacked and local psych-garage trio Organ Eyes were also releasing their new tape Daze Pace. This release, for me, was the focal point of the night, but Blonde Elvis and Hooded Fang wowed reckless late-night showgoers, myself included.
The show was co-presented by Arboretum Festival, Exclaim!, and Debaser, who are all trusted music masters in their own right. The night was pushed back a bit as the first opener, Blonde Elvis, got stuck in some pretty brutal traffic on their way from Toronto. Anyone who has traveled that stretch of the 401 knows that it can be a hellish few hours of driving, especially if things get slowed down by commuter traffic or a crash. We’re just glad they made it safe, and no one complained as one or two beers were consumed before the music started.
It wasn’t long before the Blonde Elvis took the stage and performed a quick but strong set. Since they were a bit late, lead singer Jesse James Laderoute made it clear that they would try to keep it going as they were tight for time. But that didn’t stop him from making light of the situation and joking around, making the crowd chuckle. They launched into their song “slow fall on egypt,” which absolutely blew me away. Laderoute’s vocals were bang-on, and he didn’t miss a note. Along with his other past project Young Mothers, he used to be involved with Slim Twig a few years back, and I can hear some of that sonic remainder in Blonde Elvis’s music. These guys are amongst a really great group of bands in Toronto, and are sure to keep achieving more success as time goes on. I really enjoyed their high energy set, and hope to see them in Ottawa again soon. I just wish I had seem them open of Thee Oh Sees last week in T.O.!
Local psych rockers Organ Eyes were up next, and it was a big night for them. Although not the headliners, they shared the glory because Thursday night was the tape release for their new album Daze Pace. They are one of the main reasons I Targ’d it up – I find Organ Eyes to be such a mystical, strange band in Ottawa. I mean that in the best way possible. The talented trio, made up of guitarist/vocalist Sam Pippa, bassist/vocalist Cam Steacy, and drummer Jon Bennet, are not the kind of group to settle on one sound or style. Coming off the release of their atmospheric album Visual Meetings in January 2014, Daze Pace seems like an opportunity for the band to experiment a little more and inject some rawness into the mix. Organ Eyes explored their lo-fi garage rock side with songs such as “Boca Breeze,” Spooky Cough,” and “Dog Gone,” but also stir things up with more melodic songs such as “Skinny Girl” and “Hardly Know Her.”
The set opened with an unreleased track called “Papavangelou,” and was comprised of most of the heavier garage tunes on the new album. After Cam gave Showbox a very nice shoutout, the band played my favourite song on the album, “Cave Song” (how did you know, Cam?). The deep, muffled bass line and tame verses exploded into a catchy and distorted chorus, all while flowing with bizarre lyrics from Cam. The song makes the listener feel like they’re spiralling downward as it progresses – and I love every second of it.
Organ Eyes closed out the set with another great tune called “Cocoon,” leaving us all wanting more. They certainly riled up the crowd and gained a few new fans at Targ, and hopefully sold lots of their really sweet neon green cassettes!
The final band to come on were the indie rockers from Toronto, Hooded Fang. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I hadn’t really heard them before, but myself and many others were really getting into it once the band hit their stride. They had a bit of guitar trouble during their second song, but luckily Jesse James Laderoute swooped in and saved the day by supplying his axe. The band jammed on during the transition and everything went smoothly. Their music is slightly disjointed, but has a really funky groove that any listener could get into. As the set went on, everyone seemed to ease up even more and get into the rhythm. I really enjoyed the tones and reverb of the guitar, it reminded me of that surf sound that I love so much with a hint of punk influences in there. The arrangements were captivating and the aesthetic of their music translated really well live, which was aided by the new sound system at Targ – I really noticed a difference in the overall audio quality from past performances during Hooded Fang’s set. I couldn’t stay the whole time, which was a bummer because I was really into their performance. But hey, unfortunately buses don’t run all night long!