One of the best thing about the holidays is bringing friends and family together. The Centretown Recording Alliance did just that Thursday night, gathering bands and fans from punk rock to garage rock to metal. The annual holiday bash featured seven bands in just under three and a half hours, and it was great. Not only did they bring a lot of people together, but in doing so they raised money for the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre, a wonderful holiday gesture.
Getting the ball rolling on this night was a new band called The Stuff, a four-piece fun garage rock band. Before even playing a song, one of the guitarist/singers “This is our first show and maybe our last show, or maybe not.” I certainly hope it is not their last show as I really dug their set and their sound. On a very snowy night they played a sweet song about being in love with the summer. They capped of their set with “Christmalloween” which is a modified version of the great song “What ‘cha Gonna Wear, Wolf?” which they wrote for the recording alliance’s halloween challenge. Looking forward to more stuff from The Stuff.
Next it was time for devil horns and headbanging as Thunder Uncle brought the metal. Thunder Uncle is just one of the hundred bands that Jon Kiely plays in, but instead of playing drums in this band as he often does, he takes on lead vocals and plays a flying-v guitar. The band brought a dose of metal to the festivities and did a damn good job. I liked their track “Paper Tiger” at the end of their set.
Bringing the punk back was one of my favourite local bands going right now, Fresh Hell. They played an awesome set full of solid tracks of their debut album We Never Sleep such as “Old Sheets,” “Things Go Away” and “Home.” Christmas came a little early this year as the band played some of their new material for us and now I am all excited for new Fresh Hell. They closed with their kick-ass track “Surrounded” as many of us yelled along at the front of the stage. As the band packed up and left the stage, there was an unexpected performance. Surprises, which consists of Corey’s girlfriend Meghan on guitar and good friend Laura from Jonathan Becker and the North Fields, on accordion. They performed “Louisiana Man” by Lucinda Williams adding a little country flare to the air (video here). Sure hope there are more surprises in our future.
Things then got a hardcore as Slim and Popular took the stage. Formed by veterans of the scene the band is super tight and play really really fast. The track that really stuck as they slammed through the most high tempo set of the set, was “We Don’t Want This World.” This was my first time seeing Slim and Popular and it will certainly not be my last.
It wasn’t all fun and joy on this night though. It was the night we said goodbye to the Mnemonics. The powerpop quartet capped off their time as a band with a stellar performance full of songs off their 2014 release Too Late To Get Loud. I am sorry to see them go, but I can take solace that some of the members play in other kick-ass bands and will probably go on and form new awesome bands as well. Cheers gentlemen.
The Lindbergh Babies took the stage after the Mnemonics to pick us all back up. They are a female fronted group that played a fast-paced punk which is just on the edge of some metal stuff. They are another band I had somehow never seen perform and it was a great time. The band also featured Jon Kiely again, back behind the drums rocking out. My favourite tune from their performance was the rocking “You Don’t Know.”
The final band on the bill was the Steady Shakes. The garage-rock band are great and the lead singer, Cameron Lydall’s voice really stands out and sticks with me. It has that real punk rock rasp that I love from the old school punk bands I grew up discovering. Steady Shakes are another great local act who released some sweet music this year. I should also mention that Ian, the bassist of one of longest-running punk bands The Creeps, also plays bass for Steady Shakes. Their five-song demo will take you back in time to 80s punk rock, in sound and lyrical content. They are a must see and must listen for sure.
Just when we thought it was time to go home and call it a night, around 12:50 to be precise, Chris Cook took to the stage to say thank you. But he was not alone on stage, he was joined by Jon Kiely, Mel Sturk and Dave Banoub. Yup you read correctly, The Allrights did a little one song reunion song. They played crowd favourite “Little Black Book,” and sent us all on our way on a high note. What a night!