I arrived just as Everett was starting their set. Co-pilots Elsa and Fraser comprised a different lineup from last time I saw them play, at Ottawa Explosion Weekend last year; where I think the band played as a 4-piece. Their sounds has changed considerably as well, filing things down to a slow-burning, atmospheric kind of droning grunge sound. Appearing cool as a cucumber, despite the past week’s controversy over the implications of the Queers’ show her petition to have the show cancelled (which it was, then soonafter was back on again), Elsa gave a shout out to her friends in Babely Shades, mentioning that things had been difficult for them in dealing with the backlash of harassment they are facing post-petition. She led the crowd in a rowsing chant of “Queer is beautiful!” and Everett played their last few songs. I enjoyed the set and I’m stoked for this band to record because they are preparing to soon (or so I’ve been told…).
The other bands were great too, and I’ll get to them in a moment. But first, I want to mention that right after Everett finished (in the seconds between when the band stopped and the house music came up), I heard someone yell from the back of the bar “At least The Queers are good!”. I looked back just in time to see the guy finishing the sentence then quickly turning back to whoever he was talking to, totally hiding from all the heads turning. Elsa fired back on the mic with “Get the fuck out.”
I don’t know if she found out who it was, and I don’t know this guy personally, but I recognize him from many other nights at The Dom, and he was in Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter (a 2001 Ottawa-made film, whose title is pretty self-explanatory). That heckle sounded to me like: “That sucked, and you suck.” Was he trying to say that she and her work are not welcome here? What did he mean by that? And what impact does this have on Elsa’s safety and that of her band and her collective? Or anyone else speaking out about marginalization and fighting for equality in our communities?
One thing I took away from the Making Safer Spaces panel talk (which was earlier this same day) was that changes have to come from all angles; not just from activists, artists and promoters in marginalized groups, but from everyone. Especially white people in positions of power or authority in the scene and the greater community. Part of what was discussed at the panel was Safe Space training for venue staff, as well as festival volunteers and other people working in nightlife and service industries. Of course, said staff would need to be open to it and genuinely supportive of the movement, and somehow I’m not sure this this heckler is quite there, but I try to think people like that are the exception and not the rule.
Something else discussed in the panel was the fact that businesses will always have fire exit signs, and warn patrons of wet floors, and that kind of thing. Why? For the safety of the people inside their establishments. So, then, it should follow that corresponding proactive measures ought to be developed and implemented to ensure their patrons’ safety from sexual violence and other forms of harassment and marginalization. Such programs could take example from the The Queer Mafia’s Safe(r) Spaces Policy, and they would be key components in spreading awareness of these issues and learning how to be proactive and constructive about them.
But this guy… just perpetuating the threatening, malign-infested attitude towards this marginalized group speaking out about their reality. Not cool.
Well, the show must go on, and up next was Boyhood. I’d only ever seen Boyhood as a solo performance where singer Caylie Runciman worked with a synth and few effects pedals (last year Boyhood played a Megaphono set in the Deifenbunker). But this was a 4-piece band, and a bigger sound than I’d heard from Boyhood before. It was kinda dark and dancy, melodic and a little manic in how they went from brighter sounding keys and effects to some creepier organ sounds. The creepy parts reminded me of the cheesy organ you’d hear on tapes or CD’s of Halloween Music, but they totally fit here and sounded rad.
Fet.Nat took a few minutes to get going, amidst a momentarily missing drummer and some difficulties with the PA, but they dove headlong into their set and their frenetic brand of spaz-jazz had people moving in no time. From a crowd-pleasing cowbell, to some impressive circular-breathing on a tiny soprano saxophone, this band is just on point. The sheer size of this sax would’ve been hilarious if this guy wasn’t wailing on it the way he was. A couple of times, he would just bust out these insane solos to transition between songs, while the guitarist and drummer held solid eye contact to stay in sync. This was my first time seeing them, and I’m not likely to miss them again.
Duchess Says closed the night and boy, did they deliver. I’d heard about this band being somewhat of a collective, rotating lineup over the years, and that the singer is also in Pypy. You should follow that link, seriously, Pypy are way cool. DS were awesome too! The singer’s energy was infectious and intense, slinking and dancing nearly the whole time. She struck the air, highlighting the accents and rhythms behind her, and just getting visibly stoked. Not just excitement, but as if she was actually a fire being stoked and growing more intense and captivating. Man, 80’s synths and dirty fuzz-bass guitar with a disco drum beat behind it is just irresistible. She even hopped offstage a couple of times to bounce around the crowd and get things going. During an instrumental breakdown, she got a large portion of the crowd to sit down on the floor as she pulled out a huge roll of plastic and proceeded to have audience members unroll it above themselves, all the way across the room. People started playing parachute with it (reminiscent of some elementary school games), but once the band kicked back in, and everyone jumped up dancing with the plastic catching the lights in every direction. It was just the best. Moments like that give me a chill sometimes, and this made the set for me.
So while we can certainly do without the trolls, all in all, this was a great show and a great night!