Moroccan Sun, Grounders and The Zolas’ Dance off at Zaphod’s

the zolas

Hometown heroes Moroccan Sun gave Zaphod’s a stadium-worthy show as the first opening act for The Zolas this past Friday night. Known for their infectious energy, the 5-piece alternative rock band definitely did not disappoint, and as someone who’s never actually seen them play live, I was wildly impressed and unable to keep my feet on the ground. Still hot off their debut Moroccan Sun EP release, the band kept us on our toes with their driving beats. If you were there and loved what you heard, or have yet to check out this awesome local band, their EP is available on Bandcamp – seriously, download it now.

Toronto-based indie pop quintet Grounders (minus guitarist Evan Lewis) were the second in a phenomenal lineup of Canadian bands, and took over the stage like psychedelic hipsters from space. Kurt Marble (drums) and Mike Searle (bass) were all grins and wobbly dance moves, while singer and guitarist Andrew Davis gazed soulfully into the crowd as he crooned, “Where do you go? Waiting around, where do you go from here?” during the chorus of “Secret Friend,” off their self-titled GROUNDERS LP.

Davis’ eye contact became borderline uncomfortable as he showed off his rock-hard abs to catcalling fans. If the almost-strip show wasn’t enough to win the crowd over, Davis walked off the stage to grab a guy’s cellphone mid-set and congratulated him on the lucky woman who I assume was on the other end of the line. One thing’s for sure: these guys are a riot and everyone should experience their out-of-this-world synth-pop sound at least once before their legs give out and they’re no longer able to dance.

10:00pm finally came around and Vancouver natives The Zolas made their way out of the deep blue fog and onto the stage to open with “Molotov Girls,” a single off their latest LP, Swooner. After gracing the room with two newer tracks, lead singer Zachary Gray greeted the crowd with an exuberant and overwhelmed “Holy shit Ottawa! HI!” He then proceeded to advise everyone at the front that he would only give a maximum number of high-fives (so hopefully y’all made ‘em count). Though the band played many of their new songs, older fans were stoked to hear “Strange Girl,” and even more so when we were asked to clap along until the clapping got awkward (and it did). “You guys need to get frothy enough for Dwight to stage dive, because he’s always wanted to do that,” Zach shouted, and the crowd obliged during “Swooner,” prompting bassist Dwight Abell to ditch his bass and fling himself into the roaring dance party (sorry we dropped you).

We were treated to a sing-along during “You’re too Cool,” an old classic off The Zolas’ debut album The Great Collapse, as Zach conducted the band and the crowd from a whisper to an explosive “I CAN TELL WE’LL NEVER BE SAVED, TIL THE WALLS FALL DOWN.” The crowd wasted no time demanding an encore, as they literally pushed the band back on stage “like the surf rejecting the surfer,” as Gray so eloquently put it. The tri-song reprise was an Ancient Mars special, with “Observatory,” “Knot in my Heart,” and finally “Escape Artist” to end the night on a highly emotional note. “I wanna come back here, this is special,” said Zach as he played the opening chords to “Escape Artist.” Ottawa loves you guys, please come back soon.

Check out Spectrasonic’s upcoming shows in Ottawa here.