Spacers, Piper Maru, Piss Face and more sliced into day three of this year’s Sitting On The Outside Fest. The first gig of the Saturday was a matinee hosted at Funeral Home, a treasured house venue here in Ottawa. The space was warm and inviting, full of friendly familiar faces and the smell of barbecue from the backyard grill—a perfect afternoon for rockin’.
The basement crowded up as the fresh new punk posse Good-Sick got started. The band was formed here in Ottawa, though many members originated more in north-western Ontario. They’ve formed quite a presence here in the music scene already, this fest having been just their second time playing.
Good-Sick were lively and opinionated. Though punk is definitely the realm this band finds itself in, they have a pretty accessible sound. Elements of classic rock and even blues-rock seem to underlie. Exuberant singer Dawson Paulson let words out bluntly and clear, his erratic movements and character emitting a Stooges or Cramps sort of attitude. He spat out his lyrics, sometimes letting out squeaks at the end of phrases. Themes varied—some songs critiqued politics and slammed conformity, others spoke of dumpster diving and the art of doing-whatever-the-fuck-you-want. Heavy cymbal use by drummer Tyler Whelan sparked up their sound. The drums flew along, matching the thick beats of the bass drum with the mellow but dynamic sounds from bassist Erin Derikosis. The guitar too clung on to the instrumentals with simple riffs and a bright, distorted tang. There would be the occasional slip up or technical difficulty, but it was easily dismissed (especially, and impressively, since both bassist Erin and guitarist Cameron Dunnet were recent beginners at their instruments). These musicians are young, talented, and have some things to say. Good-Sick is one to look out for!
Charismatic locals Liquid Assets were up next. Each song of the set was solid and tied together through each familiar and choppy riff. Scott’s guitar was glimmering, and contrasted heavily knit palm muting with piercing feedback and lilting solos. He moved as he played, swaying back and forth with his guitar and at one point, sitting on top of vocalist Felix (who was already rolling around on the basement floor at that point). Felix contorted and flailed around as he pushed each unintelligible lyric from the top of his throat. Vocals were corrosive and slurred, stirring up thoughts of bands like Dawn of Humans or Gas Rag. They gurgled like the bass, which was grainy and thudded with each pluck. Britt’s sound was firm and gushed tones of brown and orange, her bass really acting as the charge of the band. The music was further solidified by Kieran’s drums, mostly the snare who’s sound cracked each second, making itself well known in the space. It was his agility along with the overall spark and enthusiasm of Liquid Assets that got the people pumped up. Not to mention, as per tradition, the two guest vocalists who leapt up on stage for this set.
Sudbury’s PISS FACE started with a quaking mass of noise. The noisy hard-core crew had released their demo “Gay Agenda” just days prior, and we were more than ready to hear it in person. The bass crept in first, moody and gravelly, vibrating in every bone of your body. It’s devouring and yellow-tainted sound swallowed the guitar, which on top of everything was so distorted it almost dissolved away. Sometimes, higher bass tones would ring out, leaving an emptier space for the guitar to fill. The two together formed super intimidating riffs. Tempo picked up quickly, moving from the steady wash of the cymbals to the briskness of the high hat and snare. Bodies began shifting in the crowd; shoulders bumped and arms shoved as the music sped up. The drums were sort of drowned out and distant, forcing you to dig around through the music. This however added to PISS FACE’s hollowed and insidious quality of sound. The vocalist, somehow sporting a dope pink furry coat despite it being 25 degrees, had a snarl of a voice reminiscent of Lumpy from Lumpy and the Dumpers. Words sounded gnarly and twangy but equally robotic, thanks to the delay and looping effects flowing through the mic. The gritty punk instrumentals mixed with the spacey vocals had a refreshing and attention grabbing sound. To say the least, I was far from pissed off.
Back again since their last visit in March, Piper Maru was ready to knock some socks off yet again. The Toronto bratty punks erupted into their set, their riffs bass-heavy and plain mean. Guitarist Adam jammed away. Their guitar was chaotic, decompressing into a frenzied, mangled mess during verses before Adrian’s bass tugged it back into crazy heavy or chuggy riffs. They would play with the audience’s reflexes, shifting from super rapid, head-banging friendly riffs to the rare plunging breakdown. Singer Andie used the space well, roaming across the floor and into the front of the crowd. Their vocals were unfortunately hard to hear, but you could make out the occasional lyric on anti-establishment or anti-racism expressed with full force in high-pitched screams. Words often escaped their lips sarcastically, in a way that ridiculed the subjects of the songs. They sounded fed up and frustrated, yet fun as heck all at once. Drummer Dean used every part of the drum set. His fills were ferocious and fast and youthful, taking hold of the other instruments and crushing them under the volume of each strike. The cymbals tended to mimic the pure havoc of the guitar, while the floor tom supported the bass in slower parts. Piper Maru were explosive act, and definitely a gem of Ontario hard-core. Only complaint I have is the lack of lyrical X-Files references.
Also returning was Spacers out of Montreal, who were last to play this matinee. Spacers seamlessly blended together d-beats and heavy breakdowns. They felt jagged and vile, the vocals spitting out into the faces of the crowd. The singer’s voice would roughly pair up with the guitar, each word coming out like a punch in the gut; an evil barking tone crawling from the pit of the stomach. Slight delay let the voice linger. The drummer drummed a dense d-beat on the toms and snare. It galloped heavily with each changing riff before switching to waves of cymbals. The bass would steer each breakdown (and alas, the moshing commenced). It overpowered the crunchy chimes of the guitar. Feedback would seep through occasionally, sharp and stinging. The instrumentals all sort of compacted together into one bulk of a beast that would probably beat you up if you got on its bad side.
People lingered around Funeral Home after the gig, finishing what was left of the vegetarian hot-dogs, and getting pumped for what Sitting On The Outside had planned for the evening’s events…