Toronto’s gritty punk rock trio School Damage returned to Ottawa’s Dominion Tavern on October 4 to cap off a brief Canadian tour with Italian punk pals Ratbones.
Opening for Ratbones and School Damage were veteran rockers The Creeps (who’ll be headlining another show for Ottawa Showbox later this month at SAW Gallery) and Ottawa’s pop-punk band NECK—who recently released a split E.P. with Ratbones after a tour of Europe last year.
Brad Manners, Jon Cabatan and new drummer Dennis Lee (previously of Montreal’s BOIDS) describe their new album as something of a testament to the annoyance of aging. According to front man Brad Manners: “It’s about not being where you thought you’d be at a certain age in life: with what you have or haven’t accomplished.”
School Damage’s first full-length album Battered Lives – released back in 2016 – was a hell of a listen. Hello, Cruel World offers up much of the same self-deprecating silliness—with just enough angst and relatability to keep people listening.
All four bands served up high energy sets October 4 in Ottawa fueled by plenty of beer, angst and cursing. Likely the most eventful point in the night was when some actual skateboarding happened below The Dom’s stage during Ratbones’ upbeat 2013 jam on the subject: Sk8boarding To Hell.
School Damage recently released a video for their new track I Don’t Like What I’ve Become—delivering a similar DIY feel to their 2013 video for Checking Out off Battered Lives. This track (the second off their new album Hello, Cruel World) is playful. The further listeners progress through Hello, Cruel World, the deeper the social and political messages get.
“I’d say Hello, Cruel World is a tad more mature and poignant than our older stuff,” Brad Manners says. “Stranger Fruits, Foreign Policy, and Seen You in the Obits are about everything from poverty, to the hypocrisy of our rich white political figures, to missing and murdered Indigenous womxn and girls, to preventable deaths caused by the opioid crisis.”
Hailing from the northern coastal town of Genoa, Ratbones call themselves “an Italian tribute to the Ramones.” Despite what they’d describe as “significantly colder weather” (insert pre-winter Ottawan eye roll here) the band says this their latest Canadian tour was a dream come true: “We had the chance to play the best venues in front of the best crowds with the bands we love the most. RATBONES + NECK + SCHOOL DAMAGE + THE CREEPS + VAPIDS = FAMILY.”
If you missed this show and craving more punk rock in your life, be sure to join Ottawa Showbox at the newly renovated SAW Gallery (67 Nicholas in downtown Ottawa) on October 19 for The Creeps’ 20th anniversary show! They’ll be diving into their expansive catalogue while celebrating two full decades as a band. Click here for more info.