Toronto surf-punks Goodbye Honolulu headlined a beach party at Ottawa’s House of TARG Friday night.
Lisa Leblanc’s set at the 27 Club was rife with French-language sing-alongs, heavy metal covers, and odes to stolen cars, dive bars, cowboys, and Kraft Dinner.
The Beaches delivered a high-octane set of glam rock at the Bronson Centre this Saturday – and in return, they left with an autographed picture of eighties sitcom star Tony Danza.
“We have this weird thing in our rider [where we request] every venue provide a signed picture of Tony Danza,” guitarist Kylie Miller explained, proudly brandishing the photo. The Bronson Centre was apparently the first venue to actually come through.
The offering was deemed acceptable, and the crowd was rewarded with a raucous performance of the band’s latest single “Fascination,” a giddy new wave rocker about obsession and public transportation.
The Beaches, named for their Toronto neighbourhood, are known for their glam style and smart, relentlessly catchy rock songs.
Often lauded for their sharp song-writing, the group is absolutely incredible live, their sets allowing each member to show off their stellar musicianship, distinctive style, and electric stage presence.
Lead singer/bassist Jordan Miller, dressed in an Elvira-style black gown, was equal parts alluring and irreverent, while her sister and bandmate Kyle Miller revelled in rock riffs and shredding solos. Keyboardist Leandra Earl, clad in a head-to-toe red jumpsuit, danced across the stage whenever she could be liberated from her instrument, and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel bashed relentlessly on her kit, stage lights flashing off her glittery beaded top.
Opening with rock chick empowerment anthem “Back of My Heart,” the group followed up with barnburners “Moment” and “Let Me Touch.” Next up was quirky single “T-Shirt,” in which Miller saluted a lover’s discarded tee and touted her membership in the “Itty-Bitty Titty Committee.”
Thundering anthem “Gold,” which is as close to arena rock as The Beaches get, led into their signature cover of The Ronette’s “Be My Baby.” Next up was pop-punky “Loner,” followed by sultry torch song “Highway 6.” The set’s sole slow song, the ballad allowed Jordan Miller to show off her vocal range as she belted out the lamenting lyrics.
Another highlight was an eerie cover of “Laid” by Britpop band James, which had Kylie Miller transforming the American Pie theme into a spooky dirge.
The Beaches concluded with their chilly kiss-off “Boy Wonder,” before closing with the adrenaline rush of “Late Show.” As a bonus, the band encored with a fun cover of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi,” before wrapping up with pop sugar rush “Sweet Life.”
The Beaches last played Ottawa this past May; Saturday’s show was a triumphant return.
Toronto stoner-punks Goodbye Honolulu got the crowd going with a selection of distortion-drenched party anthems. With surf-rock hooks underlaying distorted riffs and shouted vocals, the quirky band was a perfect complement to The Beaches.
Interestingly enough, members of the two groups attended high school together in Toronto. “Oh yeah, we got some dirt on them,” teased guitarist Emmett Webb, before adding, “Just kidding, they were great.”
On stoner jams like “Back To Me,” “Where You Wanna Go,” and “Codeine,” Webb traded instruments and vocal duties with bandmates Jacob Switzer and Fox Martindale. It was up to drummer Max Bornstein to keep the show on track, oftentimes interrupting Switzer and Webb’s free-flowing banter. Goodbye Honolulu’s mellow stage presence and anything-goes attitude (midway through the show, Webb paid a fan to buy him a shot) were a fitting complement to the band’s tightly-written pop-punk.
Their nonchalant attitude is reflected in songs like “Bloody Hands” and set-closing “Typical,” which are quite witty and well-crafted underneath layers of fuzz. Don’t expect the guys of Goodbye Honolulu to boast about their songcraft, though.
“The Beaches write our songs,” jokes a self-deprecating Webb. “They give us the bad ones.”
Line-up: Goodbye Honolulu/ The Beaches
Venue: The Bronson Centre, Ottawa ON
Date: Dec. 1/2018
Synth-rockers Dear Rouge played a killer show at Ottawa’s Bronson Centre this weekend.
Mixing slick pop songcraft with pure rock’n’roll energy, the Juno-winners delivered with a mesmerizing set of stylish new wave numbers, epic electro anthems, and lively dance rockers.
Taking the stage in sparkling pants and a long gold cape, frontwoman Danielle McTaggart was a dynamic presence as the band tore through tracks from their latest record Phases and their 2015 debut Black to Gold.
After setting the stage with the atmospheric “Wicked Thing,” the band kicked things up with their latest single “Live Through the Night” and the nostalgic, forward-looking “Stolen Days.”
Buoyed by McTaggart’s powerful voice and exuberant stage presence, the slick songs took on an almost hypnotic quality, the frosty instrumentation contrasting nicely with the passion and vitality of the lyrics.
With its urgent “What are you waiting for?” chorus, Black to Gold standout “Tongues” was a highlight of the set, as was 2018’s “Flashes,” an alluring electronica track that had Danielle crooning “We don’t need a superficial love” over robotic beats and shimmery synths.
Also cool was a steely cover of Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen,” which segued into “Little By Little.”
The band concluded the first part of their set with barn-burning single “Boys and Blondes,” before kicking off their encore with 2013 single “I Heard I Had.”
Looking out onto the jam-packed dance floor, Dear Rouge co-founder Drew McTaggart took the opportunity to reminisce about the band’s poorly-attended early tours, including an eight-guest gig at Ottawa’s Mavericks bar (coincidentally, the same day the band found out they’d been added to rotation on Live 88.5.)
“Basically, Dear Rouge started in Ottawa,” Danielle editorialized.
Reading a note from an audience member who’d been going through a hard time, the band dedicated a poignant performance of “Chains” to any fans who may be struggling.
They then closed with my personal favourite, a new wave power play called “Modern Shakedown.”
It was a fitting conclusion to a show that seamlessly blended live wire energy with earnest passion and an undeniable sense of style.
The first opening act of the night, Hamilton four-piece Ellevator, set the tone with a slow-burning set of spacey alt-pop. And dance-rockers Modern Space played a lively set that successfully got the crowd on their feet.
Line-up: Ellevator / Modern Space / Dear Rouge
Venue: Bronson Centre, Ottawa ON
Date: Friday, Oct. 12/2018
Ottawa bluesman JW Jones marked the release of his latest album with two sold out shows at Live on Elgin on Friday night.
The only Ontario stop of Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie’s Twins of Evil tour was one sibling short, but still a ghoulishly good time.
Bluesfest went out with a power chord, with punk headliners Rise Against following a diverse line-up of Canadian rock bands on the festival’s final night.
The penultimate day of Bluesfest featured some of the best performances of the entire festival.
Day 8 of Bluesfest was literally overloaded with great music, with performances by JW Jones, Sturgill Simpson, Fortunate Ones, and Beck.
Canadian country rockers Blue Rodeo headlined Bluesfest Thursday night.
There was lots of great music beyond the main stages at Bluesfest on Wednesday.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl had a confession to make at Ottawa’s Bluesfest: “Tonight, I don’t have the blues.”