Night two of the fest and it’s clear that Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to be quieter in the week. Makes sense – even the most hardcore motherfuckers have a day life to crawl back to, hangover or not. Doug, one of the longest-serving bartenders in the club, assured me that the Bovine Sex Club gets pretty wild on Friday and Saturday nights – Saturday being the notoriously bad one. Maybe this series will have a snappy ending after all.
People started shuffling as the first band, Fine Times, was setting up. The Ballantynes from last night had die-hard fans in the audience, the bands tonight had a few people looking forward to them, but with significantly less intensity. I was one of these people and my band of choice was the harsh synthetic wonderland of ONFIILM whom I’ve grown to love as I researched them. After Fine Times, Mushy Callahan gained a new round of fans, followed by ONFIILM, Cobra Romane, A Primitive Evolution, and Midnight Towers.
Fine Times hit the stage, led by an energetic young frontman named Matthew Moldowan. When I was researching their 2012 album, I noticed that they have this cool echo effect on their vocals that make every track sound like a live performance. This is a trend that a lot of indie bands are taking on, but these guys make it sound unique. These guys hail from Vancouver and they’re well-received here in Toronto. They had everyone’s eyes on them – no conversations were going on in the house as long as they were playing.
Their live performance is pretty impressive, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Max Sample back on the keyboard. Hell, all of The Ballantynes came back to support their friends. As well as good music, there was great member interaction, especially how slyly wrapped the microphone wire around the guitarist’s neck and hung off his shoulder in mock exhaustion. The interactions with one another is only matched by their involvement with the audience, prompting them to come closer. They even played our craving ears a sexy new track. They ended off on a really good one too – probably the most bombastic on their album, “Hey Judas”.
Mushy Callahan was arguably one of the biggest hits of the night, not just because the room was packed with people captivated by them, but because people were mentioning that this group of brothers was their favorite. Noah (the lead vocals and guitarist), Jacob (bass and vocals), Joel (drums), and Lucas (taking to the keys) come from Alberta and have performed in Toronto quite a few times. They’ve got awards to their name, they’ve opened up for some pretty big bands, and they tour Canada and the U.K. They’re a pretty big deal as far indie bands go.
The kick-ass biker feel their album had is elevated on stage – but it’s by no means a mindless heavy metal set. It’s contemplative of morality, like the two-part song “Devil”. According to lead singer Noah, this marks their first time playing in Toronto and they’re digging it. Well, Toronto’s digging them too. The classic rock influences to their indie vibe drew in rockers and independent music fans alike. One of their biggest fans of the night happened to be a sponsorship contest winner who has a platinum pass on the festival. Mushy Callahan now has the Fleshlight sponsor’s seal of approval with tonight’s performance.
The stage was soon set up with an electric blue wash, video equipment hung before the stage. A stellar video show played over vocalist Jordan Craig and guitarist Aaron Sager-Yung from ONFIILM, wrapped in an inter-galactic synthetic tone to their music. They describe their music as post-punk with abrasive blues, and that’s pretty accurate, especially with the long drawn-out vocals being backed by a shredding guitar. These guys drew in a more peculiar crowd, but that’s what the effect of their music.
Amps and the distance echo effects gave the duo the force of a standard band, demanding attention with hypnotic tunes. The second guitarist looked possessed while he played, fitting the scene pretty well. There was a reason why I was excited for this band tonight and I was not disappointed.
The crowd seemed pretty tame compared to certain people I’m sure this club has had to put up with, but I’m sure this is nothing compared to Friday and Saturday night. It may have started off slow, but it took off with a great coup-de-force than the first night. Soon it became a full house and everyone was breathing everyone else’s air. More importantly – we were enjoying the same music.
Want to check out the rest of the fest? See it at the Bovine:
Friday, June 19th .2015
9:00 pm – Crawl
10:00 pm – The Sour Notes
11:00 pm – Shark Week
12:00 am – Sate
1:00 am – The Van Arks
Saturday, June 20th . 2015
9:00 pm – Apache Darling
10:00 pm – Keram
11:00 pm – Urvah Khan
12:00 am – Terrorista
1:00 am – The Mercy Now
2:00 am – Public Animal