Tag Archives: Kazoo! Fest

Another Long Winter

Inauguration of Long Winter’s second year hints at a less Fucked Up forecast
Words and photos by Tom Beedham

Doomsquad performing in the Samuel J. Moore restaurant on the main floor of The Great Hall on Nov. 8. November 8 marked the first time Long Winter used the restaurant as a venue for its programming. Photo: Tom Beedham

Doomsquad performing in the Samuel J. Moore restaurant on the main floor of The Great Hall on Nov. 8. November 8 marked the first time Long Winter used the restaurant as a venue for its programming. Photo: Tom Beedham

When Long Winter returned to The Great Hall on Nov. 8, it came too with the suggestion that audiences would receive a different version of the monthly melting pot-facilitating evenings than they might have come to expect from it last year.

To wit, the one reliable feature Long Winter regulars have become familiar with is the dependable lack of predictability tied to each night of the season spanning (and extending) arts and culture community event, but the first night of this season came with a significant rebranding.

The cover of Long Winter's program for Nov. 8. Noticeably absent is mention of Fucked Up, the band slated as the presenters of last year's Long Winter events. Photo: Tom Beedham

The cover of Long Winter’s program for Nov. 8. Noticeably absent is mention of Fucked Up, the band slated as the presenters of last year’s Long Winter events. Photo: Tom Beedham

Ushered into fruition just one year ago by Mike Haliechuk and Josh Zucker of ever-enterprising Toronto punk outfit Fucked Up, the monthly night of music, art, food, film, poetry, photography, dance, speakers, and (eventually) video games began as something that would allow Haliechuk and Zucker to program a local event. Throwing each of the nights to impressively broadened masses as all-ages, pay-what-you-can affairs, Long Winter established itself as a beacon for fairly accessible multi-media entertainment programming (unfortunately the Great Hall is only accessible by stairs; there is no elevator service), and as the events snowballed in scope as well as popularity, its varied offerings came to tessellate more and more of the rooms and hallways that make up the building accordingly.

The events relied on the somewhat small community of connections their band had both established and immersed itself in, and Fucked Up headlined most of the five shows, appropriately cited on Long Winter programs, posters, and online event pages as the force that “presented” each of the series’ instalments.

But as it returned this year with the support of the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, although Haliechuk and Zucker continue to run the show, Fucked Up’s name was nowhere to be found.

Speculation could go on forever as to why the band’s pedigree has been removed from the ephemera surrounding the series, but in terms of the void they left to be filled by another headliner – this time a slot arguably shared by psychedelic Guelph rock veterans King Cobb Steelie in the main hall and siblinged Toronto/Montréal darkwave trio Doomsquad in the newly Long Winter-dominated Samuel J. Moore restaurant on The Great Hall’s ground level – it’s worth noting that the series’ website includes a statement from Haliechuk boasting a commitment to diverse programming and calling for outside submissions.

“Everyone is welcome, and everyone who attended last year should feel as much a part of this event as we do. We aim to be a reflection of all the great things that people do in Toronto,” Haliechuk says – emphasis on the “all,” no doubt. It would be no great surprise if Fucked Up’s reduced identity were implemented in favour of that virtue.

The first of a series of split seven-inch records Scion Sessions is giving Long Winter audiences for free upon entry to the monthly event this season. Photo: Tom Beedham

The first of a series of split seven-inch records Scion Sessions is giving Long Winter audiences for free upon entry to the monthly event this season. Photo: Tom Beedham

The first 350 patrons entering November 8’s Long Winter would have immediately noticed one other big change as they passed through the doors, each of them granted a free split seven-inch featuring Doomsquad and Lido Pimienta, whom also performed that night. Contributed by the Hand Drawn Dracula-courting Scion Sessions, the record was the first of a series of Long Winter artist-featuring splits slated to be offered to guests for each of this year’s instalments.

From there on, though, it was mostly business as usual for one of Toronto’s most immersive entertainment programming series: there was music, there was art, there was food, there was theatre, there was comedy, there were video games, and there was music. Did I say there was music?

If guests ventured further upstairs to the hall’s balcony level and coat check, they would have approached and become a part of Steve Reaume’s art/light installation projecting some truly debilitating algorithmic patterns into a corner, and once they’d recovered from the dizzying effects of that, there was William Andrew Finlay Stewart’s “Fall” – a looping video project – waiting for them on the ground.

If you skipped dinner to get there early or just wanted some late night munchies, the main hall hosted all-vegan food offerings from Windowshade Delicatessen, who’s reuben sandwich variant will certainly earn their west College street location a personal visit from myself and everyone else I successfully peddle it on.

At any given point throughout the night you could also fill your time by drawing on (and having your picture taken with) one of 1078 disposed coffee cups with “Disposable,” a consumption-considering interactive installation from Anrea Wrobel and Brian Cauley.

Wake Island's Philippe M at Long Winter in The Great Hall's main hall on Nov. 8. PhotoL Tom Beedham

Wake Island’s Philippe M at Long Winter in The Great Hall’s main hall on Nov. 8. PhotoL Tom Beedham

Things really got rolling with Wake Island, though. Opening up the multi-stationed concert portion of the night in the main hall, the Montreal rock foursome hammered things home with some expert delivery, cementing its set as something other performers should have worried about following with guitarist Nadim M’s final tooth-picked solo.

Nevertheless, performer Ben Kamino took the stage once they’d finished, instructing the main hall to slow-dance eyes shut in a herd, urging participants to touch each other – not just with their hands but with all parts of their bodies – and by extension, “everyone in the universe.” You can imagine how that went. It was awkward. Kamino repeated this experiment twice more following bands in the main hall.

 Esther Grey at Long Winter in The Great Hall's Conversation Room on Nov. 8. Photo: Tom Beedham

Esther Grey at Long Winter in The Great Hall’s Conversation Room on Nov. 8. Photo: Tom Beedham

Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 1 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 2 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 3 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 4 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 5 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 6 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 7 Esther Grey. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 8
Next was Guelph garage rock act Esther Grey, warming up the Conversation Room. Bringing sometimes-member and saxophonist Dan Paille in tow, guitarist Steph Yates and bassist Nathan Campagnero’s plodding progressions were juxtaposed with some extra texture that I didn’t get to hear when I last reviewed them for their Kazoo! Fest show back in April. Paille’s sax is presented pretty sparingly in comparison to the core group’s output, so it works with the group’s minimalist explorations of instrumental spacing.

From Ben Kamino and Matt Kelly's

From Ben Kamino and Matt Kelly’s “Conflict. Resolution. Conflict,” an absurdist Beckettian skit performed in front of the crowd dissipating after Esther Grey’s set in the Conversation Room at The Great Hall for Long Winter. Photo: Tom Beedham

Fixed with elongated cardboard masks, Ben Kamino and Matt Kelly ambushed the crowd remaining in the room at the end of Esther Grey’s set with a guerilla theatre performance called “Conflict. Resolution. Conflict.” Their characters mostly just argued over an onion, but eventually they made up with a sweet(?) embrace that saw them sharing bites out of the very real, very potent vegetable and then scuttled out of the room.

Recovering from Kamino and Kelly’s adventure in Beckettian theatre and wandering back into the main hall, Rheostatics founder Dave Bidini’s new group Bidiniband guided audience through a literary-minded tour of rock history, only playing four stream-of-conscience-y “long ones” to negotiate the restraints of their set time.

If you rushed from Bidini’s set to the conversation hall, you would have caught a very confrontational Abyss, whose frontman spent the majority of the group’s grindcore assaults sharing the mic with one listener’s face, whether he liked it or not.

Lido Pimienta performing in The Great Hall's main hall on Nov. 8 for Long Winter. Photo: Tom Beedham

Lido Pimienta performing in The Great Hall’s main hall on Nov. 8 for Long Winter. Photo: Tom Beedham

Next up in the main hall was Lido Pimienta, who should really get props for exacting some very hands-on parenting all while singing and dancing onstage.

“Single mothers in this city are gangster, y’all,” Pimienta said. She proved she wasn’t wrong with her highly danceable genre-benders.

Vish Khanna (right) interviews 2013 Polaris Music Prize nominee Zaki Ibrahim as Exclaim! Editor-in-Chief James Keast (left) sits in for additional perspective during 'Late Night with Vish Khanna,' a new talk show-style addition to Long Winter's  monthly programming. Photo: Tom Beedham

Vish Khanna (right) interviews 2013 Polaris Music Prize nominee Zaki Ibrahim as Exclaim! Editor-in-Chief James Keast (left) sits in for additional perspective during ‘Late Night with Vish Khanna,’ a new talk show addition to Long Winter’s monthly programming. Photo: Tom Beedham

Meanwhile in the basement, the last really big new thing for Long Winter was in full sway with former Long Winter MC Vish Khanna hosting his own late night talk show Long Night with Vish Khanna in the BLK BOX theatre. Complete with the house band stylings of The Bicycles and Light Fires’ Regina Thegentlelady wandering onstage to the show featured talk show style interviews with guests including musicians Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh) and 2013 Polaris Music Prize-nominated Zaki Abraham, as well as author and The Grid Senior Editor Edward Keenan, and Exclaim! Editor-in-Chief James Keast. While I missed Barlow entirely and only just made it downstairs in time for the tail end of Keenan’s portion of the show discussing his new Toronto political history Some Great Idea and recent developments involving Mayor Rob Ford, I did get to sit through Zaki Ibrahim, who also offered insight on the mayor, but more interestingly, her take on Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s treatment of its Polaris prize win. (“I felt like I had egg on my face,” Ibrahim said, after commenting that GYBE’s treatment of the prize and the gala was “cool.” Ibrahim also related GYBE to the Grateful Dead, provoking some (not very successfully) suppressed laughter from Keast.)

Doomsquad performing in the Samuel J. Moore restaurant as part of Long Winter on Nov. 8. Photo: Tom Beedham

Doomsquad performing in the Samuel J. Moore restaurant as part of Long Winter on Nov. 8. Photo: Tom Beedham

Doomsquad. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 1 Doomsquad. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 2 Doomsquad. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 3 Doomsquad. Long Winter. Tom Beedham. 4

Last for me were Doomsquad – giving the Samuel J. Moore restaurant its first Long Winter performance – playing their new age-evocative electronic music in some cavernous darkness (save for a salt lamp affixed to guitarist Trevor Blumas’ sampling table). The Blumas siblings challenged the physical resilience of the restaurant’s wall-to-wall window with crippling bass, offering only the soft textures of a pan flutes as a possible remedy.

From everything I was able to take in before calling it a night, The Great Hall seems properly primed for another season of Long Winter, even with the SJM restaurant added into the chaos (despite the potential for sonic disaster in the new venue, only some quickly resolved mixing issues that initially placed Trevor Blumas’ sampler way too low in the mix presented themselves over the course of the set). And from what I could make of the faces I saw on Friday, I think audiences are ready, too.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: BA Johnston @Jimmy Jazz, April 6

BA Johnston at Jimmy Jazz, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Applying some symmetry to the last set he played at the Jimmy Jazz, a concert that saw him end the show in the men’s washroom, BA Johnston kicked off his Kazoo! Fest set by emerging from the same lavatory with a couple of sparklers held high above his head.  At some times playing a keyboard with just one finger and at others simply plugging a Discman into the sound system and walking into the crowd to pick on audience members for their facial hair, fire snot rockets haphazardly at the ground (or the walls, or audience), climb atop tables, or to forego singing just to do the worm, BA Johnston’s act falls somewhere between a twisted kind of anti-music and one of the most engaging concert experiences you’ll ever witness. Seriously, but not seriously.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Shotgun Jimmie @Jimmy Jazz

Shotgun Jimmie at Jimmy Jazz, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Pulling into the Jimmy Jazz without the multiple performance stations and makeshift instruments (suitcase bass drum, megaphone, etc.) he had in tow at the eBar last September, Shotgun Jimmie’s Kazoo! Fest set rode into Guelph on the virtue of making a conscious effort to avoid repeating the past. On tour promoting his new album, Everything, Everything, Kilpatrick performed a set mostly consisting of new material (songs that usually clock in under two minutes), predominantly handling bass and snare drums with his feet while simultaneously singing and playing the guitar, but sometimes even smashing a ride cymbal with a shaker while hitting guitar chords with his other hand.

It’s an act that does rely on novelty, but never too heavily. It also helps that it’s a novelty that fails to wear off. Even if Kilpatrick fumbles a note while juggling upwards of four instruments, as a performance that champions underdogs and average-ness, the goofs don’t really stick out but instead find a place in a Shotgun Jimmie show.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Baby Eagle @Jimmy Jazz, April 6

Baby Eagle (Steve Lambke) with Daniel Romano filling in on lead guitar at Jimmy Jazz, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Following the small but mighty Baby Eagle is sort of like watching an amorphous shadow of a band. Except when performing as the formally recognized Baby Eagle and the Proud Mothers, the only real Baby Eagle consistency is the man to which that shadow belongs, former Constantines member Steve Lambke. In that tradition, Lambke kicked things off on April 6 by diving into his Jimmy Jazz opening slot alone, then calling You’ve Changed Records labelmates Daniel Romano (Attack in Black) and Jim Kilpatrick (Shotgun Jimmie) to the stage to join on lead guitar and drums (respectively). That presence eventually swelled to include Legato Vipers members Mike Brooks on a third guitar and Tyler Belluz on bass.  Exhibiting impressive coherence for an act lending itself to such a diverse lineup, it was an act in collaboration that suggesting although Baby Eagle has no concrete performance to tour around with, he doesn’t need his Proud Mothers to carry him along the way.

Q&A: Shotgun Jimmie

Jim Kilpatrick on (approximately) everything about his new album, Skype dates, and experimental instruments

Just hours before playing a Pinball Sessions co-presented Kazoo! Fest set at Jimmy Jazz, Shotgun Jimmie (a.k.a. singer-songwriter Jim Kilpatrick) agreed to meet up with me at one of his favourite restaurants for relaxing before a show, The Cornerstone. We talked about (approximately) everything you need to know about his new record, Everything, Everything, Skype dates, what suitcases you shouldn’t use as bass drums, and his connection to Ray Mitchell, the owner of Guelph’s singular antique shop, Dis-a-Ray.

(interview begins after photo)

Shotgun Jimmie at Jimmy Jazz, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Tom Beedham: Hey Jimmie. Welcome back to Guelph. We’re at the Cornerstone. Did you want anything?

 Shotgun Jimmie: From The Cornerstone?

TB: Yeah.

SJ: Umm… I just had an incredible espresso. I shouldn’t have another one. That’s already got me wired.

TB: Well, everything’s pretty good.

SJ: I know. This is one of my favourite places to eat before the show.

TB: Are you a vegetarian?

SJ: Yes… are you?

TB: I’m not, but I eat here all the time. I dunno, I like bacon too much or something.

SJ: There you go.

TB: But yeah, everything here’s pretty good, and speaking of everything, your new album’s called Everything, Everything, and tonight you’re celebrating the release of that here in Guelph. At the risk of ruining the rest of the questions I’ve prepared, tell me everything people need to know about that in a couple of sentences.

SJ: Everything, Everything in a few sentences. That’s a pretty tall order. I ended up calling the album Everything, Everything because the last song on the album is called Everything, Everything, and it sort of works with the aesthetic of the record. The cover of the album is a collage – well, it’s an installation that I guess is like a physical collage of sorts – and when I was recording the album I also was thinking about collage and I ended up using different mediums – recording mediums; four-tracking, computer, and that type of thing – and blending them together – not just having some songs that are one format and other songs that are a different format, but actually patching them all together a little bit in different parts and really trying to  put together and assemble the record in that same style. It just felt like Everything, Everything was the right mantra or idea for the record and for that song. It just all ended up tying in nicely.

TB: So far I’ve only heard “Skype Date,” but I guess the track listing can lead people to figure that everything involves California (and, more specifically Big Sur), garden growth, and standing in lines. Would you call that an accurate collage of the essence of everything?

SJ: Yeeeah. I mean the themes that are on the record are definitely sunny in disposition and also just like the everyday everything – like standing in a line – and yeah, I think a lot of the themes on the record are sort of normal on first examination, and then after, with further examination, you see some of the subtleties, and then they become more interesting.

TBYou had this contest for a Skype date. Are you still waiting on your Skype date?

SJ: I have finished the Skype date contest. It was a huge success.

TB: How was your date?

SJ: I ended up having six dates.

TB: Player!

SJ: They were all fantastic. The highlights for me… well it was geographically spread out quite nicely. My favourite was in Ottawa, Ont. I did a Skyped concert for a bunch of children. This mother won the contest and her whole family are fans of my last album, Transistor Sister, and all the neighbourhood children came over to the house and they made posters, “We love Jimmie” posters, and they were all gathered in the living room and I played a children’s concert for them. That was really great.

I also played a concert in Paris, France for some really sophisticated French hipsters. They were really quite friendly and for them it was evening and they were just getting ready to go out on the town but they had cheese and baguette and they were drinking red wine, and it seemed very sophisticated and I enjoyed having that inserted into my day. I also did a concert in Adelaide, Aus., in Vancouver, BC, and in Fogo, N.L. It’s really fun to be playing concerts all over the world from the comfort of my living room. I found it was really rewarding.

Most people invited friends over, so they weren’t very intimate dates – they were very relaxed in nature. So it ended up being a Skype concert contest rather than Skype dates, but I have the song on the record called “Skype Date” so we thought it would be a fun little contest to have. I loved it. It was so much fun. I would love to do that again.

TB: Saves you money on tour expenses as well.

SJ: Exactly, exactly. I think initially the idea was that it was a publicity campaign or something like that. But it ended up being so much more rewarding than that, really. It was really interesting and bares further examination. I would like to try and figure out some other way to further that and do some more Skype concerts with the right people in the right place at the right time.

TB: It’s a great idea. You were talking about the cover art and how it’s a collage and there’s a pretty wide assortment of things featured on the cover art. Do you want to talk about some of those things and why some of them made it on the cover? Do some of the items have stories?

SJ: I think there are. The art is done by these two artists in Sackville, New Brunswick – Paul Henderson and John Claytor – the masterminds behind SappyFest that also have this design company, Redesign Sackville. I recognize a lot of those artifacts from when I used to live in New Brunswick; some of them have appeared in my various apartments or offices or just everyday places. My accordion is there and some of the items are mine, but I was not responsible for assembling that at all and had no say in the artwork. I just hired these really talented friends and then stepped back and let them take over. But they had a copy of the record so I’m sure that they were considering that. They wanted to make a connection between the music and the actual artwork and I think they did a great job.

TB: It looks awesome. How about the rubber boot? That’s got its own special connotations here in Guelph and especially with Kazoo! Fest.

SJ: Yes it does, the rubber boot. I do not know the origin of the boot, but it did make me think of Wellington Brewery when I first saw it.

TB: Yeah. The cover’s got a lot going on. It kind of reminds me of the place right next door – Dis-a-Ray. And I understand you’ve got a connection to the owner, Ray Mitchell. Can you talk about that?

SJ: Yeah, I know Ray. I’ve known him for many years. I played at The Family Thrift Store [a shop Mitchell owned prior to Dis-a-Ray] – I think maybe one of my first shows as Shotgun Jimmie in Guelph was at The Family Thrift Store, and I played there when I was in the band Shotgun and Jaybird as well.

TBDid you get to pay the shop a visit today or did you just get into town?

SJ: I just got here basically. I went to a friend’s house for dinner and then came straight here to meet you. But last time I was here Ray offered his shop up for a rehearsal space because I was meeting with the band and we needed to go over some tunes.

TB: That’s awesome.

SJ: He’s a good man.

TB: And a great connection to have, apparently. I guess it’s not such a surprise you’ve written an album associated with everything. I mean you’re pretty resourceful. You’ve turned things like suitcases and cookie sheets into instruments. Have you had any failed experiments making instruments?

SJ: Oh. Asking about my failures – interesting interview technique. I really enjoy experimenting with that stuff. Some things end up working better than others. I don’t know that… nothing jumps into mind. Like if I’m unhappy with something I guess that ends up not… I had one suitcase I used to use as a bass drum that for some reason had this overtone that wasn’t really audible to the human ear, but whenever someone tried to mic it at a big rock club it had this terrible feedback problem.

TB: A suitcase had a feedback problem?

SJ: I wouldn’t have suspected that a suitcase would have a feedback problem because you think of guitar amps and PAs and stuff like that feeding back and not really a suitcase. But yeah, this thing was terrible. But I like to experiment with different things and I’m not afraid of failure, but it does come up from time to time.

TB: Can you recall what brand or style the suitcase was so other people can avoid using them for bass drums?

SJ: I’d say it was a late ’80s, early ’90s Samsonite. Not the kind that is made out of Fiberglass, but the hard plastic version. They’re pretty rare actually. Generally speaking Samsonites make wonderful kick drums, but this hard plastic one – probably because of the shape of it or something, it was a rather large suitcase – I would recommend staying away from the large royal blue Samsonites.

TB: Are there any new instruments people can hear tonight?

SJ: No, on this one I decided to use real instruments. I had been doing a lot of experimenting with different things on previous tours, but for the Everything, Everything tour, I decided to pull all the stops and bring out real guitar amp and real drums and… Yeah. No bric-a-brac on this one at all.

TB: I hear there is a special backdrop you’ve set up for the tour, though.

SJ: There is a fancy backdrop that I’m on tour right now. And it’s also reminiscent of the sort of collage type of thing I guess in some respect. It’s like found objects. It’s one of my first forays into visual art. I’m excited to see how people feel about it.

TB: Wrapping things up, what’s next after tonight’s show?

SJ: After tonight, I play one more show in Southern Ontario, and then I’m heading to the East Coast of Canada to play some shows out there as far as Newfoundland. And then I’m going to head out west, do a western tour, and then play some festivals this summer. Business as usual.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Not the Wind, Not the Flag @Silence, April 6

Not the Wind, Not the Flag at Silence, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Not the Wind, Not the Flag at Silence, April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

When you arrive late to an afternoon set at a place called Silence and Brandon Valdivia is peppering his drums with chaotic-yet-deliberate attacks and Colin Fisher is squealing away on his saxophone in a kind of Colin Stetson-y way, you’re bound to be some kind of overwhelmed.

Half an hour into their set, as if anticipating a sensory overload felt on part of the crowd, Valdivia switched to a melodica, Fisher swapped his sax for a six-string, and they dove into a post-rock slow jam that stood to balance the frantic, free form jazz of their offering thus far.

Although they were already drenched in sweat after an hour of playing to a seated crowd, the duo told the crowd to take five and dove right back into it afterwards.

Offerings like these are what make festivals like Kazoo! Fest so great. They stick out like a sore thumb in a lineup heaped with garage-birthed rock variants and experimental electronic groups, but the exposure to something new is refreshing and… well, just cool.

Kazoo! Fest: Dusted @Guelph Green Party Office, April 5

 

Dusted at the Guelph Green Party Office, April 5. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Even though his “old” band Holy Fuck made a triumphant (if quietly promoted) return to the stage at February’s edition of Toronto’s Long Winter series, Brian Borcherdt isn’t putting Dusted to bed. The answers to material by Borcherdt that was otherwise incompletely realized when written between shows with Holy Fuck and his solo work, Dusted sees Borcherdt team up with producer Leon Taheny, who carved a reputation producing Owen Pallett’s Final Fantasy albums and has also worked with Ohbijou and the Wooden Sky.

While Borcherdt sang ran his voice and guitar through some heavy feedback, Taheny, who just had Esther Grey between Dusted and the Rituals set he’d played earlier in the night, took on double duties playing drums and synth simultaneously. For a performance that relies on an equipment list that includes overblown amplifiers, the converted Green Party garage made the perfect setting for Dusted’s atmospherically minded offering of fuzzy post-folk.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Esther Grey @Guelph Green Party Office, April 5

Esther Grey at the Guelph Green Party Office on April 5. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Esther Grey have made a tradition of playing Kazoo! Fests, and it’s not hard to see why. Mixing creeping guitar progressions, innocent vocals, and some relaxed drumming that climax in crispy lo-fi jam outs, the group has developed a sound that is both idiosyncratic and self-aware. And here’s a coincidence: Esther Grey played at the Green Party Office garage, and the band began as guitarist Steph Yates and drummer/bassist Tyson Brinacombe’s humble, yard sale-inspired brainchild.

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Rituals @Guelph Green Party Office, April 5

Rituals at the Guelph Green Party Office on April 6.

Rituals at the Guelph Green Party Office on April 6. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Applying ooh-ah-eee-oos to a post-punk aesthetic, Rituals ultimately serve up a crackly kind of surfgaze. At times hazily atmospheric, and at others laying the sludge on thick, it kind of comes off more as a sound experiment than something you want to sit around and rock out too, but in a spacious setting like the Green Party Office’s garage in Guelph, it’s a force you can’t help but pay attention too and absorb. Even if it gives you a light headache, it’s worth taking in.

 

Kazoo! Fest reviews: Scattered Clouds @Guelph Green Party Office April 5

Scattered Clouds at the Guelph Green Party Office on April 5. (Photo by Tom Beedham)

Positioned somewhere between brooding, jangly no-wave and an artsy kind of horror country, Scattered Clouds are kind of like a falling apart Bauhaus meets the Wild West. While the band boasts a name that echoes weather forecast and they were the second opener to play a five-band show, they shouldn’t be mistaken as anything short of a focal point, lest their peculiar sound should go unobserved.