This weekend some heavy-hitters are descending upon Kitchener for the annual Big Music Fest (tickets are still available). Between Soundgarden, Extreme, and Jane’s Addiction, there will be no shortage of 90’s nostalgia at McLennan Park this Saturday. Of course there’s good reason for this, some of the most legendary acts from an entire decade (not to mention Ontario hard rock heroes Monster Truck!) are going to be sharing a stage! It’s awesome stuff, but what’s got us at the Indie Blender real jazzed is the Breaking Bands competition on Friday at 1pm. Twenty (yes, twenty. My condolences to the sound-op) of the best indie bands in Ontario duking it out for a killer prize? I can dig it. Big Sugar playing to cap the night off? Sign me up! With a stupendous variety of different genres, playing styles, and characters, the Breaking Bands event is almost an “Indie Blender” unto itself: 20 different stellar indie acts on one stage, all providing incredible performances. With so many acts billed, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list a few that we think will shine (that being said, these events have a way of surprising folks, and the competition is truly stiff). Below is a list (in alphabetical order) of five of the groups we’re really excited to see in the flesh on Friday:
These guys are weird in all the right ways. With a loveable dash of quirk that compliments their music (as opposed to overshadowing it), The Cardboard crowns are a band out of Ottawa that specializes in “…ska-beat, reggae, punk-rock, and community service…”. Yes, they wear crowns of various homemade design. Yes, eccentric is potentially an understatement. But far more important is the Crowns’ consistently solid songwriting and arrangement. Rather than allowing their peculiar schtick to interfere with the music too much and potentially alienate audiences, their hook-savvy tunes and substantial lyrical content hold their own with ease. It doesn’t take long after listening to their new debut record record Global Citizen to understand that these guys are an energetic and exciting group to see on stage, and I cannot wait to see what their live show will be like.
“Folk-infused rock with a punk mentality”. Now who can’t get down to that? In the days of multi-genre blends, the Honest Heart Collective are off to a good start. Hailing from Thunder Bay, these Northern boys just finished up an Ontario-wide tour (with one stop in Montreal, to be fair!), gaining passionate supporters as they went. I was lucky enough to catch them at DSTRCT in Guelph recently, and was thoroughly impressed by their live act. Recently releasing their LP Liar’s Club, the Collective is establishing themselves all over the province as a force to be getting behind, or be reckoning with. Backed up by an excellent branding and marketing campaign, Honest Heart is poised to turn their music into a movement.
My word, my word. “Badass” doesn’t cut it when attempting to describe the sheer fury with which Howll vocalist Lindsay Coleman attacks her parts. Pair that with some slick licks from guitarist Andrew Eaton and you’ve got something special going, something titanic. With raw, gutsy blues on one hand, and 70’s rock n’ roll energy on the other, The Howll demand (and deserve) your attention and respect. More than just loud blues-rock, these folks have got the chops to back it up in spades. Reunited in February of 2014 after a year’s split, the Howll have been hitting it hard with numerous shows across Ontario, and are currently writing their first full-length.
With early pop-punk sensibility and anthemic choruses (Kegger is genius, guys), I am introduced to The Maysides. Hamilton boys, The Maysides have already been experiencing local success (climbing high on the reverbnation punk charts) and international airplay. With sounds reminiscent of Blink 182, Billy Talent and the likes, y’all best be ready to party like it’s 1999. Together since 2012, The Maysides have undoubtedly got their sound down. With a confident and cohesive vibe throughout their record Evicted, the band has now begun to export their own brand of pop-rock and punk. I’ve heard plenty recently about the growing heavy music scene in The Hammer, and if The Maysides are any indication, we should all be taking plenty of notice.
Never ones to be put down, The Rathburns also feature killer female vox. With many of the same blues influences as The Howll, The Rathburns take their art to a grungier, more frenetic place. Sporting a devil-may-care attitude and commanding hooks, these Toronto natives aren’t to be taken lightly by any means. When listening to their material, one isn’t sure whether they want to dance with whoever’s closest, or start a bar brawl with that same person. Maybe one, and then the other? The darker flavours of their songwriting blend terrifically with the ballsy guitar riffs and no holds barred vocals. Regardless of it being a recorded piece, you know that these folks not only give their all on stage, but expect audiences to do the same.
All this and more will be gracing the stage at Big Music Fest this Friday. We’ll be seeing you there!