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The OBEY Report, part 1

June 2, 2009

I am in love with Halifax and this is not a secret. Things are happening, people are excited, trying new things, and nobody really gives a shit about Indie Pop Night. If they do, it’s not the highlight of the social calendar like it is here in Fredericton. Halifax instigators want to find out what they can get away with next and things seem possible there.

The most recent caper was the third annual installment of the Obey Convention, spearheaded by Darcy Spidle under the banner of his Divorce Records label and distro (I almost typed “distroy”by mistake and although it’s oddly appropriate, it would probably be confusing to the reader). I don’t know whole lot about Darcy or Divorce, but I’ve had the sense for a while now that his label was one of the ones to follow to if you’re interested in the slightly strange and noisier fringe of east coast music.

We got to Halifax at the appointed time on Saturday afternoon and waited around at the North Street Church for someone to open the doors so METZ could load in. Some greasy-headed kids I correctly guessed were members of Truro’s PIG soon joined us huddled on the Fuller Terrace sidewalk with a portable cassette player in hand.

PIG turned out to be great, and I wasn’t exaggerating when I said they were kids. Half of them are still in high school and they play this noisy, chaotic, at times Daydream Nation-sounding weird punk. As if you ever had any doubt, but the full-on 90s revival is on its way, so get ready to feel old as shit. Bonus: they’ve got a cassette tape out, as do a lot of bands who played the convention. I never thought those things would come back, but it looks like that’s exactly what’s happening.

I eschewed the next act in favour of secret beers with some of the members of METZ and VKNGS in the van out front (“Dude, get out of the driver’s seat or at least turn off the engine if you’re going to do that.”) Topics of discussion included The Jesus Lizard 7” collection released for Record Store Day, and which “Weird” Al Yankovic album is better: Even Worse, Dare to Be Stupid, or In 3-D? Aside: the answer is Dare to Be Stupid, but only because In 3-D really loses momentum in the second half. Nobody really likes Even Worse, for fuck’s sake.

I’d been wanting to see The Memories Attack in person since I got a hold of their second album back in December. Chris Thompson lives in Fredericton but they don’t play live much, so this was a treat. TMA are experimental, typically noisy, sometimes sparse, other times coming out with riffs which would sound at home on any of the early Black Sabbath albums. During their set I started to notice a lot of feedback (like, the kind the band aren’t controlling and therefore probably don’t want) and this continued for the remainder of the show, which was disappointing.

VKNGS are still my favourite band in Halifax. Though this wasn’t the best set of theirs I’d seen due mainly to the sound problems, they were still incredibly ferocious and loud. Dan nudges me when Jim starts singing and says, “The voice of an angel, right there.” In other news, van chatter suggests their LP is finally recorded, currently being mastered, and should be ready to go sometime in August. Rejoice!

The night before I got to see METZ in an auditorium with about 20 other people. On one hand this is a little embarrassing because it makes it look like Fredericton doesn’t know what’s up, but on the other hand, it’s pretty sweet to see a band I like in an intimate situation like that. METZ are an ass-kickingly loud neo-stoner rock band. You can definitely hear the Melvins and Shellac influence, but there’s a lot of angular, mathy-sounding stuff going on too that made me think of a sludgier version 90s hardcore bands like Drive Like Jehu. Boners a-poppin’, you guys, and I can’t say enough good things about this band. They now have a second 7″ out on We Are Busy Bodies, available in a range of fashion colours. I recommend snapping it up.

Bellies full of beer, we scurried downtown for the next show, this one at the Khyber on Barrington Street. It’s a second (or third…? Told you I was full of beer…) -floor gallery space and it was packed and about a hundred degrees in there. We showed up just in time to see The Stolen Minks‘ final song. I recognized it as “North End Strangler”from 2008’s High Kicks and the girls were rocking, though I couldn’t see them through the crowd. Got in line for beer instead.

Next up were Montreal’s Grand Trine. I remember thinking they were pretty good, but I wasn’t feeling the delay effects they used on the vocals throughout their set. In small doses I might have enjoyed it more, but a few songs in I just found it more irritating than anything else. This might be an analogy they’d hate, but outside of the vocals, Grand Trine reminded me of the parts I liked best about Death From Above 1979, which I guess means fast rock n’ roll songs with a lot of fuzz bass. So hot, so crowded, need more beer…

I met a man named Scott who taught me so much about the upcoming Nova Scotia election. Did you know Premier Rodney McDonald used to be a substitute gym teacher? At least New Brunswick’s Shawn Graham used to be a full-time gym teacher. Anyway, it looks like the NDP are poised to form a provincial government for the first time ever east of Ontario. I’ll drink to that!


I remember making a big effort to get out of my chair to watch Tyvek, I remember standing in a doorway at stage right with Hayden from METZ, and then I remember thinking, “This isn’t that great. Holy shit, it’s hot in here. Holy shit, I can barely stand up. Holy shit, it’s probably time to go soon…. yep, time for bed.”

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. passerine songs permalink*
    June 2, 2009 10:45 pm

    “…his label is one of the ones to follow if you’re interested in the slightly strange and noisier fringe of east coast music.” Totally.

    Is that scene missing image from The Simpsons?

  2. June 2, 2009 10:47 pm

    No, I actually made that myself. It’s definitely “inspired by…” though. I couldn’t find that clip anywhere, unfortunately.


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