Archive for Ottawa

KEN Mode @ Ottawa

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , , on November 3, 2013 by Noise Road


Despite of, or maybe because of, a series of questionable life choices, Noise Road has some unique experiences in some disparate parts of the world burnt into our skull. Music is my first love, and my days are soundtracked. Whenever I can get away with it, an IPod is jammed into my ears – on the way to work, at work… on a slow train to Oxford, or a budget flight to Helsinki. My last 4 years have been punctuated by killer gigs in the UK, but also in Europe and now in North America.

When Ken Mode launched into the opening riff of Daeodon, my eyes shut, my body grooved… and I had a memory jolt of looping that track, Irvine Welsh novel in fist, on a train between Amsterdam airport and the Roadburn Festival. It may not seem like much to you, but these flashes of good times make me think that not all my life choices have been wrong. I have seen and heard some cool shit in some unique places.

It was 21 degrees in Ottawa a couple of weeks ago. I was glad that the weather had held for a minute on my arrival into Canada. This morning it was -7 degrees. The locals didn’t even blink. This isn’t cold. Wait for winter.

So in 3 layers of clothes, I booked on over to Cafe Deckuf. Downstairs, Orange Goblin played the main Mavericks room. Orange Goblin are great live. It was a shame to miss them. But KEN Mode, dude. KEN Mode!

Ottawa locals, Black Oak Decline, kicked off the evening with a bass-driven, sludgy-hardcore set. Most of the punters were here already, and an energetic set on a Tuesday night was warmly received.

Full of Hell truly play Noise Rock. That is noise and rock. Their knob twiddling feedback and reverb ebbs and flows, saturating the room with noise, before they locking in to furious blasts. Its like Eyehatedgod on speed… well, Eyehategod on more speed.

KEN Mode open the attack with Counter Culture Complex. Before boarding the stage, KEN Mode seemed like a bunch of laid-back dudes. They chatted with the punters and with local faves, Fuck the Facts. Now KEN Mode fully embody their Black Flag inspired name, Kill Everyone Now Mode.

Vocalist/Guitarist, Jesse Matthewson, has the crazy eyes. The dude looks like he wants to kill everyone now. At the close of the last song, he picks out individuals in the crowd and holds a stare at them. I was one of those dudes. I came back from that void broken.

Secret Vasectomy and Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick may have jokey titles, but there is not an ounce of irony or humour in the set. It is flat out intensity.

KEN Mode and Ottawa, you have burnt a fresh memory into my skull.

Cancer Bats / Bat Sabbath @ Mavericks, Ottawa, Canada

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , on October 21, 2013 by Noise Road


In a heavy-music landscape where genres are continually, and passionlessly, subdividing like asexual starfish, it is difficult to gain consensus on what is metal, and what is good. Black Sabbath is that consensus.

There are death metal fans that won’t listen to anything with clean vocals, serious fans that pay no mind to any nonsense about satan and wizards, grind freaks who won’t tolerate anything decipherable or beyond 30 seconds in length, technical prog freaks who can’t truck with anything in 4/4 and that doesn’t last at least 17 minutes….

.. But all of them agree on Black Sabbath. And if they don’t, don’t you trust them. As Phil Anselmo said “Your trust is in whiskey, and weed, and Black Sabbath”

Crowds at hardcore/metal crossover shows can be particularly splintered. I remember a Converge show at Fowlers where metalheads on the perimeter gave death stares to hardcore kids windmilling in the pit. Cancer Bats attracts both hardcore and metal kids, and everything inbetween… yet here we all are, singing along to old Sabbath standards. These are our hymns. This is our traditional folk music.

Splitting my lungs with blood and thunder to War Pigs is one of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long while. That shit should be prescribed to the clinically depressed. Free Cancer Bat gigs should be added to ObamaCare.

The fun started early in the night. Quebec’s Dance Laury Dance surprised with a swaggering hard rock set, complete with duelling solos and the odd high-pitched, power-metal scream. The majority of the set was fist pumping, anthemic stuff to neck your Keith’s Red to.


Off topic, but I love the North American system of tipping every beer order. Tip decently, and the bartender searches you out at the bar. They remember your order. I don’t know anyone in Ottawa yet, but several bar tenders are already opening my preferred bottle as I approach the bar.

This was my first show since starting my 3-year bit in Ottawa a few weeks ago. Its not just the bartenders that have been friendly. The friendliness of Canadians has made the move a lot easier. Also, the weather holding for a few extra weeks, has alleviated my fears of walking straight into the ice planet, Hoth.


Tonight, Ottawa’s packed Mavericks venue bursted with enthusiasm. The crowd’s cheers never relented between Cancer Bats’ songs. The frontman described it best, calling it a rager.

Cancer Bats bring so much positive energy to the show. It’s just so much fun.

Deathsmarch has that old-school, positive hardcore feel, with the room yelling “Hey world, you’ll never break me…”. The punters bounce to Bricks and Mortar . The heavy riff of Hail Destroyer has the kids throwing themselves into each other… And the room explodes for the excellent Beastie Boys cover, Sabotage.

It is all so smile enducing…

A refresh at the bar, and we’re back at it for Cancer Bats second set as their Black-Sabbath-covering, super-villain, Bat Sabbath alter egos… And good lord, I challenge you to not groove out to their rendition of Supernaut.

Bat Sabbath’s covers are surprisingly faithful. War Pigs swings like it should. The solos are spot on. Maybe that jazzy Geezer/Ward feel is replaced by a bit more of a straight-up, punky energy… and a caped frontman definitely brings a hardcore yell to cope with Ozzy’s challenging vocal range.

I would take this sweaty energy, this intimacy, and this fun version of Sabbath over the bloated “real” Sabbath playing arenas around the world this year. No doubt.

After the group sing-alongs to Paranoid, Iron Man and War Pigs, I walked out into the Ottawa night.

Ottawa, I think you and I are gonna work out.

A Fair Warning to Canada

Posted in Admin, Travel with tags , on October 21, 2013 by Noise Road

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