Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rockin' out in Ottawa

I have been meaning to sing praises to the Live lounge recordings for a while.

In this day and age, venues for original live music have been on a slow decline in the nation's capital. More places feature DJays, fewer places can offer new, fresh, independent acts strutting their stuff.

Enter Live lounge, a unique combination of a recording studio, music club and an extension of the Live 88.5 station. As you may have guessed, it has indie rock written all over it...and, yes, it is not entirely uncommercial. Au contraire, the bands that play at the 128 York Street (it's right by club Surface) club on Thursdays are hoping to get signed, hoping to get more radio exposure, in short make money.

Based on what I have read and seen, the concept is new, at least within Canada. No other rock station runs its own live music venue and works with up-and coming acts who use that venue to attract live audiences they otherwise might not get.

The recording sessions/concerts are truly eclectic. Various musical tastes will be satisfied, unless you really yearn to hear hip-hop or country...pretty much everthing else goes. The formula is, you pay $5 and get to see three bands. First time that my girlfriend and I ventured into Live lounge, the three bands on that particular bill were an art-rock duo (with a cello and electric guitar), a three-chord punk band, and a metal act whose members were about 22 years old on average and yet playing 80s influenced metal (inlcuding an Iron Maiden cover). I banged my head and did a little slam dancing, for old/new times' sake. An entertaining evening.

I think the iPod generation is used to having any kind of music piped into our all-consuming ears, sometimes just to fill void and block the daily chatter on a bus ride or some other public place. Then there's the age factor. After university, fewer of us get to see the journeyman 'neighbourhood band' on a regular basis, the guys (and girls) with guitars as they struggle to become a bona fide rock band. Seeing the shows at Live lounge made me realize again that making music is a lot like making sausages at the best of times. And that's not even accounting for all the screw-ups, personality conflicts and lack of song-writing skills.

What I'm saying is - instead of turning on Much Music or buying a CD from someone you already know, go see these Live lounge shows. Get surprised. Go see a couple of intense, entertaining, hard-working and technically proficient local acts, the ones that have withered a few inevitable personal storms and are on the verge of making it. Support your local musicians without getting on any bandwagon-type causes. You and your date/drinking buddy/out-of town friends will have a good time.



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