Punk Bands Take Over Jimmy Jazz Once Again
Article originally published in The Ontarion
On Friday Feb. 12 2016 Jimmy Jazz hosted a rousing punk show within the bowels of the hallowed bar. Clumsy, The Penske File, and Brutal Youth played a free show sponsored by Steamwhistle Brewery and Stomp Records.
The show was scheduled to start at 9:00pm, but the first band did not start until around 10:00pm. The first band on the stage, the “stage” really just being a corner of the bar floor, was Clumsy. The Woodstock-based band played a straight, clean pop-punk set. The first song had a problem with the vocal levelling, but the sonic issues were corrected throughout their set. According to the lead vocalist, Derek Corkish, the band had not played Guelph “for, like, fuckin’ ten years”. The band, formed in 2011, played both of the songs from their most recent EP The End; Lavish and King Shit. Following those, they also played a cover of a Rancid song and some of their older material. The performance was tight and the four-piece was anything but “clumsy”, but the lack of people in the bar so early in the night meant that the applause was scattered and the crowd was mostly still seated.
Clumsy finished their set by generating some hype about the upcoming Penske File around 10:30pm. About forty-five minutes later, and with a more tangible crowd, The Penske File took the stage. The members of this Burlington three-piece played off of each other like experts. The two mobile members of the band played around with the space provided for them, taking turns jumping over to in-front of the entrance and back to the microphones. All three members of the band sing, and the harmony provided by bassist James Hall, and drummer, Alex Standen was tangible and exciting. Their third song, also the title track of their most recent album release, Burn Into the Earth, got the crowd on their feet and singing along. At times it looked like the bass player and guitarist were going to headbutt each other, but their synchronicity during performance is unparalleled and no one got hurt.
Mid-way through the set, the lead-vocalist, Travis Miles, asked the other two band members what song they were playing next. However, he said it into the microphone and the crowd responded with requests to hear their favourite songs by the band. Dealing with the problem quickly, Hall informed the crowd that the band would play a song that they had not practiced in some time and they launched into Lifelessness (The Great Enemy) off of their first full-length. As they entered the last song, Home, people in the crowd raised their glasses, cans or bottles to the chorus that requested just that.
Between the rousing set provided by The Penske File and Brutal Youth about fifteen more people showed up to the venue bringing the total number of attendees to abut fort-five. All three shows ended up being very intimate and friendly, but each set had astoundingly high amounts of energy all the same.
Brutal Youth burst into song after warming-up for about half the time the other two bands took. Their first song, a hard and fast, yet short punk anthem got people on their feet. Compared to the last two bands, the vocal clarity of Brutal Youth was less than ideal. It seemed like the issues that had dogged Clumsy returned. However, in spite of the technical failings, the band proceeded to make a spectacle of themselves in a good way. The lead singer, self-stylized Patty O’Lantern, capitalized on the space provided by a stage that was not separate from the bar floor and, using the entrance-way to Jimmy Jazz as part of his stage, carved a half-moon shape in front of the crowd. During the third song of their set, Patty began stalking around, screaming the lyrics into the microphone and taking time to stare down various audience members. The interaction that the singer had with the crowd was un-paralleled during the night.
The four-piece, originally from Newfoundland, but recently relocated to Kingston, provided a very tight set for the crowd. The vocalist used his voice as an instrument as much as the other band members used their guitars or drums. During the set, the front-man mentioned that the band was working on extending their setlist, but was encountering difficulty, because most of their songs were “only about a minute long”. The set appeared to be incredibly taxing-on the band. In a bigger venue there would have, without a doubt, been more than a few members of the audience moshing, however, due to the placement of the tables, anything more than a slight jump became hazardous. At the end of their time on stage, the front-man dramatically collapsed to the ground while still finishing he last line of their last song. He lay there for a moment looking thankful for the breeze that was blowing in from the front entrance.
Overall, all three bands provided a solid show. Each band, musically, offered something different, but all three are masters of what they do. Jimmy Jazz is a slid venue for performances like that. It is just a shame that the weather prevented more folks from heading downtown that night.