Festival Review: Out of Earshot 2018
By: James Titford
Out of Earshot is the type of festival we need more of in Newfoundland. An exciting celebration of music highlighting the best of the local scene while also bringing in fresh talent from abroad. All this, while being in comfortable venues that emphasize inclusivity, enjoyment, and the overall safety for both the acts and audience alike. While I was unable to make every show, the three shows I was able to see were more then enough to sell me on the festival. Before I get to the music review I want to congratulate and commend the organizers and staff of this event (many of which performed during the festival) for putting off a festival that was just as enjoyable to be at as the bands were to hear. Without further adieu, I give you my overview of 3 shows from Out of Earshot 2018.
Show 1: Lo Siento, Property, Rabies, LAPS
The first Show I was able to catch was an exhilarating mix of differing styles coming together to set the bar high for the rest of the festival. First up was local group Lo Siento. Lo Siento’s music is playful and fun Art Pop with a Spanish flair. After hearing their set once you’ll have their catchy chorus’ stuck in your head for days. Mostly playing tracks off their Bingo Bango album they did play a new song which was an interesting sound for the band. Next up was another local group I’ve covered previously, Property. Their angular-pop carried on the night with relaxing songs to the beat of their signature drum-machine, all the while having a restrained energy that you couldn’t take your eyes and ears off. Like Lo Siento, they also played a new song which was a nice surprise and got me excited for the possibility of new material from both these groups. After Property was Halifax’s Rabies, featuring members of the group Surveillance. Not being familiar with the group I was quickly won over by their sound that was a mid point between power pop and indie pop/rock with synth that brings in elements of gothic rock and post punk. Throughout their set the audience was bombarded with a blast of noisy rock that had them captivated and moving. With their eclectic sound and all out live show, Rabies are a band that can’t be put down. The last, but certainly not least, band of the night was Montreal’s LAPS. For a band that played a short set, they used the short amount of time to leave a massive impact on those in attendance. LAPS’ sound is a hard one to pin down. Described on their Facebook and Bandcamp as Post-Prog, this is as close as you’ll get to putting them in a genre. Imagine if you took the sound of jangle pop like R.E.M., the songwriting of Progressive Rock like King Crimson, and the attitude of Post-Hardcore like Fugazi. The crowd was left in awe as the group blasted through their set never missing an off-kilter beat. With a solid start to the fest I could only wait in anticipation for the next show.
Show 2: Pillow Count, Yee Grlz, Blood Beach, Frail Hands, Doxx.
With expectations set high it was time for the second night. This show seemed to have a more focused sound, being a full-on punk show. First up was local Pop-Punk crew Pillowcount. With their fuzzy sound and enthusiasm, they gave the show a rolling start getting everyone pumped for the rest of the night. Next was another local group, Yee Grlz. Seeing a Yee Grlz set is always a blast. With their distinct sound of catchy and fun hardcore, with a healthy amount of stage banter, the crowd was entertained and engaged the whole show. Following the two local groups was the first out-of-province act, Blood Beach, from Halifax. Blood Beach played a great set straddling the line between Hardcore and Pop-Punk, similar to a group like The Descendants. While their set was very short, covering their 4-song demo, it was still a lot of fun and I hope to see them again with some more songs in hand. Another group from Halifax followed, Frail Hands. Do you like Screamo? Do you like Skramz? Then you need to hear this band. This set alone made The Republic the place to be that Friday night. An all-out barrage of non-stop emotive hardcore that left many a jaw dropped. The way the band moved on the stage through the sonic chaos they were creating is something that needs to be seen to be believed. To end the night, coming all the way from Ontario was Hardcore powerhouse, Doxx. Bringing the night to a close Doxx played a set that made sure no one was leaving the show tired. High octane Hardcore at its best and described perfectly in the Facebook event page as “What if the Cro-Mags covered X-Ray Spex?”. This was one hell of a show with all bands bringing their best.
Show 3: Conditioner, Hard Ticket, Doffing, Surveillance.
After the wild time of the previous night, The Republic was still standing, and it had come to the final show of the fest. Like Friday’s show, this one was again focused around punk groups which was great considering how good the previous night was. Starting things off were Conditioner, a local group I always look forward to seeing. Conditioner had a great set, setting the tone with their Pop/Garage Punk sound. Planned or not it was also the only set I saw with a dancing puppet/puppeteer, so it gets bonus points for that. Next was another local group, Hard Ticket. Their sound is a mix of punk and alternative rock with a heavy emphasis on the groove. Even though the puppet had left the front of the stage plenty more came to take its place. For their 200th show Hard Ticket showed why you should get a ticket to see them again. The third act was Montreal’s Doffing. The Post-Hardcore band with elements of Math Rock, Shoegaze and Screamo shifted the energy of the show with their intense mid-paced set that had everyone transfixed on them. Despite a slight technical problem half way through their set (which was easily fixed), Doffing were a highlight of the weekend. Another group that played a highlight set of the festival was the final group, Surveillance. Featuring familiar faces, as this trio are all in Rabies, they brought their talents again to bring the show and festival to an end. Their sound is hard to describe, as it lies somewhere between Punk, Post-Punk, and Hardcore with their sound changing from song to song. With an unpredictable sound that kept everyone anticipating what they were going to do next, Surveillance brought a fitting end to a festival full of talent, surprises and overall the independent music event of the summer.