I knew I was in for greatness this weekend. I did not know greatness would strike on a Thursday night in the form of an off-kilter Aussie with a potent voice and a dominant swagger. Freya Wilcox is not a diva, she’s a dynamo and, more importantly, she’s got a backing band to assist in the knocking off of your socks.
The Hi-Dive on Thursday night pre-Riot Fest was a happening place. A venerable who’s who of the local scene with some additional Canadians in Oh My Snare! to boot, they were all in for one hell of a show.
I arrived too late to catch much of The Windermeres, but I was able to pick up their latest and greatest release Continental Divide.
Fortunately, I was able to catch the band that puts the group in supergroup, Stat Dad. The four, sometimes five-piece outfit from Laramie, Wyo., blazed a worthy trail to the night’s headliners with their abrasive skate punk. Miguel Chen (Teenage Bottlerocket, That Guy!) helmed vocals with an affinity for self-provocation that would make both Sid Vicious and the Divinyls blush. JD (Redbush), Ferg (That Guy!) and the rest of the roving outfit laid out a stellar set full of spitting, sweat and water bottle genitalia.
All of which led to the most anticipated set of the night (dare I say weekend?) with Freya Wilcox & the Howl. From the moment she tore into “Bury Me” off the band’s 2015 release Bareknuckle Love, I felt a certain chill. Someone with a larger emotional range than mine later informed me that said reaction is called “swooning.” So yeah, I swooned. It wasn’t just how Freya portrayed herself on stage, it’s that she did it with such confidence. She owned the stage. She also owned her guitars, which led her to break two Es and an A on two separate guitars in one set. Yeah, I swooned there too. And when she went into “I Beg” off the Oh My Snare!/Freya Wilcox & The Howl split, the blues punk emotion was palpable. Dedicating the Fleetwood Mac cover of “Rhiannon” to Johnny Wilson was also a nice touch.
Where Freya Wilcox & the Howl provided raw emotion, Oh My Snare! brought the hyperactive energy that no one should have at midnight. Hailing from Quebec, the band further cemented my faith in the Great White North with an exuberance that is not commonly matched. Vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Jorel bounced around like strung out wrecking ball while bassist and vocalist Lily (who also subbed in on bass with FW&TH) played the role of Yang. Covering [my] favorites from their 2015 release Hoyeste Gang “Hearken Unto my Behest, Biatch for Thou Hast Boobies” and “If Krillin Came Back from the Dead Like 3 Times, I Think We Can Do It Once” the set went off without a hitch. The greatest touch, however, came off their split EP with a memorable performance of “Quantum Entanglement”, which features both Lily and Freya on lead vocals – and is the best song you’ll hear this year.
After the show, I really didn’t care who was playing over the weekend. I’d already had more than my share.
* all images by Jamy Cabre
The Windermeres, Oh My Snare! and Freya Wilcox & the Howl all released records on our own imprint, FtLP Records, this year which you can purchase limited color vinyl for HERE!