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Something You Whisper and Bitter Kids at Leaky B’s LaVa Lounge – Live Music Review

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Something You Whisper and Bitter Kids at Leaky B’s LaVa Lounge — Live Music Review

From the outside, 88 Meadowlands Dive is unassuming, on the inside, it’s just small. Shows happen through the back door, down a narrow set of stairs, on top of a stage that takes up a quarter of the room. When I fist stepped into the basement, I could not have imagined fitting more than a mini-van’s worth of people in there, but by 9pm there was anywhere between 30 and 45 people packed into the space with explosive riffs and rattling beats bouncing off the black walls around them. This is Leaky B’s LaVa Lounge, and it has got to be the most punk-rock venue I have ever risked going deaf in.

Baby House

Really unassuming from the outside.

Five bands graced the stage Saturday night, standing beneath a grid of white Christmas 

lights with a six-foot poster of Taylor Swift looming behind. Fans began pouring in at seven and the scramble to find a safe place to leave their coats began.

Below 6

The night started off with some of the most instrumentally impressive punk I have ever seen live. Below 6’s drummer alone was a joy to watch and he played with the kind of speed and precision you would expect to see at a jazz show. Not only were these kids incredibly talented musicians, but also they were young, really young. I cornered their guitarist Alex Sabourin after their set and found out that most of band is in their last year at high school. The drummer, at a whopping 22-years-of-age, is the oldest member. I also was not surprised to hear that the group met through their school’s music program in Rockland.

Below 6 plays with the skill and stage presence you would expect to see in a band that’s a decade older. I highly recommend keeping an eye on them.

Footsteps to Gaia

When the next band came on, I realized just how small the Leaky B’s stage really was. While Below 6 seemed to fit onstage with a little room to move around, the fully-grown members of Footsteps to Gaia were stuck elbow to elbow on the raised platform. That did not keep them from rocking any less though, and this band played the heaviest metal Leaky B’s heard all night. I was stuck beside a speaker and after the first song I had to crumple up a page from my notebook and stick it in my left ear to keep from going deaf and ruining my chances to properly review the other three bands. I know that’s how people get ear infections, but you gotta’ do what you gotta’ do.

While I was trying to save my eardrums from Footsteps’ pounding music, the audience was loving it. Someone even started a small mosh pit during their set before giving up a few seconds later to preserve what little air we had left in that basement.

Missioner

Ottawa rock group Missioner followed Footsteps to Gaia with the night’s most laid-back songs and a few awesome covers. Unfortunately, this was the point where serious technical errors started to plague the bands, and the lead singer’s microphone faded in and out most of the time they were on stage. Backup vocals were even worse, which was a shame since I got the sense that this band would have had some really great harmonizing otherwise.

Here’s a video of Missioner playing in a somewhat larger venue.

Although some of Missioner’s members seemed a bit frustrated with the technical issues, they won the audience back halfway through with an awesome cover of “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus, a song that is perfectly acceptable to enjoy three or four times a year. Their second home run came a few songs later with a great cover of Blink 182’s “The Rock Show.” I feel like some of the sound issues really held this group back and I’m definitely keeping an eye out for their next Ottawa show. I would love to see what they could do at full steam.

Bitter Kids

A half hour gap separated the end of Missioner’s set before the first headlining band, Bitter Kids, played their opening note. This was in part because they switched out the drum kits, but they also did a lot of technical adjustments and “check, check, 1,2,3,”s. By the time Bitter Kids started playing for real, the microphones hadn’t much improved, but their powerhouse sound and hyperactive energy shone through.

Singer Jd Meeboer stretched his voice to the limit, and at one point he dropped the mic and walked out into the audience, screaming out his lyrics in a circle of fans. By the end of the set his nose was actually bleeding from the exertion. The audience had been pretty subdued most of the night, but Bitter Kids had them clapping and even singing along during a few especially intense moments. Even though the whole band had tireless stage presence, 16-year-old drummer Chase Donoghue could start a second career starring in energy drink ads.

Yes, Bitter Kids did suffer from the same microphone issues Missioner faced, but they still played some of the best music I have ever heard live, and by the time Something You Whisper came on, the three women standing beside me were all wearing Bitter Kids toques.

Something You Whisper

The gap between when Bitter Kids’ end and Something You Whisper’s start was the longest all night. Band members worked with house staff to fix up the microphones and even set up a few strobe lights. When 10:30pm rolled around I was starting to worry about the 86 bus ending for the night and me dying alone and frozen in Nepean, but the wait ended up being worth it. When Something You Whisper did take the stage, all the voices and instruments came through loud and clear.

These guys owned the stage and their rainbow strobe lights added a frantic edge to their set. Also representing the post-hardcore genre, Something You Whisper brings a lot to the table. The band had samples playing behind some of their songs that had a brilliant contrast with their music, but what made them really stand out was lead singer Wes Will’s vocals. He sang quite a bit higher than most hardcore frontmen and although I don’t think I could listen to Will sing all day, he really gave them a fresh sound, and I am sure some listeners would absolutely love it.

Any one of the five band’s sets were worth the price of admission Saturday night, although I would suggest seeing them at a bigger venue with a bit more money going into its sound system. For anyone hoping to see the headliners play, Bitter Kids and Something You Whisper still have a few shows before their tour ends in Cambridge March 8.

Check out the tour dates below to find out where you can catch them next, and to find out more about Bitter Kids’ origins, sound, and next steps, check out The Scene’s interview with the band.

Tour Dates

Eric Murphy

THE SCENE


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