I forgot that I was reviewing the show. Not prior to going, but because of the atmosphere. Most of the time at show, it’s my band sitting around an empty bar waiting to perform to the fellow bands and barmaid. So, the setting in which I was on Friday night at Bar Danse Entre-Nous in the early stages of the evening reminded me of that. The difference, however, was that every band that played that night managed to create and add to the strong familial sense that manifested throughout the bar, a response that isn’t always easy to achieve, especially for smaller-time touring bands.
As Pat McInTosh from Basement Dweller – which he describes as “post self-deprecation core” – stood alone on stage with his electric guitar playing punk rock songs prior to his set, I wondered where the rest of his band was for sound check. I should have figured out that he was the single basement dweller who would be performing his heavily raspy-voiced, self-loathing, emo song such as “I Hate Myself” along with the sorrowful “I Don’t Like Anything,” and “ Hungover On A Greyhound Bus.” Regardless of how much McIntosh appeared to, unfortunately, despise himself, it is an incredibly commendable act to expose your emotions to a group of strangers and even friends. Him pouring out his emotions, breaking a string while continuing to play on, and displaying/exclaiming a complete lack of given-fucks about his image was probably the most punk rock performance I’ve ever seen live. Stay strong and keep kickin’ ass, bud.
There were some pretty unique individuals coming through and filling up the floor as the evening progressed. Standing outside between sets, I was accompanied by some rather awkward characters. People making such statements as “I’m too ugly for that.” Apparently several of the audience members, unfortunately, didn’t hold themselves in very high regard.
Continuing the mayhem was Montreal’s Barnacle, who came in blisteringly loud and aggressive with a rather short set. Scurrying to pack my ears with rolled-up pieces of toilet paper as quickly as possible to preserve whatever ear health I have left, the frequencies were so high that I had to run for shelter into the pooper. The amp volumes were astronomically powerful which, in opposition with the vocal volumes, didn’t allow for much comprehension of their lyrical content; however, they describe themselves as “Spongebob music for emo people,” if that clarifies and puts things into perspective. After an approximate fifteen minute set, the crashing drums and dead-awakening amplifiers settled. Removing the asswipe earplugs from my ears, I was too late – tinnitus got me good.
They always had “just two songs left,” Their playful humour was as strong as their instrumental skills, and the dance moves definitely had some Dewey Finn-fluence embedded in them. From New York, the two-man-group Top Nachos consisting of Eli Frank on electric guitar and Kenny Hauptman on drums produced a spastic level of high energy, with the right amount of power to get the crowd up and dancing. Performing a punk rockified version of Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” as well as Vanessa Carlton’s wholesome “A Thousand Miles,” these guys defied musical boundaries. Sometime’s it’s not enough just to give a face-melting instrumental performance; however, although these guys certainly did do so, Frank’s charismatic and animated character combined with Hauptman’s wild facial expressions allowed for a very well-rounded performance that would blaze the trail for the night’s headlining act.
After nine seasons of Seinfeld episodes, the same boxes of cereal, and millions and millions of dollars, somewhere in the world, decades after the show ended, a group of friends would come together and form a ska punk band called The Costanzas. Around eight years later they would disband, playing their last show on Friday, June 7th.
By this time of the night, the crowd was amped. That familial presence was going stronger than ever and the dance floor was filling up and closing in. As Seinfeld episodes projected on the wall and frontman Conor Antenucci opened their set by slapping the Seinfeld theme on his bass guitar, I couldn’t help but already give my approval. What followed would only consolidate my positive opinion of these cats. With a full sound, which included the very ska-necessary saxophone, the engaging of the crowd, and an inflatable shark being thrown around the room, it was a lasting last performance. Once at a low, the microphone levels were rectified and boosted up, subjecting the PA speakers to a real beating that night. Gifts were given out to beloved friends of the band, t-shirts were taken off bodies and “Gang Control” by Leftover Crack was covered. It was a raunchy, wholesome evening from which I hope everyone took away something positive with them, especially The Costanzas.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Danielle Kenedy