On Saturday November 17, Pink Lemonade Records debuted three of their recently signed bands. The Story Of…, Botfly and Hellbent took the Jimmy Jazz down a dismal path of tenacious expression and left several people I know bruised and without proper hearing. It was a show that made me dizzy and broke my glasses, so it was a good one.
Hellbent (Toronto, ON) started off the show a bit earlier than planned as they had to scoot out early, but I still made it on time, which I think is worth mentioning. Making great use of a small setting, the band promptly established their territory by throwing down some serious fits of vitality on it. Despite their high energy and catchy lyricism, the crowd seemed shy – though they had indeed gathered to witness their musical testimony firsthand. Between songs, vocalist Phill was nervously pacing as if he was about to burst from the seams, taking this time to give ample shoutouts to the label, bands and bar staff. Attendees were thanked for their tolerance, which I found funny. After that, back to the heavy stuff. Original songs like “Benchman” and “Washed Out” had the crowd concentrated on the coordination between instruments and vocal verses, and they also played a cover of Descendent’s “Coffee Mug.” Shitpunk outfit Hellbent played an enjoyable, heavy and catchy set.
By the time this review is posted, they’ll have played shows in Kitchener and Ajax, but you can check them out with Botfly in Windsor, Hamilton, Ottawa and Sherbrooke throughout the rest of this week.
Botfly (Halifax, NS) is a dynamic hardcore noise punk three-piece that I enjoy thoroughly. They’ve been a favourite of mine since they played DSTRCT earlier this year, and their 2017 self-titled album is a masterpiece that I’ve heavily acquainted myself with since. In addition to that success, they’ve released a new compilation of songs they’ve written over the last 5 years of musical camaraderie. “Dark Days” is available now on all streaming platforms, and physical copies can be purchased through the Pink Lemonade Big Cartel (https://pinklemonaderecords.bigcartel.com). Vocalist/guitarist Keegan assured me that this set would be a healthy mix of both records, and that it was.
Opening with the roaring “Code Name” of their self-titled, the crowd seemed to be more comfortable with their surroundings, and started moving more than just their heads. We can probably give some credit to the liquor license, too, which also probably had something to do with the lack of notes I took during their set. I was additionally intoxicated by the volume – I seriously felt dizzy at times – and I still can’t hear fully. I can assure you that this band commands attention by dragging you through fits of rage that are ruptured by lulls of dissociative bridges and glued together with heavy breakdowns. Tasty as hell. They played my favourite tunes of theirs, “Yellow Bike Road” (ST) “Rat Scum” (DD) and “Melancholy in Real Time” (ST,) which I was stoked on. Their closing song, “Untitled 1,” (DD) was introduced with gloomy convulsions, dragged out at the end with the tossing of instruments, signalling the final outburst, then tapered out with heavy feedback and tricky drumming. The crowd paused in exhaustion to appreciate the set. If you’re looking to catch them live, they’re playing a few places in Ontario for the rest of the week. Do it.
The Story Of… (Guelph, ON) consists entirely of my dear friends, two of whom I am employed by, interestingly… The newest addition to Pink Lemonade Records, this band frequents Guelph venues and brings with them a loyal following who love to smack each other around at shows. Things got to their typical level of weird, and I feel thankful to have been there for it. The music was excellent; the fast paced, high energy group yanked the audience in several directions, through tricky riffs and heavy percussion. While I find myself easily lost in their changing rhythms, it’s a comfortable confusion that keeps me on my toes, or stepping on someone else’s.
Vocalist Nik was equipped with a wireless mic, which foreshadowed an evening of unruliness and using tables like lily pads. I think he was tossed in my direction a few times (I saved his ass and I’m still waiting for my raise.) Each member of this band is individually reckless while playing – I’ve written about White Girl Wasted, with whom The Story Of… shares a member, and that show ended with bags of frozen vegetables on sore areas of the body, so what did you expect?
All of their song titles are a continuation of the band name: The Story Of… “How I broke my ribs,” for example. I like to call this review, “The Story Of… how I have not yet recovered from Saturday.” Having played together for the first time only one year ago, they have yet to release recordings of these songs, but they’re working together to do so in the new year. To hold the hunger off until then, catch them at this year’s Kronik Kristmas at DSTRCT in Guelph on December 15 before they rest for a month or two.
A word from Pink Lemonade Records:
Pink Lemonade Records is best described as a “bedroom label” from Cambridge Ontario.
[We are a] Non-genre specific label. We love all styles of music and do not limit our partnerships to any one specific genre. Our goal is to work for artists whose drive and passion match their output.
Starting with our first release in 2017, Pink Lemonade have assisted in or have independently dropped 9 original releases, (8 just in 2018) with even more coming soon.
Pink Lemonade Records will continue to bring new and exciting releases in the following year and are always looking for new partnerships, innovative sounds and fresh, honest people to join the family.
Current roster includes:
The Story Of…
Partnered in releases with:
The Great Sabatini
“Pink Lemonade Records would also like to thank GAIN Music for allowing us to partner with them for Saturday’s Showcase. Hellbent, Botfly and The Story Of… are 3 really special, unique and quality groups of people that we are proud to be partnered with. Jimmy Jazz was a perfect place for them to display the live translations of their art. We believe this is just the beginning for the Pink Lemonade Records and GAIN Music partnership… more to come. Thanks to everyone who came out and showed support for the bands by rocking the fuck out and for grabbing some merch.”
-Derek, Pink Lemonade Records
–Dana CK is a writer with Music Lives and a booking intern for GAIN Music. She’s also the cover girl you see freezing through the winter months at the door of DSTRCT. Find her on Facebook (Dana CK) or Instagram (@ddanasdfghjkl) to ask about the musical happenings of Guelph.
Photos by Agnieszka of Smyrska Photography