Music lovers in St. John’s were as ubiquitous as possible Friday night, as MusicNL Week showcases packed bars in the capital city. Heavily stacked rosters at The Ship, The Fat Cat, Club One, and The Rockhouse touted 24 acts, playing short sets to accommodate the lengthy lineup.
Despite being on my best quantum behaviour, I did not succeed at being in multiple places at the same time. Instead, I ended up running from bar to bar every 10-15 minutes to catch as much as I humanly could. To jam as much as possible into this review, I decided to present my frenzied night with time-stamped locations — bringing you, reader, along for this wild ride.
9:58 p.m., The Fat Cat:
The bar is already full and instrumental trio Hip Waders are tearing it up onstage. I was so entranced by keyboardist Wade Tarling’s amazing skills that I ended up losing track of time, something The Fat Cat’s performers would continue make me do throughout the night.
10:29 p.m., The Rockhouse:
Streel are onstage, and I’m damn impressed. Fronted by Marquita Walsh and featuring half of local band Weight of the World, the four piece gave off an 80s pop/rock vibe in the tracks I heard, but without the 80s cheesiness. I’d love to see this band play a house show.
10:36 p.m., Club One:
Rocking on the biggest stage of the night, The Analog Age fed their brand of party/indie rock to hungry ears. The four piece played tracks from their 2017 EP, “Old School Kicks” and appeared to have a ton of fun doing so.
10:59, The Fat Cat:
Brianna Gosse’s set was underway when I returned, and the songstress lured me to the front with her sweet, soothing voice, complemented by backup vocals and percussion from Steve Maloney. This was an especially sweet set for Gosse, who had debuted her first album on that same stage three years earlier.
11:15 p.m., The Rockhouse:
I could hear Fairgale from outside the bar, as I mounted The Rockhouse stairs. The radio-friendly rock band turns three in December, and it’s obvious that its members have set out to make it big in the local and Canadian music scene.
11:47 p.m., The Fat Cat:
Having never heard of Chris Osmond’s Blue Mood, I was intrigued. As it turned out, this would be the stand-out set for me on Friday night – no contest. I’m pretty sure they pulled a Robert Johnson and sold their soul to the devil, at the Crossroads Motel, maybe. The trio of west coasters proved that yes, white boys can play the blues, and play it well. I’ve got to see them again, and soon.
12:10 a.m., The Fat Cat:
Beauwater was on stage when I returned, and though the trio played its blend of blues and rock quite well, I was still too floored by the previous act to listen to any more blues that night, as I had reached my quota. On to the next bar.
12:30 a.m., Club One:
I got a real Rage Against The Machine vibe from Cabbages and Kings last night. I watched, amused, as the appreciative crowd bopped and head-banged along to their hard rock sound. This band always looks like they are having so much fun playing their tunes.
12:45 a.m., The Fat Cat:
I had to take in a couple of tunes from jazz/funk giants Ouroboros. The five-piece horn and percussion band played tracks from their new album, “Kitchuses” released just last month. The dance floor was packed with happy, smiling, dancing people, like all Ouroboros shows.
1 a.m., The Rockhouse:
I’ll put it simply: Hot x Proxy are rockstars. They put on a real rock star vibe, from their musical compositions, their stage presence, right down to their facial expressions. The talented musicians played fun and funky riffs, and the crowd was loving it.
1:15 a.m., Club One:
If you like Iron Maiden, you have to check out Category VI, a four-piece fronted by Amanda Gosse, the female Bruce Dickinson. Their epic power metal did not fall on deaf ears, as the band showed off their insane talent by playing tunes from their latest release, “War Is Hell.” It was awesome to see so many women on stage on Friday night, and in the male-dominated metal music scene, Category VI proves that women can rock as just as hard or harder than their male counterparts.
1:40 a.m., The Ship:
My plan was to stop into The Ship on the way home to catch a couple tunes from The Kubasonics, a six-piece Ukrainian-Canadian speed folk band. I missed out on their high-energy set, as the show seemed to be running ahead of schedule. Luckily for me, I have their most recent album, “Kubfunland,” so I can enjoy The Kubasonics any time.
It was a long night of running around on a tight schedule, but ultimately the dizzying tizzy was worth it. I jammed 12 bands into one evening, and somehow packed them all into this review. Bring on the rest of the MusicNL Week weekend — I’m ready.