F!ghtF!ghtF!ght / Last Communion / Dear Judah / Sadie Hell End Hits, Ottawa ON March 10

F!ghtF!ghtF!ght / Last Communion / Dear Judah / Sadie Hell End Hits, Ottawa ON March 10
Celebrating its first anniversary as a record store, End Hits has become something of an Ottawa institution in its brief time. Gathering four local bands to its cramped, yet endearing, basement to celebrate, along with delicious cake, the afternoon was a laidback affair that affirmed that interesting things are a brewing in the nation’s capital. Sadie Hell got things off to an appropriately dramatic start, as vocalist Ben Welland’s beautiful strumming and guttural howl felt perfect in the enclosed, and somewhat creepy, setting. So formidable was that voice that the missing cellist was hardly noticed. Even more stripped down was the rootsy-voiced Dear Judah, whose rough vocal delivery communicated authority and whose excellent harmonica work at the end just cemented a listener’s curiosity. Yet, what are basement shows good for when you can’t find one opportunity to deafen everyone? Though they make their trade in an interesting mix of rock and punk, Last Communion had a certain intensity that manifested itself in their manic vocalist. Even while battling mic problems, he found time to flail his way around the tiny room and blow out everyone’s ear canal. Ending the fun was F!ghtF!ghtF!ght, a four-piece reminiscent of Rainer Maria — if they decided to turn towards post-punk. When you start a set with long technical problems and the confession that the show is more of a practice, one’s hopes aren’t set too high, but they found their way by the end. Using layered guitars and just the right amount of analog sounds, they whipped up a frenzied energy and, when they’re a little tighter, could be quite fun. There might be better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than having one’s ears blasted while surrounded by low ceilings, wood panelling and requisite Senators posters, but I couldn’t think of any.