Obey Convention Halifax NS, May 23 to 25

Obey Convention Halifax NS, May 23 to 25
In Halifax, Darcy Spidle and Divorce Records are bringing exciting punk, avant-rock and experimental music to those who crave it. But not content to simply release fantastic seven-inch singles and limited edition cassettes, Spidle has gone a step further through organising the Obey Convention. The second edition of this music festival started on the Friday with a free early evening noise show. Torso (aka Sandy Saunders) gave piercing screams that made his whole body shake, and delivered them over a dark ambient drone with intermittent foghorn-like sounds. Visiting musician Aidan Baker gave two performances, one solo and the other with his drone metal project Nadja. Baker’s solo set was a swirling soundscape of guitar effects creating an atmospheric brew of doom verging on beauty. Nadja’s was similar in effect but emphasised power, which could be attributed to bass player Leah Buckareff. The overpowering usage of distortion made her instrument sound like the bass of God. Combined with Baker’s bag of guitar tricks, the duo created a mesmerising set of ambient bliss. Controlled chaos was the order of the late evening show. Halifax group Attack Mode gave their herky-jerky punk sound a good thrashing with a frantic performance that destroyed on all levels. Local noise rock princes Be Bad later gave their final performance ever. The crowd surfing and unexpected onstage puking added to the hell-raising fierceness of their unruly racket. British Columbia’s Shearing Pinx capped the night off with a sharp-edged set of stop-start rhythms coloured with guitars that went "skreeee” and "skronk.” It was a no wave party of tightly wound dysfunction. The best performances of the weekend came during Saturday night’s punk show. Starting with a heavy set from local punk veterans Die Brucke (biting the dust like Be Bad), the night continued with vibrant ’80s-style hardcore punk courtesy of the Hold. Singer Darcy Spidle was screaming his head off with so much passion and conviction you could see the veins bulging on his bald head. Toronto’s Career Suicide finished the evening with a relentlessly fast and hard performance, and the sudden increase in stage diving showed that the crowd wanted things that way. The weekend ended calmly with an afternoon show at a local thrift store, with local bands Scribbler, Jef Jef and Broken Deer all giving charming performances. The cramped quarters didn’t put any sort of damper on the smiling crowd, who’ll hopefully be smiling again this time next year.